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Nederlog


  December
19, 2013
Crisis:  Berners-Lee, Obama's panel, Greenwald's testimony
  "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.











Sections
Introduction
  1. Tim Berners-Lee leads call for more transparency over
       mass surveillance

  2. Obama review panel: strip NSA of power to collect
       phone data records

  3. Greenwald Reveals 'Crux' of NSA Spying:
       The 'Elimination of Individual Privacy Worldwide'
 
  4. Personal

About ME/CFS

Introduction

After two days of plenty, today there are only three crisis items. I'll first write these, and then decide whether there is time to add some of the items I wanted to treat besides. (Answer: I did not - see item 4.)

In any case, I should say I have corrected a date in my last autobiographical piece, and corrected a few typos and added some boldings to yesterday's Nederlog.

1.  Tim Berners-Lee leads call for more transparency over mass surveillance 

To start with, an article by Alex Hern in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has collaborated with more than 100 free speech groups and leading activists in an open letter to protest against the routine interception of data by governments around the world.

In the letter to the Open Government Partnership, the group condemns the hypocrisy of member nations in signing up to an organisation which aims to preserve freedom while at the same time running one of the largest surveillance networks the world has ever seen.

The organisations that have signed up include Oxfam, Privacy International and the Open Rights Group, and the individuals include Satbir Singh of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Indian social activist Aruna Roy.

The letter calls on member governments to overhaul their privacy laws, protect whistleblowers and increase the transparency around their surveillance mechanisms.

This seems to me quite important, though indeed precisely therefore it may very well be neglected by the White House and the media.

They also say this:

"Laws to limit the state’s power to spy on its citizens are fundamental to democracy’s checks and balances. But these laws are outdated," said Anne Jellema, the chief executive of the World Wide Web Foundation, which was founded by Berners-Lee to promote a free internet.

"With digital technologies making it trivially easy to collect and store billions of pieces of data on entire populations, and with public interest whistleblowers receiving little protection, the whole system of checks and balances on state power is being pushed dangerously close to breaking point," Jellema continued. "We are calling for an urgent public debate to review and strengthen the safeguards that will keep our societies open".

I agree more than not, in the sense that I agree there are too few laws regulating the internet. Then again, it is difficult to regulate it by law, since it is transnational, which means that most laws cannot effect much of it, except by explicit censorship, that I am against.

And there is another important point here: I think that the laws aand regulations that are in place, such as the Fourth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States and also the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 are quite sufficient to see that (1) what the NSA and the GCHQ and others do when spying on people without any specific reason or warrant is against the law, and that (2) all arguments by the Obama and the Cameron administration that say otherwise are based on arbitrary, often also secret, restatements and interpretations of the law, that make no legal sense.

There is considerably more in the article.

2. Obama review panel: strip NSA of power to collect phone data records 

Next, an article by Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency should be banned from attempting to undermine the security of the internet and stripped of its power to collect telephone records in bulk, a White House review panel recommended on Wednesday.

In a 300-page report prepared for President Obama, the panel made 46 recommendations, including that the authority for spying on foreign leaders should be granted at a higher level than at present.

Though far less sweeping than campaigners have urged, and yet to be ratified by Obama, the report by his Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology comes as the White House faces growing pressure over its so-called “bulk collection” programs from US courts and business interests.

I have not read the report, for I did not find it and also it is 300 pages, but if this is the best they have - effectively: let the phone companies collect the data, and let somebody higher up than the level on which Snowden operated decide to spy on chancellor Merkel's and all other presidents' phone calls - I think it is mostly bullshit, that seems especially prepared as bullshit.

Considerably further on in the article, it is said:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the privacy advocates suing the Obama administration over the bulk surveillance, expressed disappointment with the review group report. “The review board floats a number of interesting reform proposals, and we're especially happy to see them condemn the NSA's attacks on encryption and other security systems people rely upon,” attorney Kurt Opsahl said.

“But we’re disappointed that the recommendations suggest a path to continue untargeted spying. Mass surveillance is still heinous, even if private company servers are holding the data instead of government data centers.”

(...)

“Bulk collection of personal data should simply end,” said Alan Butler, an attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Yes, indeed. And again: Any government that spies on all its citizens is a totalitarian government, that uses totalitarian means, and should go.

There is also this:

Civil libertarian groups have been skeptical of the report for months, fearing that the White House established the insider panel to give Obama and the NSA cover to implement merely cosmetic changes. Advisers to the panel have told the Guardian since September that the panel was stopping well short of meaningful privacy reforms.

I quite agree: I fear this report is mostly bullshit, that will only be used to legitimate cosmetic changes.

3. Greenwald Reveals 'Crux' of NSA Spying: The 'Elimination of
Individual Privacy Worldwide'
 

Next, an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Appearing via live feed before an EU Commission committee on mass surveillance Wednesday, independent journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed what he believed to be the "crux" of the reporting on the NSA so far.

According to Greenwald, what the European ministers—and the world—should know about the spy agency's ultimate objective is that it is "nothing less than the elimination of individual privacy worldwide."

Yes, indeed: I quite agree, and have said I suspected so already on October 29, 2005, in Dutch, a warning that was repeated several times, and that was last stated quite clearly by me on Christmas 2012, in English, where I laid down a number of hypotheses that since have been abundantly confirmed by Snowden's revelations, that took up most of my attention the last half year, and indeed were laid down in many Nederlogs.

The reason I concluded so in 2005 was especially that I saw not the least reason for all the "anti-terrorism" legislation the Dutch wanted to introduce, and did introduce, and namely because none of these measures were even contemplated during the very far more dangerous years of the cold war, when the enemy was an enormous bloc of socialist states, with very large armies and atomic weapons, which were far more dangerous than anything "Al Qaeda" could do, even if they were 10, a 100 or a 1000 times more effective than NSA spokespersons like to pretend they are.

My problem at present is that I have not seen yet 1 hour 22 minutes of Greenwald's testimony, although he does get cited in the article. Here are the cited parts, with my bolding and comments:

As he [Glenn Greenwald - MM] told the panel:

There has been a virtual avalanche of stories and reports over the last six months over espionage and virtual spying by the NSA and its partners and each of these stories has been extremely important, but I think the quantity of them has sometimes endangered the ultimate point from being obscured. So I just wanted to spend a little bit of time discussing what I think is the primary revelation, the crux, of all of these stories that ties them together and—that I think—is the most important thing for us to realize:

That is, what the ultimate goal of what the NSA—along with its most loyal, one might say subservient, junior partner, the British agency GCHQ—when it comes to the reason why this system of surveillance is being built. And the objective of this system is nothing less than the elimination of individual privacy worldwide.

And, at first glance, that might seem like it's a bit hyperbolic—like it's a little bit melodramatic—but it isn't. It's a literal description of what the NSA and what its closest surveillance partners are attempting to achieve. And the reason I know this is what they are attempting to achieve is because they say it over and over and over again. On occasion they say it publicly and repeatedly they say it in their private documents, which were written when they thought nobody was able to hear what it was they were saying.

Quite so. It is state terrorism that aims at the creation of a police state, quite as William Binney (<- Wikipedia) said, whom I quoted yesterday, and who was one of the top spies of the NSA, until he was dismissed because he was against total surveillance.

Here is more by Greenwald:

Citing the often-quoted "collect-it-all" mandate of government spy agencies, Greenwald continued, "The NSA doesn't need a specific reason to collect any communications. The fact that people are communicating is reason enough."

"Every story we've done is driven by this overarching theme," he intoned. "The significance of this reporting, what Mr. Snowden revealed, can't be overstated."

Again, I quite agree: The only reason the NSA, the GCHQ, and other spying agencies are collecting everything they can get (which is everything that is done with a computer or cellphone) is that they want to control everything, and all baloney about "terrorism" was bullshit from before the moment it started: There is no danger of terrorism by "Al Qaeda", for even if they may wrack some havoc, which they have done, they never were in any position to do what the Soviet Union could have done, which is blowing up the US with atomic bombs, and "Al Qaeda" never had territory or well-trained armies.

Besides, as William Binney and other ex-NSA persons, like Russell Tice (<- Wikipedia), have clearly stated:

The desire to collect all was there even before 9/11 - and 9/11 served mostly as a pretext for unlimited spying on everyone, and for starting a war against Iraq, again on the pretext that they had atomic or chemical weapons, that again was an aim of Bush Jr. and Dick Cheney from before 9/11.

As Greenwald said:

"What a lot of this spying is about has nothing to do with terrorism and national security," Greenwald added. "That is the pretext. It is about diplomatic manipulation and economic advantage.”

Quite so. And power and influence: The only valid reason to collect everyone's data is that the governors and their bureaucrats have a desire to control everyone, which they now also can practice, for the first time in human history, which they try to do.

It is a completely totalitarian idea, whatever the government's political color, and it is extremely dangerous, again whatever the government's political color: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton.

Well, this is by far the most absolute power that any government ever had, and it is no miracle at all that it corrupts nearly everyone.

Finally, you can find a copy of the video with Greenwald's testimony at the end of the article.

4. Personal

Since it is 18.45 now, I upload this, and will wait to the weekend, or so I presently assume, for some more on the subjects I do wish to treat in Nederlog apart from the crisis. For it still is the case I would like to comment less on it, not because it isn't important, but because it is too journalistic for my taste and talents.

---------------------------------
Note

[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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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