24, 2013
Crisis: Snowden * 3, False Fear, 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.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

  1. Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says
       his mission’s accomplished

  2. Edward Snowden: ‘I already won’
  3. Snowden Slams NSA Review as 'Cosmetic'
  4. A History of False Fear
  5. Personal
About ME/CFS


This is another crisis item. It has four items, but tomorrow it is Christmas, and this is Christmas week, so it's not very odd there are only four items, and indeed three of them are about Edward Snowden.

1. Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished

To start with, an article by Barton Gellman in the Washington Post:

From the beginning (though not quite the start):

Late this spring, Snowden supplied three journalists, including this one, with caches of top-secret documents from the National Security Agency, where he worked as a contractor. Dozens of revelations followed, and then hundreds, as news organizations around the world picked up the story. Congress pressed for explanations, new evidence revived old lawsuits and the Obama administration was obliged to declassify thousands of pages it had fought for years to conceal.

Taken together, the revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations.
And meanwhile, Barton Gellman recently spoke with Snowden, it seems in Moscow, and this is his report of 14 hours of conversation. I advice you to read all of this, but you will also find that Snowden did reveal very little about himself (which is quite OK with me).

To begin with, here is Snowden's own estimate of what he has achieved:

“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”

“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” he said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”

I think that is a fair estimate, though I had to look up "stretch goal": This refers to ends that "cannot be achieved by incremental or small improvements but require extending oneself to the limit to be actualized".

Then again, I - who is not Edward Snowden - would very much like society to change, and the NSA to be ruled in, to stop spying on everyone or on most, and to be supervised properly. And I have not seen any of these ends realized as yet, and indeed these seem to be stretch goals as well.

Also, being more than twice as old as is Snowden, I am not much interested in the opinions of "the public", since the public seems to be normally deceived, and half of them has an IQ under 100 - which does not disqualify one as a person, but which makes it doubtful such a one can rationally judge difficult questions.

Besides, I simply disagree with surveillance of everyone, even if 99%, or a large majority, would approve: It is the nearly certain way to a police state.

Next, I skip a lot, and will be skipping a lot, but here is Snowden's opinion on who elected him to do what he did:
Dianne Feinstein elected me when she asked softball questions” in committee hearings, he said. “Mike Rogers elected me when he kept these programs hidden. . . . The FISA court elected me when they decided to legislate from the bench on things that were far beyond the mandate of what that court was ever intended to do. The system failed comprehensively, and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility.”
I agree, and I agree especially with the last statement - which means, in my opinion, that "the system" is corrupt, rotten, and is run by a large majority of precisely those who should not run it, which indeed include such fine forthright honest persons as Feinstein, Rogers, Alexander and Clapper.

Snowden also said:

“I said to you the only fear [left] is apathy — that people won’t care, that they won’t want change,” he recalled this month.
I think that is still relevant; I also still think that very many people are far more apathetic than they should be; and I am still frightened by it. For more, see my
piece of January 2, 2013: Crisis: Why are so many so apathetic?

Here is an opinion of the NSA - from 2001 - about the NSA that I agree with (more than not):
In the view of the NSA, signals intelligence, or electronic eavesdropping, was a matter of life and death, “without which America would cease to exist as we know it,” according to an internal presentation in the first week of October 2001 as the agency ramped up its response to the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
That is, what I agree with is that the activities of the NSA have made the USA to cease to exist as I knew it, and I find that very frightening. Indeed, to return to Snowden:
Snowden said, “What the government wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”
Yes indeed. And this should only be allowed to God, if he exists, as I do not think, and the NSA isn't God at all, although they very much want to be: They are extremely fallible, very dishonest persons, who cannot possibly be rationally trusted with all the knowledge they have of everyone's computer activities and phone-calls, for indeed no one can be trusted with such knowledge.

Here is the last line of the interview:

“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”

Indeed, that makes sense: The government - all American governments since 9/11/2001 - work against the public, and have, for the first time in human history, the chance to know almost everything about everybody, which enormous corrupt potential they seized quite willingly, even though they should know - and no doubt most do know - that no one can be trusted with that knowledge.

2. Edward Snowden: ‘I already won’ 

Next, an article by Bridle Jabour in the Guardian, that is in fact about the article I treated in the first item:

This starts as follows:

The whistleblower Edward Snowden has declared “mission accomplished”, seven months after revelations were first published from his mass leak of National Security Agency documents.

The documents, which were passed to the Guardian, as well the Washington Post and other publications, revealed how technological developments were used by the US surveillance agency to spy on its own citizens and others abroad, and also to spy on allies, such as the US on Germany and Australia on Indonesia.

In 14 hours of interviews  with Washington Post journalist Barton Gellman, Snowden said: “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished.”

He continued: “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.

There is considerably more, that you can check out for yourself, but I merely remark that Edward Snowden indeed seems to be a very private person (which is quite OK with me: so am I).

3.  Snowden Slams NSA Review as 'Cosmetic'

Next, an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
The recommendations set forth by an internal government NSA review panel are nothing but "cosmetic changes" staged to "restore public confidence" in the U.S. government's spying activities, charged NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in an email exchange with Brazil's O Globo news station.
Yes indeed - as I reported on December 19, 2013 (with my initials added):
MM: I fear this report is mostly bullshit, that will only be used to legitimate cosmetic changes.
Snowden is als reported as saying

"Their job wasn't to protect privacy or deter abuses, it was to restore public confidence in these spying activities. Many of the recommendations they made are cosmetic changes," said Snowden.

"The biggest offense one could commit in the U.S. isn't to damage the government, but rather to embarrass it," he continued. "It's clear that I could not possibly get a fair trial in my country."

I quite agree with the first paragraph.

As to the second: I suppose that for the US government to be embarrassed = to be damaged, and indeed also that some embarassments, such as being shown to be the thieves of everyone's personal data, without there ever having been any public debate on the legalities involved, count as very major damage.

And I quite agree Snowden "
could not possibly get a fair trial" in the present US.
4. A History of False Fear

Finally, an article by Joe Lauria on Consortium News:
This starts as follows:

Despite the deep embarrassment and outrage caused by continuing revelations of the National Security Agency’s abuse of power, meaningful reform is unlikely because at heart the Edward Snowden story is about money – and political power. And Snowden has threatened both.

President Obama is considering adopting some NSA reforms recommended by a White House panel. But don’t bet on him going too far.

It is also said:
False fear is what the entire operation is built on. If the disturbing NSA programs are ultimately judged unjustified and unconstitutional and have to be shut down or curtailed, billions of dollars in contracts and careers would be at stake. And that’s why the government will continue to exaggerate the terrorism threat while pursuing Snowden.

It is the government’s last line of defense: that the NSA must do these things to protect the American people from what is really a minimal threat. “National security” is the justification to collect every American’s phone records, emails and Internet traffic and millions of other people’s around the globe.

I agree false fear - that is: fear that is based on false ideas, that in politics and religion are usually consciously created, usually to make people fear things - is a major part of the operation, but I doubt it is only about money, though that too is a major motive.

I think - as indeed does Joe Lauria - it is also about power, for the having of everyone's computer records, emails, and phone calls gives those who have these more power than any government has ever had, and indeed far more.

As to the minimal threat: I quite agree, and the article gives useful numbers, and also states, as I did in 2005, that "Al Qaeda" has no territory, no atomic weapons and no large standing trained armies - which is why the chance of an American citizen becoming their victim is 14 times smaller at present than is the chance of his dying by fireworks (which is 1 in 652,046),

In any case, this is a good article, that I recommend you read all of.

5. Personal

There will be a crisis item tomorrow (unless I get very ill), but in it I probably will not quote and discuss others, but instead will quote and discuss my own ideas of precisely one year ago - that I fear have been more abundantly confirmed than almost any sociological or political hypotheses, indeed mostly because of Edward Snowden's revelations.

Also, while it is nice to be confirmed by the facts, it would have been a lot more pleasant if I had not been confirmed. More tomorrow.


[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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