5, 2013
Crisis: NSA & GCHQ, Schneier, German, Lanchester, TPP
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.

1. NSA and GCHQ target Tor network that protects
     anonymity of web users

2. Why the NSA's attacks on the internet must be made

3. German intelligence service is as bad as the NSA
4. The Snowden files: why the British public should be
     worried about GCHQ

5. A Corporate Trojan Horse

About ME/CFS


Today there are five more articles on the crisis, of which especially the last two are quite important. (They won't make you happier, though. But item 4 is a good piece that explains matters well, and item 5 shows there is much to fear economically and otherwise, with the govenments we have.)

1. NSA and GCHQ target Tor network that protects anonymity of web users  

The first article today is by James Ball, Bruce Schneier and Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian:

This also is a somewhat technical article. Here are its opening paragraphs:

The National Security Agency has made repeated attempts to develop attacks against people using Tor, a popular tool designed to protect online anonymity, despite the fact the software is primarily funded and promoted by the US government itself.

Top-secret NSA documents, disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, reveal that the agency's current successes against Tor rely on identifying users and then attacking vulnerable software on their computers. One technique developed by the agency targeted the Firefox web browser used with Tor, giving the agency full control over targets' computers, including access to files, all keystrokes and all online activity.

There is a lot more there, but it is a bit technical. In any case, here is one lesson:

Update your Firefox browser, so that it at least is version 17 (and I am using the latest, which is 24).

The reason to state this so clearly is that I get mostly visited by people who use old - sometimes very old - browsers. And besides, I also think you should not use browsers by Microsoft or Google.

2. Why the NSA's attacks on the internet must be made public

Next, an article by Bruce Schneier, also in the Guardian:
Here is its beginning:

Today, the Guardian is reporting on how the NSA targets Tor users, along with details of how it uses centrally placed servers on the internet to attack individual computers. This builds on a Brazilian news story from last week that, in part, shows that the NSA is impersonating Google servers to users; a German story on how the NSA is hacking into smartphones; and a Guardian story from two weeks ago on how the NSA is deliberately weakening common security algorithms, protocols, and products.

The common thread among these stories is that the NSA is subverting the internet and turning it into a massive surveillance tool. The NSA's actions are making us all less safe, because its eavesdropping mission is degrading its ability to protect the US.

Quite so - and one of the ways this last fact, that "The NSA's actions are making us all less safe", is possible is that so much of the software people use is closed source: What is much needed is open source, and that not because it will solve all problems, because it won't, but because open source makes it much easier to check code.

Here is a final bit by Schneier:

Without public disclosure, you'd be much less secure against cybercriminals, hacktivists, and state-sponsored cyberattackers.

The NSA's actions turn that process on its head, which is why the security community is so incensed. The NSA not only develops and purchases vulnerabilities, but deliberately creates them through secret vendor agreements. These actions go against everything we know about improving security on the internet.

Yes, quite so.

3. German intelligence service is as bad as the NSA

Next, an originally German article by Kai Biedermann, that got translated and in the Guardian:

Actually, I doubt this: Same funding? Same government? Same population? Same context? But let's see. It starts as follows:

In recent weeks there has been much criticism of the US National Security Agency. It spies on people indiscriminately – even the citizens of its European allies – goes the furious and clearly justified accusation. Politicians in Germany and the EU have repeatedly criticised the US. Yet it seems they themselves are sitting in a rather large glass house.

The German intelligence service – the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) – to name an example close to home, does exactly the same thing as the NSA abroad and it does so within a similar legal framework. "The differences between the BND and the NSA are much smaller than is generally accepted by the public," write Stefan Heumann and Ben Scott in their study on the legal foundations of internet surveillance programmes in the US, the UK and Germany.

First, "In recent weeks" is a bit odd, since I am in the fourth or fifth month of reporting on the NSA, and I have been mainly tracking what others wrote.

Second, while I am not a fan of the BND, I think a phrase like "The differences between the BND and the NSA are much smaller than is generally accepted by the public" is utterly meaningless, because "the public" is extremely vague - and what we are offered is in fact an opinion on the opinion of two journalists on what "the public" is supposed to think.

So third, this does not seem to be a very useful article, which also means that its writer missed several chances. The main reasons it is reported here is that I do not only reproduce stuff I think is good, and because of the following bit, that also foreshadows the next article:

Of the three countries they looked at, the authors said checks and balances in Britain are the weakest. Neither parliament nor the courts are involved in regulating or authorising surveillance programmes. Oversight is limited exclusively to within the service itself.

OK - that is relevant information, if only because this means that the GCHQ is completely beyond democratic or legal control of any kind.

This leads to the following item, that is a lot more interesting.

4. The Snowden files: why the British public should be worried about GCHQ

This is a quite interesting and rather long article by an English journalist and writer, John Lanchester, who was rather well disposed to British spying and the needs for keeping secrets, indeed until he was invited to look into what the NSA and GCHQ have made it these days:
Here is, to start with, Lanchester's report on "a new thing in human history":

What this adds up to is a new thing in human history: with a couple of clicks of a mouse, an agent of the state can target your home phone, or your mobile, or your email, or your passport number, or any of your credit card numbers, or your address, or any of your log-ins to a web service.

Using that "selector", the state can get access to all the content of your communications, via any of those channels; can gather information about anyone you communicate with, can get a full picture of all your internet use, can track your location online and offline. It can, in essence, know everything about you, including – thanks to the ability to look at your internet searches – what's on your mind.

Quite so - and the only thing missing is that it is not an abstraction like "the state" that knows everything about you, including very much you forgot, but that there are a couple of thousand, tenthousand or hundredthousand supermen, who have some sort of classified contract with some entity like Booz Allen - and are  "therefore" allowed to find out absolutely everything about you, while you are not allowed to know anything about them, and indeed should not know they exist.

Next, here is the problem that John Lanchester sees:

And yet nobody, at least in Britain, seems to care. In the UK there has been an extraordinary disconnect between the scale and seriousness of what Snowden has revealed, and the scale and seriousness of the response.
And I quite agree, although I don't think much of his psychological explanation for it. In fact, I think that is mostly nonsense, and I won't repeat it: What I think is the case is mostly that there are far too few real journalists in the UK, and far too many false "journalists" like Kirsty Wark, who falsify, lie, and abuse, for whoever dictates them. (See yesterday's first item.)

Next, here is another question Lanchester asks, after describing the several hundredthousands of U.S. (former) colleagues of Edward Snowden, who all have supermen status:
But if they didn't know that Snowden had copied it, how could they possibly be sure that someone else hasn't also taken a copy and slipped it to the Chinese or Russians or Iranians or al-Qaida?
And since theuy did not know that Snowden had copied it, they certainly do not know how many times their information has been sold to either of the above, all in total secrecy.

Next, here is a bit of a repeat, that is justified:

This is the central point about what our spies and security services can now do. They can, for the first time, monitor everything about us, and they can do so with a few clicks of a mouse and – to placate the lawyers – a drop-down menu of justifications.
What this means is that we're moving towards a new kind of society. Britain is already the most spied on, monitored and surveilled democratic society there has ever been. This doesn't seem to have been discussed or debated, and I don't remember ever being asked to vote for it.
Quite so: Instead, what has happened is that a few handfulls of men have decided to do it, and to hell with all legal and democratic surveillance of these surveillors, that one has To TrustTM, as one has tp trust ObamaTM.

Besides, there is another thing here that Lanchester puts at follows - and Omand is one of the very few who did decide the following, and who decided it for millions and millions of unsuspecting persons:

That's a total non-sequitur: Omand seems to think that just because we hand data over to Google and Facebook the government automatically has the right to access it. It's as if, thanks to a global shortage of sticky gum, envelopes can no longer be sealed, so as a result the government awards itself a new right to mass-intercept and read everybody's letters.

Quite so, again: That is what it all comes down to - or indeed, since I have read the awful lies, fabrications and evasions by Hayden and Alexander: They claim, in effect, that "because" your envelopes and gum are breakable, they are entitled to break them, and if it is up to them, you should be glad and should not know, and the less you know, the better it is.

As Lanchester says:

It was at this point that I became convinced that Snowden's revelations are not just interesting or important but vital, because the state is about to get powers that no state has ever had, and we need to have a public debate about those powers and what their limits are to be.

Yes indeed, and this is also why I write so much about it, although I am also one who doesn't expect much from "a public debate" about a technical subject. (Half of "the public" has an IQ under 100.)

Next, Lanchester has three or four arguments. Here is the first:

The prospect this presents is something like the "panopticon" which Enlightenment philosophers advocated as a design for the ideal prison in the 18th century (..)
Actually, it weren't "Enlightenment philosophers" who advanced this, but the English Jeremy Bentham, and indeed the idea was that, in such a prison, the staff could see every prisoner, all the time. (But these were prisoners, and they were only seen - and the plan was never used. Till Hayden and Alexander, that is, with help and protection by Bush and Obama.)

But I agree with the point. The second argument is this:

Since 9/11, 53 people have been killed by terrorists in the UK. Every one of those deaths is tragic. So is every one of the 26,805 deaths to have occurred on Britain's roads between 2002 and 2012 inclusive, an average of 6.67 deaths a day. Let's call that the SDRD, standard daily road deaths. The terrorist toll for 12 years comes to 0.0121 SDRD. This means that 12 years of terrorism has killed as many people in the UK as eight days on our roads.
Quite so, as already pointed out by me in 2005. Even so, that is the constant "argument": "It is because of terrorism". No, it is definitely not, and it never was, except as pretext: It is because those who do it want it, think they get away with it, and want a new type of society in which a few rule, and the many starve or are effectively slaves, who have nothing to fear because they only think the right thoughts and only feel the right feelings.

And here is the third argument:

"The innocent have nothing to fear," says William Hague. But who gets to define who is innocent? Who gets to say what is contradictory to the "economic wellbeing" of the UK? If the innocent have nothing to fear, why is the state reading so many of our emails, and sucking up so much metadata from our phones and computers, under the umbrella of "sigint development"?
Quite so - and since this is all such degenerate rot:

How innocent is William Hague? How many blond boys between 3 and 6 did he take anally? Or - my source is Wikipedia - what about his real relations with the
25-year-old Christopher Myers? In any case: It are only the very few who already are qualified state terrorists who decide who is "innocent", and what he or she is or is not "innocent" of - and for state terorists everybody who does not belong to the state, or to a small circle in it, is or may be "a terrorist", and "therefore" anything may be done to his personal data.

Here is what I take as his fourth argument, that again starts with a repetition, but indeed one that is true and important:

We are right on the verge of being an entirely new kind of human society, one involving an unprecedented penetration by the state into areas which have always been regarded as private. Do we agree to that? If we don't, this is the last chance to stop it happening. Our rulers will say what all rulers everywhere have always said: that their intentions are good, and we can trust them. They want that to be a sufficient guarantee.
And quite so, and indeed also what Obama is doing: You must trust him, while his secret spooks find out everything about you.

Finally, Lanchester has two proposals. The first is to put some "
public figures who are publicly known for their advocacy of human rights and government openness" amongst the commissioners who supervise the GCHQ. I do not think that goes far enough:

My proposal would be to terminate the whole business of internet spying; to reconsider what is needed; to have "a public debate" about it; to institute real and adequate and fair laws for the internet; and only then restart the spying, but on a much limited basis - for, after all, the present situation arose out of the evident corruption of those in power or overseeing GCHQ, and without any democratic appeal or justification, and also without decent laws for the internet.

The second proposal is much better:
My second proposal is for a digital bill of rights. The most important proviso on the bill would be that digital surveillance must meet the same degree of explicit targeting as that used in interception of mail and landlines. No more "one end overseas" and "sigint development" loopholes to allow the mass interception of communications. There can be no default assumption that the state is allowed access to our digital life.
Yes indeed - with this proviso that the rules for "mail and landlines" do hold, right now, and every statement that they do not, is a lie or a piece of clever falsehood.

Anyway - this was a long review, but the piece is quite good, and my review is still shorter than the original.

5. A Corporate Trojan Horse

Lastly, I change subject and turn to the economy. The article is an interview on Democracy Now! with Lorri Wallach, who is the director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. It is a quite scary article, that once again shows one cannot trust Obama:
I also found it on Truth Dig, which includes the following introduction:
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, told “Democracy Now!” on Friday: “This is not mainly about trade. It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establishing new powers for corporations.”
The interview is quite interesting and quite scaring. Here is one part from it:

And then there’s a whole set of very worrisome issues relating to Internet freedom. Through sort of the backdoor of the copyright chapter of TPP is a whole chunk of SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act, that activism around the country successfully derailed a year ago. Think about all the things that would be really hard to get into effect as a corporation in public, a lot of them rejected here and in the other 11 countries, and that is what’s bundled in to the TPP. And every country would be required to change its laws domestically to meet these rules. The binding provision is, each country shall ensure the conformity of domestic laws, regulations and procedures.

Now, the only reason I know that level of detail is because a few texts have leaked, and I have been following the negotiations and grilling negotiators from other countries to try and find between the lines what the hell is going on; otherwise, totally secret.

There is much more under the last dotted link, and all I like to remark here is that again all of this is "totally secret": As ordinary citizen you have no right to know, and you also have no right to talk about it, in case you know - you just should trust Obama and Kerry. Also, this is their policy: Secret "laws", that secretly are about anything, and secretly force other states to comply. To me, it is corporate fascism, and it is morally quite degenerate and sick.



[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to
facilitate search machine) which is a disease that I have since 1.1. 1979:

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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