"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
| "Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. Edward Snowden, after
months of NSA revelations, says
2. Edward Snowden: ‘I
3. Snowden Slams NSA Review as 'Cosmetic'
4. A History of False Fear
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):
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).
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.
To begin with, here is Snowden's own estimate of what he has achieved:
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".
“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.”
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:
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:
“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:
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
“If I defected at all,”
Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”
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
The whistleblower Edward Snowden
has declared “mission accomplished”, seven months after revelations
were first published from his mass leak of National Security Agency
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
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'
an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
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
Snowden is als reported as
I quite agree with the first
"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
"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."
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.
A History of False Fear
an article by Joe Lauria on Consortium News:
This starts as follows:
It is also said:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
 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.)
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.