26, 2013
Crisis: Greenwald, GCHQ, NSA, Stop Watching Us, Countries
  "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. As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says
       government must stop media

  2. Leaked memos reveal GCHQ efforts to keep mass
       surveillance secret

  3. The NSA scandal puts Europe to the test
  4. 'Stop Watching Us': Snowden Reaches Out to Endorse
       DC Rally

  5. Countries Which Want to Rein In NSA Spying Collectively
       Have Bigger Economies than the U.S. + (..) 

About ME/CFS


There are again five sections on the crisis and there also is today a demonstration in Washington DC and elsewhere in the US: see item 4.

Also, I have currently problems with my back, so making this was more difficult than it used to be. This - and my mulling about my former girlfriend Stephanie, although I grant that is rather senseless, since it (mostly) occurred 40+ years ago, but my memories are rather fresh, and she was rather amazing, in several respects - is also why there is today nothing on how I wish to change the reporting.

More about this later.

1.  As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says government must stop media

The first item today is by Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The most under-discussed aspect of the NSA story has long been its international scope. That all changed this week as both Germany and France exploded with anger over new revelations about pervasive NSA surveillance on their population and democratically elected leaders.

As was true for Brazil previously, reports about surveillance aimed at leaders are receiving most of the media attention, but what really originally drove the story there were revelations that the NSA is bulk-spying on millions and millions of innocent citizens in all of those nations. The favorite cry of US government apologists -–everyone spies! – falls impotent in the face of this sort of ubiquitous, suspicionless spying that is the sole province of the US and its four English-speaking surveillance allies (the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

Right - but let me restate that last (utterly false) point that "everyone spies!":

No, not at all, unless you were living under Stalin or in the DDR and similar totalitarian "socialist"states - or indeed unless you are a modern citizen living in the US and Western Europe, lately, the last eight or more years.

And in either case, almost the only spies, and the only spies who cover all mail, all sites, and all transactions done by computers, are some very few who are both protected and kept in the dark by the very governments that are supposed to be, and that claim to be, "democratic", "free", and "open".

This spying, by governments on their total civilian populations, on everything they do, regardless from who they are, is totally new outside a Stalinesque context.

And the only reason for it to happen is that those who spy and their governors want to totally control everybody, and want the police state they have been creating, perhaps (!) not because it is a police state they want, but because they want the control this implies, for it would make their lives a lot easier, and probably also a lot richer.

Finally, I have been saying the above, in Dutch, for eight years, and since 2005.

Greenwald considers several points I leave to you, but not the third:

Third, is there any doubt at all that the US government repeatedly tried to mislead the world when insisting that this system of suspicionless surveillance was motivated by an attempt to protect Americans from The Terrorists™? Our reporting has revealed spying on conferences designed to negotiate economic agreements, the Organization of American States, oil companies, ministries that oversee mines and energy resources, the democratically elected leaders of allied states, and entire populations in those states.

Can even President Obama and his most devoted loyalists continue to maintain, with a straight face, that this is all about Terrorism?

To answer that: Yes, they can and they will. And note that I am talking about their propaganda, their public relations, rather than about what they really think (that very few know).

There is more there, that I leave to you. I only observe that the very last part is:


As many of you likely know, it was announced last week that I am leaving the Guardian. My last day here will be 31 October, and I will write my last column on that date.

I do wonder how his reporting will be published now, but I suppose there will be some pointers.

2. Leaked memos reveal GCHQ efforts to keep mass surveillance secret

Next, an article by James Ball, in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has repeatedly warned it fears a "damaging public debate" on the scale of its activities because it could lead to legal challenges against its mass-surveillance programmes, classified internal documents reveal.

Memos contained in the cache disclosed by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden detail the agency's long fight against making intercept evidence admissible as evidence in criminal trials – a policy supported by all three major political parties, but ultimately defeated by the UK's intelligence community.

Foremost among the reasons was a desire to minimise the potential for challenges against the agency's large-scale interception programmes, rather than any intrinsic threat to security, the documents show.

Which is to say: the GCHQ knows very well they break the existing laws in truly unprecedented and massive ways, but they do it anyway, and try to also manipulate the public discussion so it is on their terms.

As the documents reveal, the GCHQ themselves wrote:

"We are working closely with HO [Home Office] on their plans for press handling when the final report is published, e.g. lining up talking heads (such as Lord Carlisle [sic], Lord Stevens, Sir Stephen Lander, Sir Swinton Thomas)."

Note these talking heads for the GCHQ are called "talking heads" by the GCHQ.

And as to their knowledge they were massively breaking the existing laws:

Referring to the decision to publish the report on intercept as evidence without classification, it noted: "Our main concern is that references to agency practices (ie the scale of interception and deletion) could lead to damaging public debate which might lead to legal challenges against the current regime." A later update, from May 2012, set out further perceived "risks" of making intercepts admissible, including "the damage to partner relationships if sensitive information were accidentally released in open court". It also noted that the "scale of interception and retention required would be fairly likely to be challenged on Article 8 (Right to Privacy) grounds".

That is: They wanted the scale of their spying kept secret, both because they feared public debate and legal challenges; they wanted not to appear in open court, and the same for their partners (the NSA); and they knew they were breaking the law as regards the Right to Privacy.

In any case, there is rather a lot more I leave to you, but I do quote the quotation with which it ends - and I added the bolding:

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and Anthony Romero Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a joint statement stating:

"The Guardian's publication of information from Edward Snowden has uncovered a breach of trust by the US and UK Governments on the grandest scale. The newspaper's principled and selective revelations demonstrate our rulers' contempt for personal rights, freedoms and the rule of law.

"Across the globe, these disclosures continue to raise fundamental questions about the lack of effective legal protection against the interception of all our communications.

"Yet in Britain, that conversation is in danger of being lost beneath self-serving spin and scaremongering, with journalists who dare to question the secret state accused of aiding the enemy.

"A balance must of course be struck between security and transparency, but that cannot be achieved whilst the intelligence services and their political masters seek to avoid any scrutiny of, or debate about, their actions.

"The Guardian's decision to expose the extent to which our privacy is being violated should be applauded and not condemned."

To which I say: yes, quite so.

3.  The NSA scandal puts Europe to the test

Next, an article by a Belgian politician, Guy Verhofstadt, also in the Guardian:
I'll leave this mostly to you, except for noting that it contains some good things, and also some bad ones, like this:
Leaked NSA memos revealed by the Guardian suggest up to 35 world leaders have been similarly treated [as Angela Merkel - MM]. But this is not just an elite spying exercise. The NSA has been trawling through 70m communications from French citizens in the space of just one month. This is spying on a massive scale and clearly not exclusively directed at combating terrorism.

A case can be made for secret services to monitor phone calls and internet use of suspected terrorists or criminal gangs under the supervision of a judge or a minister who can be held accountable, but the systematic hacking of world leaders goes way beyond the bounds of good behaviour; it would be a very ugly world if no one could be trusted.

This all seems decent enough, until it gets to the point of "but the systematic hacking of world leaders goes way beyond the bounds of good behaviour" - as if anyone may be spied upon, except world leaders, and that because their populations should trust their leaders.

For me, and for I.F. Stone, that is the world standing on its head, but then it is by a Belgian politician.

4. 'Stop Watching Us': Snowden Reaches Out to Endorse DC Rally

Next, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams, that also reminds you that today there is a demonstration:

This starts as follows:
Amid yet another round of explosive revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency and ahead of a large rally organized by a large coalition of social justice and privacy advocates planned for Saturday, whistleblower Edward Snowden urged his fellow U.S. citizens to speak out against NSA surveillance by telling Congress and the Obama administration: 'Stop Watching Us.'

In a rare public statement, released through the ACLU, Snowden said:

In the last four months, we've learned a lot about our government.

We've learned that the U.S. intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA's hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong.

Now it's time for the government to learn from us. On Saturday, the ACLU, EFF, and the rest of the StopWatching.Us coalition are going to D.C. Join us in sending the message: Stop Watching Us.

A large rally is planned for Washington, DC on Saturday with satellite events taking place in cities across the country.

Sofar I have not heard any news about this, but indeed I live in Holland. There is more in the article, that also includes the video I included yesterday.

5. Countries Which Want to Rein In NSA Spying Collectively Have
            Bigger Economies than the U.S. and Its Spy Buddies

Finally, as far as reporting on the crisis is concerned, an article on Washington's Blog, that concerns finances:  This starts as follows, and the bolding and coloring are in the original:

21 Nations Line Up Behind UN Effort To Stop NSA

Foreign Policy reports that 21 nations have joined the push for the adoption of a United Nations General Resolution protecting internet privacy against NSA spying.

They include the following nations:  Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway, Paraguay, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.

What the article does is summing the dollar values of their economies, and it finds that, at least when Russia and China are added, the total dollar value exceeeds that of the US.

What is the relevance? That money talks, usually more effectively and more powerfully than mere unpaid activists: Someone has to stop it, and as really stopping it may take a lot of time and money, this makes some sense.

And in any case, it also is something to have 21 nations - not including Holland, indeed, but then that as a rule follows the U.S. and always did, since 1945 - protest against the NSA.

But also I have no firm assurance this will help much.


[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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