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."
Doesn't Deny It Might Be Spying on Congress
Admits to Spying On Congress
breeds conformity”: Salon’s Glenn
4. Pauley vs. Leon
5. Born to Buy?
6. The Year of the Great
This is again another crisis file. It is from the first Sunday of 2014.
There are two reactions to the NSA's "reply" to Senator Sanders's
letter I treated yesterday; an interview with Greenwald, also with a
link to another interview; a consideration of the law in the US; an
essay on what advertisements have made of ordinary people; and an essay
of Robert Reich on the Great Redistribution of wealth that took place
in 2013: Upwards - more money for the rich, less money for the rest.
NSA Doesn't Deny It Might Be Spying on Congress
To start with,
the first of two reactions to the NSA's "preliminary response" to
Senator Bernie Sanders letter, that I reported on yesterday. This first
reaction is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
Actually, I think this is
a bit too careful, given that one knows the leaders of the NSA
are liars and given that it is now known that their aim is to
collect all the information they can
technically collect, and given that this includes tapping the phone of
Chancellor Merkel, for which reasons there also is a second reaction in
the next item.
But the present item starts as follows:
Security Agency on Saturday did not deny that it may be spying on
members of Congress, and said they "have the same privacy protections
as all US persons."
As usual with the NSA,
this is not a reply to the question that Senator Sanders asked,
which was as follows:
The NSA issued the statement
in response to a letter sent by Senator Bernie Sanders demanding to
know if the agency has spied on elected officials.
Clearly, the question
Sanders asked can be answered with a simple yes or a simple no.
But much rather than simply replying yes or no, general Alexander or
his minions delivered more spin and more lies, for they answered as
"I am writing today to
ask you one very simple question," the Independent Vermont senator wrote in his
letter to NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander sent Friday. "Has the NSA
spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other
American elected officials?"
"'Spying' would include
gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones,
content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other
data from a third party not made available to the general public in the
regular course of business," Sanders specified.
to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect
the privacy of US persons. Such protections are built into and cut
across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy
protections as all US persons. NSA is fully committed to transparency
with Congress. Our interaction with Congress has been extensive both
before and since the media disclosures began last June."
Firstly, the NSA has no legal
authority to do illegal things. Secondly, the NSA collectioning of
"data" is the complete opposite of trying to "protect the privacy of US persons". Thirdly, all the evidence I have seen over
the last half year shows that "Such
protections are built into and cut across the entire process" is a plain lie: The NSA does
everything it can do to steal everyone's data of any electronic kind.
However, the fourth statement that "Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all
US persons" probably is honest,
and amounts to this: The data of the members of Congress are stolen
just like everyone's data are stolen. Fifthly, the statement that
the "NSA is fully committed to
transparency with Congress" is an
obvious total lie, given what I have learned the last half
year, as is the last quoted statement.
Note that the fact that the data of the members of Congress are stolen
just like everyone's data, means that the members of Congress thereby
are open to many kinds of blackmail or pressure, depending on whatever
they did that they rather kept private.
Here is the second reaction:
2. NSA Admits to Spying On Congress
Next, a reaction to the same
news by Washington's Blog:
I think that is fair, though the full internet title
has "pretty much" before "admits". But in any case, here is
Washington's Blog's reaction to the same quotation of the NSA as given
in the previous item:
In other words:
yes, we spy on members of Congress, just like all other Americans.
Quite so. I skip the answer that Washington's Blog
provides in case they had denied it, and instead quote, from the same
article, the Washington Post:
The Washington Post writes:
The answer is telling.
We already know that the NSA collects records on virtually every phone
call made in the United States. That program was renewed for the 36th
time on Friday. If members of Congress are treated no differently than
other Americans, then the NSA likely keeps tabs on every call they make
It’s a relief to know
that Congress doesn’t get a special carve-out (they’re just like us!).
But the egalitarianism of it all will likely be of little comfort to
Finally, here is the last line of Washington's Blog:
reality, there is quite a bit of evidence that NSA is using information
gained through spying to blackmail
I agree (and you can follow the last link) - and indeed
suggest it would be very strange if the NSA did not. This is
also one of my reasons not to be very confident that they will
be effectively reined in by Congress.
3. “Surveillance breeds conformity”:
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald
Next, an article by Natasha
Lenard on Salon, which seems a decent interview with Glenn Greenwald:
This starts as follows:
I will not copy much, but like
to comment on this bit:
Longtime Salon readers
will have known for some years that Glenn Greenwald is an
unapologetically opinionated journalist with an unwavering skepticism
about corporate-government power. In 2013, the rest of the world
learned the same. It was an intense, banner year for Greenwald, who has
played a principal role in releasing startling revelations about the
National Security Agency through Edward Snowden’s leaks.
Without Greenwald’s work
with Snowden (and fellow journalists like Laura Poitras), it’s safe to
say we would be considerably less informed about the sprawling,
totalized surveillance state in which we live. For this service,
Greenwald now fears returning to the U.S. from his home in Brazil
(although he plans to do so in 2014); his partner, David Miranda, was
detained for nine hours in a London airport for the crime of carrying
journalistic materials; and his source, Snowden, faces Espionage Act
charges. Truly, Greenwald stands on the front lines of the U.S.
government’s war on information.
of power aren’t subverted and undermined radically in less than six
months. National security state — power centers that have reigned for
many years without challenge — don’t collapse in less than six months.
So I think it’s important
not to look for unrealistic metrics in determining whether or not a
story has had an impact or is successful. Always the prelude to any
kind of meaningful change is people first becoming aware or what is
taking place, and then persuading each other that they ought to take it
seriously enough to respond.
That is true, but even so, while I think that there have
been many reactions to Snowden's revelations, I also believe that the
chances to defeat the NSA are at best even.
Next, Glenn Greenwald also
answers a question about the importance of privacy, which is good, and
which ends like this:
And you lose a huge part
of your individual freedom when you lose your private realm.
Politically that is why tyranny loves surveillance, because it breeds
conformity. It means people will only do that which they want other
people to know they’re doing — in other words, nothing that is deviant
or dissenting or disruptive. It breeds orthodoxy.
However, he misses another
aspect of the loss of privacy: This creates an enormous
difference between common people, who are all surveilled, and
the extraordinary people who do the surveilling, and who can
know almost everything about almost everyone, in secret and completely
Given what the NSA knows,
and indeed what other secret services know, which is basically
everything there is to know, this difference will be much
larger than the difference between prisoners and their guards.
Anyway - there is a lot
more in the interview, and there also is another interview with
Greenwald, from the beginning of December, here:
4. Pauley vs. Leon
Next, an article by
Christopher Brauchli on Common Dreams, who considers the two opposing
This has the merit of starting
with an Orwell quotation, that well may soon be true:
If you want a
picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever.
My reason to think so is
that all power
gets abused, and the more so, the greater the power, and the fewer the
effective counter-powers or opponents. And the information the NSA is
collecting on everyone, will make it by far the most
powerful institution there ever has been.
— George Orwell, 1984
But to the article. This is a decent undermining of Judge Pauley's
judgment, that ended thus:
concludes: “No doubt, the bulk telephony metadata collection program
vacuums up information about virtually every telephone call to, from,
or within the United States. That is by design, as it allows the N.S.A.
to detect relationships so attenuated and ephemeral they would
otherwise escape notice. As the September 11th attacks demonstrate, the
cost of missing such a thread can be horrific. . . . ”
I do not know whether
Pauley knows this, but he functions as a very willing follower of
And it works
also in the United States, in the minds of some judges and some
senators, like Feinstein.
5. Born to Buy?
Next, an article by
Anja Lyngbaek on Common Dreams:
This discusses the following
theme - which is in fact one of the most important in Europe and the US:
As in so many
other areas of our lives, we have been sold on the idea that
satisfaction, even happiness, comes through purchase.
Anja Lyngbaek's grandmother
may be of my generation, or may be a little older. In any case, my
background is a poor one, though not quite as poor as her grandmother,
and I saw the rise of advertisements in the Sixties and Seventies, and
recognized it then - even at age 10, when a schoolfriend and I
discussed the ethics of advertising strong alcohol, which we considered
immoral - for being nothing but lies and propaganda aka
relations, which you find explained, and defended, in the book Propaganda, that
is also on my site.
Two generations back, my
Norwegian grandmother was overjoyed as a child when receiving one
modest gift and tasting an imported orange for Christmas. Today, in a
time dominated by long-distance trade and excess consumption, nobody
gets even mildly excited by tasting a foreign fruit or receiving a
small gift. Instead, adults dive into a cornucopia of food, typically
followed by dieting, whilst children expect numerous expensive gifts,
with electronic toys, games, gadgets and designer clothes topping the
Anja Lyngbaek notices this:
Which is completely insane, in
my opinion, and strongly supports my notion that ordinary people read
these days far more advertisements than any other literature.
Whereas I have no doubt
that consumerism does create greed – greed for the latest model of
computers, mobile phone, clothes or cars – it has nothing to do with
human nature, but all to do with artificially-induced behavior. Our
world-spanning corporate-controlled economy, is hatching consumers like
never before. From early childhood our eyes, ears and minds are flooded
with images and messages that seeks to undermine our identity, culture
and self-esteem, creating false needs and teaching us to seek
satisfaction and approval through consumption of industrial and
No people have been more
exposed to this onslaught than the US citizen. According to the
American Academy of Pediatrics, the average young person in the US
views more than 3,000 ads per day on television,
the internet, billboards and in magazines.
Anja Lyngbaek also
tells how her son got corrupted very soon when living a year in
Denmark, mostly by peer pressure, which again was mostly the product of
This is a good piece, but I do not see how the very excessive
economical propaganda that moves nearly all ordinary people in the West
- whatever their faith or political opinions - can be stopped, other
than by a collapse of the whole social system or by a rise in
intelligence of some 30 IQ points at least. And the last possibility is mere science fiction at present.
The Year of the
article by Robert Reich from his site:
Basically, this is about
two things: That "redistribution" has been made into an evil word, by
Fox News etc., and that in fact a gigantic redistribution has taken
place in 2013, and indeed through most of the years of the crisis, all
in favour of the few rich, at the cost of the many poor.
Here is a small part from the middle of the article:
In the 1950s, over
a third of private-sector workers were members of labor unions. Now,
fewer than 7 percent are unionized.
Yes, indeed - and this
also supports my continuing to speak of a crisis: I am talking
of everyone, and not just the rich few, and as long as the rich
get richer while the many get poorer, it will be a time of crisis,
whatever the stock markets say.
All this [there is more that
I did not quote - MM] helps explain why corporate profits have been
increasing throughout this recovery (they grew over 18 percent in 2013
alone) while wages have been dropping. Corporate earnings now represent
share of the gross domestic product — and wages the smallest
share of GDP — than at any time since records have been kept.
Hence, the Great
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
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.)
(that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: