"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
spies, not the leaks, that threaten our security
2. Top web firms urge more transparency over
requests for user
3. NSA Disinformation: There's No Evidence That Massive
Thwarts Terror Attacks
4. Are You Spying On Me? Amid
Merkel Calls Obama
5. Merkel's Phone: Spying
Suspicions Put Obama in a Tight
There are today again
five crisis pieces. The first may be the most
interesting, but there are also two on German Chancellor Merkel's
having been spied upon by the NSA - or not, but it would seem this has
happened in the past, precisely because Obama and two of his
spokesmen declined to deny this, and they have listened to the
conversations of the Brazilian and Mexican presidents.
1. It's the spies, not the leaks, that threaten our
The first item today is from by Seumas Milne, in the Guardian:
This is, as the title also
says, in fact about the lies, deceptions and secrecies of the NSA and
GCHQ, and it is quite radical, though I also quite agree. I skip the
beginning, that summarizes stuff my regular readers will know, and
In reality, national
security is a catchphrase so elastic as to be meaningless. As MI5 helpfully explains, government policy is "not to define
the term, in order to retain the flexibility ... to adapt to changing
circumstances" – in other words, political expediency.
If it simply meant
protecting citizens from bombs on buses and trains, of course, most
people would sign up for that. But as the Snowden leaks have moved from
capability to content, it's been driven home that much of what NSA and
GCHQ (virtually one organisation) are up to has nothing to do with
terrorism or security at all, but, as might be expected, the exercise
of naked state power to gain political and economic advantage.
Yes, quite so. As I
have been saying, indeed already in
2005, in Dutch, "terrorism" is a deception,
and not what all this spying is or was ever about -
except indeed state
terrorism, on its own people, which it enables, maintains and
The governments want
to know what you - each of you, and any of you
- is up to; who you are connected with; and what may be expected from
you. And if you may be an opponent, of any kind whatsoever, it
wants to know, so that it can "take care" of you, since this is so very
much cheaper than doing anything about whatever you oppose
That is what this is
about - they never cared to protect ordinary people from terrorism, and
indeed ordinary people have an extremely small chance to be bothered by
Also, the interests
of the secret services is much
like it always was - except that the governments now have very
much more possibilities to spy on you than any government ever
had, and they are using their powers to the hilt, just as they want
total secrecy to do so, at least until they can start taking out the
of almost any kind, flavor and inspiration.
There is considerably
more, but I only quote the last paragraph:
It's a democratic
necessity that the Snowden leaks are used to bring some genuine
accountability to the NSA-GCHQ machine and its lawless industrial-scale
espionage. But to frame the controversy as a trade-off between security
and privacy misses the wider picture. The main western intelligence
agencies are instruments of global dominance, whose role in the rest of
the world has a direct impact on their own citizens. It's not the
revelations that threaten our security, but the agencies and their
political masters themselves.
Yes, I agree.
2. Top web firms urge more transparency
over UK requests for
Next, an article by Rowena
Mason, also in the Guardian:
This starts as follows, and is
I would have formulated it
differently, I guess, but it is at the very least interesting news that
there is a joint memo by Facebook,
Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Twitter, and that it advocates "greater
Britain needs to have a
full public debate about the scale of internetsurveillance to
give confidence that state powers are not being abused, the world's
five biggest internet companies have told MPs.
In a joint memo,
Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Twitter have called for the UK
government to allow greater transparency about requests for them to
hand over data on their users.
Their evidence to the
home affairs select committee comes after the Guardian's revelations about the scale of mass surveillance
by the security services in the US and UK based on leaked documents
from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.
There is considerably more in the article, but this also is just a
step, although indeed in the good direction.
Disinformation: There's No Evidence That Massive Data Collection
Thwarts Terror Attacks
Next, an article by Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer, that
I found on AlterNet, but is originally from Pro Publica:
This starts as follows:
Quite so: it was and is all propaganda
relations" prose, that is lies, deception,
and misinformation, that indeed was and is
possible because of the extreme secrecy in which the NSA and the GCHQ
are allowed to operate by their governments.
Two weeks after Edward
Snowden’s first revelations about sweeping government surveillance,
President Obama shot back. “We know of at least 50 threats that have
been averted because of this information not just in the United States,
but, in some cases, threats here in Germany,” Obama said during
a visit to Berlin in June. “So lives have been saved.”
In the months since,
intelligence officials, media outlets, and members of Congress from
both parties all repeated versions of the claim that NSA surveillance
has stopped more than 50 terrorist attacks. The figure has become a key
talking point in the debate around the spying programs.
“Fifty-four times this
and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here
and in Europe — saving real lives,” Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan
Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on
the House floor in July, referring to programs authorized by a pair of
post-9/11 laws. “This isn’t a game. This is real.”
But there's no evidence
that the oft-cited figure is accurate.
There is quite a bit more, that I leave to you: my own position on what
the spying is really for I gave above: It does not
serve to counter terrorism from others, though this also is covered by
it; it does serve to enable governments to terrorize their own
populations, and that is what is is mainly about.
If indeed it was about terrorists, the whole spying would be much
more specific; would not take up each and anyone's phone
conversations, meta data, and internet activities, and indeed might
have succeeded in scoring a few successes, that now did not occur,
because everyone got surveilled, which is the central point of the
whole process: Control the population, so as to be able to weed out any
opposition (except perhaps from Congressmen and Senators: see the next
4. Are You Spying On Me?
Amid Accusations, Germany's Merkel Calls Obama for Answers
Next, the first of two (out of many more) articles on Angela Merkel's
being spied upon by the NSA (or the GCHQ). This is by John Queally on
I note, to start with, the
subtitle (bolding in the original):
This starts as follows:
White House says
surveillance is 'not' currently underway, but refuses to say whether or
not it has spied on German leader in the past
Did the U.S.
National Security Agency spy on the phone or email communications of
German Chancellor Angela Merkel?
And indeed there is an
American reaction, both by Obama and his spokesperson, and I quote the
latter, who is Caitlin Hayden, the White House's National Security
According to government
sources in Germany, there was enough speculation that Merkel herself
phoned President Obama on Wednesday demanding a clarification about the
As the Guardian reports:
The German government
claims to have obtained information suggesting that the United States may
have monitored the mobile phone of Angela Merkel. The
chancellor called Barack Obama to
demand an immediate clarification, it said.
"We swiftly sent a
request to our American partners asking for an immediate and
comprehensive clarification," Steffen Seibert, a German government
spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday.
States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of
Chancellor Merkel. Beyond that, I'm not in a position to comment
publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity."
This poses several questions. First, can you trust them? I'd
say you cannot, also not if you are Germany's Chancellor: both the
Mexican and the Brazilian presidents' conversations have been listened
to, in secret. Second, this
spokesperson clearly does not say Chancellor Merkel has
been spied upon. Third, the spokesperson does not say that
anybody else Chancellor Merkel has spoken to - as may be clear from her
socalled metadata - have not been spied upon. Fourth, the
spokesperson pretends Chancellor Merkel's complaints are neither
serious nor of concern: she said she is not going "to comment publicly on every specific alleged
intelligence activity", as if the Chancellor is just a mere nobody with
some silly complaint.
5. Merkel's Phone: Spying Suspicions Put Obama in a Tight
Finally, here is an article in the English on line edition of the
German Der Spiegel, by Sebastian Fischer:
I skip various things, and
immediately come to one of my above points:
There is really no
reason for reassurance if one listens closely to what Obama's spokesman
Carney said. Again: "The President assured the Chancellor that the
United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications
of Chancellor Merkel." That statement is made in the present and future
tenses. But what about the past? Has Merkel's phone been under
surveillance in the past, or not? When asked by SPIEGEL, a spokeswoman
of the US National Security Council would not say if Obama's assurance
that the chancellor is not being monitored also applied to the past.
This point also was being emphasized in political circles in Berlin
Quite so - and I would say
that the refusal to answer questions about listening to Chancellor
Merkel's conversations in the past, is a strong sign this has
There is also this:
increasingly putting the credibility of the US on the line, even with
the country's allies -- all the while calling for America to go back to
using its "soft power." The repeated line from the US government that
all intelligence services employ similar methods is hardly believable
any longer. One thing has become clear: Not all intelligence services
have the same capabilities as those of the United States.
Yes, although the last point
can and should be formulated much stronger: All other
intelligence services very probably, at this moment and in the past, lack
"the same capabilities as those
of the United States".
This does not mean they would not want to have them, nor does it mean
they would not use them as freely as the United States has done. It
means only that, so far, they very probably lacked the money to
such a system, and also they may lack the expertise to do so.
Finally, one more thing: Personally, I do not much mind that the German
chancellor's phone calls may have been known for several years to Keith
Alexander and James Clapper, or indeed to Barack Obama. That is, I
should not happen, but having read the above it seems more
than not that it has.
But what I am personally concerned with is the spying on every
this concern hardly grows less, if at all, if I were to learn that
heads of states
are excepted (if you can believe Alexander, Clapper and Obama).
For me, the Fourth Amendment applies: All persons should
have privacy, except if there is a specific complaint against
them, that merits spying on them, for a limited time, and that
spying is controlled by a judge, who also can, in principle, be heard,
instead of being one of many, in a secret court, with secret decisions.
That is, with my bolding added:
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment to the US Constitution
 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
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.