20, 2013
Crisis:  Jenkins, Fisa courts,  Swiss, NSA,  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. The days of believing spy chiefs who say 'Trust us' are

  2. Fisa court documents reveal extent of NSA disregard for
       privacy restrictions

While Swiss Limit CEO Pay, We Can’t Even Enforce Our
       Pay Laws

  4. NSA Spying’s Economic Fallout
  5. Personal
About ME/CFS


This is another crisis file, that has been made a bit earlier than is usual. There are four articles in it in the first four sections, and a brief personal bit in the last section.

1. The days of believing spy chiefs who say 'Trust us' are over

To start with, an article by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:

This is from the beginning:
Two defendants, AB and CD, are on trial at the Old Bailey as "terrorism suspects". The crown prosecution service has asked the judge to impose anonymity on the defendants, the charges, the evidence and indeed the reporting of the trial. Even the reasons for asking should be secret. "Public interest immunity certificates" have floated in the air like snow as judges, prosecutors and police prepared a witches' Sabbath of secrecy.

Not so fast, said the admirable Mr Justice Sweeney on Monday. He wanted a clear explanation to his court as to why secrecy was necessary. Any exemption from the principle of open justice, he said, "must be very clearly made out after every party [including counsel for the press] has the opportunity to make submissions". All the CPS had offered as justification were "operational reasons" and "to prevent the administration of justice from being damaged". It must now do better.

I agree Mr Justice Sweeney is admirable.  For indeed, as Jenkins writes, quite a lot further down:
What is it the police wish to keep secret and why? I have no problem with keeping names secret in some trials, as with certain sex crimes and family cases. Nor is Sweeney opposing secrecy in the AB/CD case. He merely regards justice as requiring openness prime facie. If it cannot be open, then the reasons for closure must be open. He and his court must be persuaded, not just told.
Yes, quite so - except that I would have thought almost any decent British judge would reason as Sweeney did, though I have now learned that many do not, which means for me that they have forsaken their real judicial duties, and should go (which I do not expect).

Also, Jenkins continues as follows:

The days are over when those demanding secrecy for their work can offer the dismissive excuses of the three intelligence chiefs to Westminster's intelligence and security committee earlier this month. This boiled down to "Trust us, we are policemen". How could anyone trust people who delivered Britain's entire wardrobe of state secrets, some 60,000 files, to a potential audience of up to 800,000 Americans, including an honest but appalled private contractor named Snowden – and that after the Manning-Assange revelations. They must have known it would all leak.

British intelligence was saved from catastrophe only by Snowden not dumping his material on the web but giving it to what he regarded as responsible journalists. The newspapers, notably the Guardian, published less than 1% of the material judged as clearly in the public interest. This was after consulting (if not always agreeing with) security authorities on both sides of the Atlantic. British intelligence asserts that national security was endangered and lives put at risk. No American source has repeated that claim, but rather acknowledged a gross intelligence failure badly in need of correction.

Indeed, though I have two provisos. First, I am not convinced those in power see things as does Simon Jenkins. Second, while I agree with him on the total fallaciousness (and depravity) of the argument "Trust us, we are policemen", I am not convinced this extremely cheap bit of utter shit will not be used again.

But these may be due to my cynicism. Otherwise, I agree with him, also on the fundamental responsibility of both the Guardian and of Snowden.

There is quite a lot more in the article, that I leave to you.

2. Fisa court documents reveal extent of NSA disregard for privacy restrictions 

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

Newly declassified court documents indicate that the National Security Agency shared its trove of American bulk email and internet data with other government agencies in violation of specific court-ordered procedures to protect Americans’ privacy.

The dissemination of the sensitive data transgressed both the NSA’s affirmations to the secret surveillance court about the extent of the access it provided, and prompted incensed Fisa court judges to question both the NSA’s truthfulness and the value of the now-cancelled program to counter-terrorism.

While the NSA over the past several months has portrayed its previous violations of Fisa court orders as “technical” violations or inadvertent errors, the oversharing of internet data is described in the documents as apparent widespread and unexplained procedural violations.

Which is to say that the NSA lied to everyone, including their own secret judges in their own secret courts - which is indeed what one should expect from spies and spooks that are kept in secret by the government they work for, and seem to have worked since 9/11 without any effective control or oversight.

There is rather a lot more that I leave to you, though I should say that the sum up is that you just canot trust the NSA, but I do quote the end:

Elizabeth Goitien of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University said that the declassified opinions raise disturbing questions about the NSA’s truthfulness.

“Either the NSA is really trying to comply with the court’s orders and is absolutely incapable of doing so, in which case it’s terrifying that they’re performing this surveillance, or they’re not really trying to comply,” Goitien said.

“Neither of those explanations is particularly comforting.”

Yes, indeed - and my guesses are that they never even intended to comply, believing they were acting in secret, and that they also never really complied, and also that they also really were surprised by Edward Snowden's revelations.

3. While Swiss Limit CEO Pay, We Can’t Even Enforce Our Pay Laws

Next, an article by Dave Johnson on Campaign for America's future:
This I mainly quote because I mentioned in a Nederlog of some days ago that I am not against income differences which are as large as 15 to 1, where I am 1, and the 15 times as many are earned by some bankmanager, even though I insist the bankmanager is less intelligent and less learned than most academics (though quite possibly, given his career, a greater bastard).

My reasons to say so were mostly that I spent some 50 years living under such a regime or policy; that I do not demand nobody gets more than me, and also not that some earn quite a lot more; but that I find it both insane and indecent to see a few managers get millions a year, essentially for doing very little, and only because they manage banks.

Well, according to the opening of Johnson's article the Swiss think similarly:
The Wall Street reform law that passed in 2010 includes a requirement that companies disclose the ratio of CEO pay to median pay. This law is still obstructed from enforcement. Meanwhile voters in Switzerland are considering placing a 12:1 cap on CEO pay — an idea that is spreading across Europe.
To be sure, this is an American reporting on Europe, and I, although I am European, had not heard of it, but then again the Dutch papers that are available to me these days are full of amusements, and crap, and sports, and TV news, and hidden or half hidden support for Louis Vuitton's shit, and other total bullshit, but they rarely report the real news, although I do not say they did not, somewhere in a brief note in a back page, but merely that I mostly stopped reading the Dutch advertisement sheets papers, for these are very annoying, at least if your IQ is halfway decent and you also know a little bit.

But yes: I find such a rule quite fair, and I would support it, as I also would support the notion that these rules be broken only in rare cases for academics and artists, since these are two human endeavors were a few true geniuses function, and that is definitely not the case in business or management in any ordinary salaried job, even if they are "quants".
4. NSA Spying’s Economic Fallout

Finally, an article by Sander Venema in Consortium News:  

This starts as follows:

In the last six months or so, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has disclosed quite a few of the NSA’s surveillance programs, revealing that the agency disregards civil rights and spies on everything and everyone, all over the world, in a Pokémon-style “Gotta catch ‘em all!” fashion. The actions of the NSA are also having a real effect on the U.S. economy.

The actions of the U.S. government and more specifically what the NSA is doing with its surveillance programs are having a big impact, especially on the tech industry in Silicon Valley. As a European, why would I store my data on servers in the United States, where this data is easily accessible by the NSA, among others, if I can just as easily store it in Europe or some other, more secure place?

Yes, indeed. In fact, Venema mainly writes about cloud services, which is an idea that I anyway never liked, and a facility I never used, but he is quite right that the security of American and British computer providers is zero, or indeed below zero: As is, they are commanded by secret court orders from secret courts to produce anything and everything they have, and are also not allowed to speak about this in public. That is not a free and open society, but very much like an authoritarian or fascist society.

And apart from cloud services, it seems also the security, if it is there at all, is breached, because the encryption keys have been tampered with, to enable the NSA, and in fact anybody else, easier entry.

So yes: it seems anybody who wants his data safe from prying eyes should not store them in the USA or England, and indeed also should not store them in a cloud. Whether they are really safe in Europe is quite uncertain, but as is it is at least a bit safer there than in the US.

5. Personal

In the probably quite uncommon case that you may be wondering about Stephanie Faulkner: I am still busy, almost every day, with her letters, of which I now have copied and commented four out of five of the longest, but there still is quite a bit to do, though I guess at least half has been done. I suppose I will upload them to
my own section in philosophy, and will notify this here when I have done this.

As regards other stuff: I have finished Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer", which I did not like very much, as I recall I also did not 33 years ago, when I first read it, and also his "Quiet Days in Clichy", which I did like, and I probably will soon write about both.

And I have nearly finished Bryan Magee's "Confessions of a Philosopher", that I still like a lot, though Magee is a quite different man from me, with a different philosophy and with different interests. Even so, he is an interesting man, with interesting ideas, and I also intend to write about this.

Finally, I am in the 35th year of continuous illness, that leaves me with a lot less energy than healthy people have, and a lot more pain, but this too is a bit better than it has been the last 1 1/2 years, and also than most of the first twelve years of this century, some of which were quite difficult. And I intend to write some about this as well.


[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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