19, 2013
Crisis: Ashdown, court order, Scheer, personal
  "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. Surveillance technology out of control, says Lord

  2. Court order that allowed NSA surveillance is revealed for
       first time

Be Thankful For the People Struggling to Limit NSA

  4. Personal
About ME/CFS


This is again another crisis item, but I am getting more doubtful about them because it costs me a lot of time and energy to write them; it seems nobody
appreciates them (I got more than 1,3 million hits this year, but received four, that is 4, mails this year from people I did not know - which may be because my
mail gets sorted behind my back, but even so [2]); and also, as I said before, the
work is too journalistic to satisfy my needs and talents.

But OK, here is another one, but it is brief, and indeed I did not find much crisis-related materials either.

1.  Surveillance technology out of control, says Lord Ashdown    

To start with, an article by Nick Hopkins and Matthew Taylor in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The technology used by Britain's spy agencies to conduct mass surveillance is "out of control", raising fears about the erosion of civil liberties at a time of diminished trust in the intelligence services, according to the former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown.

The peer said it was time for a high-level inquiry to address fundamental questions about privacy in the 21st century, and railed against "lazy politicians" who frighten people into thinking "al-Qaida is about to jump out from behind every bush and therefore it is legitimate to forget about civil liberties". "Well it isn't," he added.

Yes, quite so - and it may also help some that Ashdown (<- Wikipedia) has been an intelligence officer in the UK security services.

He also said:
In an interview with the Guardian, Ashdown said surveillance should only be conducted against specific targets when there was evidence against them. Dragnet surveillance was unacceptable, he added.
It was appropriate for the state to intervene in the private communications of its citizens, but the peer added "only in cases where there is good evidence to believe the nation's security is being threatened, or arguably, when a really serious crime has been committed".
Again: Quite so. He also blamed Blair's Labour goverment, I think with jsutice:

He also criticised the Labour party, which was in power when the agencies began testing and building many of their most powerful surveillance capabilities. Labour's former home secretary Jack Straw was responsible for introducing the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000 (Ripa), which made the programmes legal.

"Ripa was a disgraceful piece of legislation," Ashdown said. "Nobody put any thought into it. Labour just took the words they were given by the intelligence agencies. I don't blame the intelligence agencies.

Also, Lord Ashdowm was not as happy with Sir Malcolm Rifkind as is Sir Malcolm:

The Lib Dem also dismissed the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, chaired by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, which is supposed to scrutinise the agencies.

He said that it was an institution "wholly incapable of coping" with the new circumstances.

There is more there, including a criticism of Edward Snowden (that I can't see as being justified), but overall this is quite sensible.

2.  Court order that allowed NSA surveillance is revealed for first time

Next, an article by Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

A secret court order that authorised a massive trawl by the National Security Agency of Americans' email and internet data was published for the first time on Monday night, among a trove of documents that also revealed a judge's concern that the NSA "continuously" and "systematically" violated the limits placed on the program.

The order by the Fisa court, almost certainly its first ruling on the controversial program and published only in heavily redacted form, shows that it granted permisson for the trawl in part beacause of the type of devices used for the surveillance. Even the judge approving the spying called it a “novel use” of government authorities.

Another later court order found that what it called "systemic overcollection" had taken place.

Note the "secret court order", which means that I do not believe it - at its very best this may have "authorized" the massive trawl, but it cannot, in a free and open society, have authorized it.

Then again, it is something that these secret documents have been released now, albeit it in redacted form, which is another major shame,
in a free and open society, and especially as this concerns the past.

Anyway, this is a long and complicated piece, and I'm leaving it to you, except for this part:
“On the logic of these opinions almost every digital footprint we leave behind can be vacuumed up by the government – who we talk to, what we read, where we go online," said Patrick Toomey, an attorney with the ACLU. "Like previous releases these materials show the danger of a government that sidesteps public debate and instead grounds its surveillance powers in the secret opinions of a secret court. The more we learn the clearer it is that our surveillance laws and oversight rules are in dramatic need of reform."
Yes, quite so. And I again add that I reject secret opinions and secret courts:

That is not justice, but a mere pretence of justice. There are a few cases in which some secrets have to be kept, but to settle the stealing of everything everybody mails, or writes, or phones by secret court orders is to settle things in a fascist way.

3.  Be Thankful For the People Struggling to Limit NSA Spying

Finally today, an article by Robert Scheer on Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:
On Monday the Supreme Court, ruling on an emergency petition, declined to do the right thing and hear a case challenging the massive government surveillance of Americans, revealed by the leaks from Edward Snowden. For the time being, the court acceded to the Obama administration’s argument that it has the legal right to continue its unprecedented bulk collection of American phone records without any restraint. That throws the ball back to Congress, where a historic battle, crossing party lines, is already underway.
Well, Obama's administration does not have the legal right to mass surveilance at all, and if it ever does get them, which is quite possible, it will no longer be a free nor an open society, but an unfree, closed, and authoritarian society.

Next, after Scheer's discussion of "the dark figure of Diane Feinstein" and an brief exposition of Leahy and Sensenbrenner, he says:

A decade ago, Leahy and Sensenbrenner helped draft the USA Patriot Act, which they now believe has been abused by the executive branch and underscore the point by labeling their new legislation the USA Freedom Act. Sensenbrenner has been at pains to present his bill as contrary to the Feinstein measure, which he assailed as an effort “for the first time in our country’s history to allow unrestrained spying on the American people.”

Leahy, in a Nov. 4 interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, defended his legislation’s effort to rein in the NSA’s bulk collection: “The NSA says because we can collect every one of your phone calls and imprints and everything else, we need to be able to do it in case someday we need it. Well, you can imagine if the local police department said, ‘We’re just going to break into your house, steal everything out of your files, everything out of your records, because someday we may need it,’ everybody would be in an uproar. But if they can do the same thing electronically, we ought to say wait a minute. Also, I get the response when I criticize them, they say, ‘we’re going to be very careful, we’re going to protect these records.’ Baloney. This is the same NSA that couldn’t protect their greatest secret from a 29-year-old subcontractor who stole them all. ...”

Yes, quite so. And besides: You cannot trust the government, not even if it were a good government, for governors are extremely powerful persons, who cannot be left to do as they please on some sort of vague "trust", as Obama wants, while he does awful things, and you cannot rely on secret orders from secret courts, for you want documentary and public proof of everything they do, with the exception of very few things, and even these exceptions ought to be overseen by public judges, who may not give all information, but whose decisions are public and published in full.

Again, without this, you do not live in an open and free society, whatever your governors tell you - and indeed there is little left of an open and free society if, as is the case, the information that caused all the above is produced by a 29-year old whistleblower, who got enormously smeared, and is in hiding in Russia, while  Obama still pretends all that is lacking is "trust" in him.

As Scheer ends his piece:
There you have it, legislators from both sides of the congressional aisle have risen in response to the Snowden leaks with serious demands for reform to protect the privacy of Americans from public officials, including President Obama and Sen. Feinstein, who are craven iceberg deniers.
4. Personal

This was again a fairly brief Nederlog. The three main reasons are also stated in the introduction: it costs me a lot of time and energy; while I have several millions of hits and several hundreds of thousands of visitors this year I get almost no mail (4 - that is: four - mails in all, this whole year, that were new, for whatever reason); and the work not only costs me a lot of time and energy, but is also not the sort of journalistic work I want to do, or indeed I was trained to do.

P.S. Nov 20, 2013: Added a link.

[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.)

[2] I really do not know, but I do know that until ca. 2006/7 I got far more mail and far more spam than I get now, while my site is at least twice or thrice as large. I find 1 mail per 100.000 visitors, which is what it comes down to, ridiculously low for what I offer, but indeed my name, and my father's name, and his father's name are certainly known to the Dutch secret service, that certainly is no better than the American one. (But I really do not know, and indeed cannot know.)

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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