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
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
More about this later.
As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says government must stop
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
No, not at all,
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,
the only spies, and the only spies who cover all mail, all sites, and
transactions done by computers, are some very few who are both
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
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,
relations, rather than about what they really think (that very
There is more there, that I
leave to you. I only observe that the very last part is:
I do wonder how his reporting
will be published now, but I suppose there will be some pointers.
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
memos reveal GCHQ efforts to keep
mass surveillance secret
Next, an article by James Ball, in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
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
discussion so it is on their terms.
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
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.
As the documents reveal, the GCHQ themselves wrote:
Note these talking heads for
the GCHQ are called "talking heads" by the GCHQ.
"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)."
And as to their knowledge they were massively breaking the existing
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.
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".
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:
To which I say: yes, quite so.
Director of Liberty and Anthony Romero Executive Director of the
American Civil Liberties Union issued a joint statement stating:
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
"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."
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.
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.'
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
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
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.
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
This starts as follows,
and the bolding and coloring are in the original:
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.
21 Nations Line Up Behind UN Effort To Stop NSA
Foreign Policy reports
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
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
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.
 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.)