January 8, 2014

Crisis: NSA insiders, NSA as King George, Greenwald about 1971 break-in

   "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

Prev- crisis -Next  

NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong
2. The NSA Plays Mad King George in This Revolution
3. Glenn Greenwald: Four Points about the 1971 FBI

About ME/CFS


This is a crisis file, but although it is midweek, there wasn't much that I found: I have only three items on the crisis. But since these yielded a file of over 42 Kb, I think I have done enough for today, and all I add is that the articles and links that follow are more about the backgrounds to the crisis than the crisis itself.

1. NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong

To start with, a memo to President Obama, that I found on Common Dreams:
This starts with the following:
In a memo to President Obama, former National Security Agency insiders explain how NSA leaders botched intelligence collection and analysis before 9/11, covered up the mistakes, and violated the constitutional rights of the American people, all while wasting billions of dollars and misleading the public.
Also, I should say first who signed it: William Binney, Thomas Drake, Edward Loomis, and J. Kirk Wiebe, while there are also signatures of the VIPS (= Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) group: Ray McGovern, Elizabeth Murray, Coleen Rowley and Daniel Ellsberg (a VIPS associate).

If you check the links, you will find each and all of these men and women are American patriots. (There are no personal links for all of them on Wikipedia, but you can find some information on them in the other files linked.)

Here are a number of quotations from the memo, in the order in which they appear. Note these are all selections, and the first is this, from the beginning:

The sadder reality, Mr. President, is that NSA itself had enough information to prevent 9/11, but chose to sit on it rather than share it with the FBI or CIA. We know; we were there. We were witness to the many bureaucratic indignities that made NSA at least as culpable for pre-9/11 failures as are other U.S. intelligence agencies.
There is considerably more on this in the memo. The brief of it is that the NSA, the FBI and the CIA all had highly relevant information about 9/11 before it happened, but in each case did nothing with it. (I think that is a fact. What may be the explanation for the fact is not given in the memo. [2])

Also from the beginning:

We write you with a sense of urgency looking toward your upcoming decisions regarding the activities of the National Security Agency. We the undersigned (William Binney, Thomas Drake, Edward Loomis, and Kirk Wiebe) worked with NSA for a total of 144 years, most of them at senior levels. Our mission required the highest technical skills to keep the country safe from foreign enemies, while protecting the privacy rights of U.S. citizens under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

That is, these are not "leftist radicals": They are patriots. (This is of some importance mainly because media pundits either do not mention them, or smear them.)

Then there is this:

It is not difficult to connect NSA’s collect-everything approach with one principal finding of the Review Group you appointed to look into NSA programs; namely, that exactly zero terrorist plots have been prevented by NSA’s bulk trawling for telephone call records. One Review Group member, your former Chicago law professor colleague, Geoffrey Stone, has confessed to being “absolutely” surprised at the group’s finding of zero. Clearly, the statements of top NSA officials left Stone wholly unprepared for the truth.
Yes, indeed. However, I am not particularly surprised by that finding, in part because I believe that the real end of the NSA is not so much the finding of terrorists, though they do this as well, as the exploitation of the terrorist myth so as to be able to surveil and control all of the American people.

Then there is this:

Surely you have asked National Intelligence Director James Clapper flat-out why, in formal testimony to the Senate on March 12, 2013 he answered “No, Sir” to Senator Ron Wyden’s question, “Does the NSA collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

Surely you know that Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein persists in covering for Clapper, telling ABC three months after Clapper’s falsehood that “there is no more direct or honest person than Jim Clapper.” And now Director Clapper’s lawyer, Mr. Litt, is trying to convince readers of the New York Times that Clapper did not lie.

Actually, I much doubt whether Obama has asked Clapper why he answered "No, Sir". But then I may be more cynical about Obama than most of the people who signed the letter, or I may be less patient, in thinking that 9 months is more than enough to have started a prosecution of an evident liar.

And Mrs Feinstein I can only recommend as a good student of Goering, while Mr Litt's opinions are totally predictable from his function (he is a lawyer for the NSA).

Then there is this:

Let us be clear. Candor dictates that we state up front that the more skeptical among us suspect that you are not as isolated from the truth about NSA activities as it might seem. That notwithstanding, for purposes of this Memorandum we choose to adopt a broader view and assume you would welcome help from former insiders who chose to leave rather than become complicit in NSA abuses.
I suppose I am with "the more skeptical among us", and indeed I must be, simply because Obama has several times quite confidently pronounced on the NSA's doings, among others to Charlie Rose, and has defended them.

Also, I am rather doubtful the memo will reach Obama, though this is just my opinion. However, I am a bit disappointed that they limit themselves to this:

What we shall now attempt to explain to you is how corruption – born of lust for billions of dollars, and the power that comes with that – scotched implementation of an inexpensive and demonstrably superior in-house technical program the prototype of which was up and running before 2001. Not only did it hold considerable promise, it also honored the privacy protections guaranteed American citizens under the Fourth Amendment.
The reason I am disappointed is not because the above is false or uninmportant, for I think it is true and important, but because this is around 13 years old, and the recent news about the NSA was mostly due to Snowden's revelations.

There is also this, that also relates mostly to 9/11 or pre-9/11:

It masks the reality that, as indicated above, NSA had already collected highly significant intelligence on the hijackers themselves but did not disseminate it outside of NSA before the attacks. At best, the claim about bulk collection is one part wishful thinking and nine parts red herring.
The first statement seems to be quite true. So does the second, but the reason for that, it seems to me, is that the real reason for the bulk collection is not terrorism but (getting the tools for an effective) tyranny (as was already warned against by Senator Church).

The present leaders of the NSA seem to want a USA where everyone will be bound to support the government, whatever government that is, or risks being disappeared forever. Of course, they will not say so, but this surely is the best explanation for the things they have in fact done, that were mostly revealed by Snowden's files.

Indeed, these tendencies were there long before 9/11/2001: They go back at leasr to the 1960ies, as shown by my
Propaganda and Control: Brezezinski (<- also written before I knew about the NSA) from which I quote this bit from ... 1970:
"The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities." – Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, 1970
It seems to me we have reached that point, or have already passed it, and that includes the having of "an elite, unrestrained by traditional values", which are currently being led by Mr Obama and Mr Cameron, quite successfully also.

In any case, here is the concluding paragraph from the memo prepared for Obama:

We are in a position to know that collecting everything makes very little sense from a technical point of view. And, as citizens, we are offended by the callous disregard of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution we all swore a solemn oath to support and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Yes - but as my quote from 1970 shows, and as I have repeatedly argued in Nederlog from October 2005 (<- Dutch link) onwards, I think "collecting everything" may well have been the NSA's and many other secret security agencies main aim for five decades, which they now and since 9/11 have the technical know-how to implement, while they also have the protection from the political and judiciary branches of government.

So... while I do not think the memo is without value, my guess is that it will be neither read nor heeded by President Obama. (I should also say that I do not expect anything from him, indeed regardless of what he reads: If legal methods apply, they must come from the Senate.)

2. The NSA Plays Mad King George in This Revolution

Next, an article by Robert Scheer on Truth Dig:
This is from not far from the beginning (and I should say that, as is, the link that leads to this article seems to have a wrong name):
In every interview Snowden has relied on the simple notion that informed the founders of our nation regarding the primacy of truth in public discourse. 

His commitment to that ideal cannot be comprehended by a mass media culture of careerism informed by public relations that trivializes all differences of truth and logic into incomprehensible mulch. His is instead the simple veracity of the once honored slogan that the truth shall set us free and that it is overwhelming government power that is most threatening to that freedom.

What is at issue in the information Snowden’s courageous actions have revealed is our government’s denial of the core principles of the enlightenment: rule by, and of, an informed and thoughtful citizenry that has come to be smothered by the omnipresent corporatized national security state.

Yes, I think that is mostly correct, except that I think that many pundits of the "mass media culture of careerism informed by public relations" know very well what they are doing, which is lying on a very large scale. The reason they do it is simply that they are paid very well, and would not be paid at all if they were to speak the truth. Something similar holds for most inside the government: If they are not paid millions now, they will be paid millions as soon as they move through "the revolving door".

Then again, this led to the following:

We learned, again thanks to Snowden, that there are no rights of the individual that are any longer inviolate, and the very notion of the sovereignty of the individual, in his or her home or minds, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, is now a fiction.
And that seems to me to be correct, although, at least for the present, the NSA does not (yet) seem to have sufficient manpower to look through all or most of the data.

But that is - merely - the present.

3.  Glenn Greenwald: Four Points about the 1971 FBI Break-In

Finally on the short list of crisis files I found today, an article by Glenn Greenwald, that has the following title (minus his name):

This indeed is about a 1971 FBI break-in, that many readers may want to know a little more about. Well, there is a Wikipedia article on it:
The last link shows that "The documents revealed the COINTELPRO and led to the Church Committee and the cessation of this operation by the FBI".

As to COINTELPRO, here are the first two paragraphs of the Wikipedia on it, minus the notes:

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.National Security Agency operation Project MINARET targeted the personal communications of leading Americans, including Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.

The FBI has used covert operations against domestic political groups since its inception; however, covert operations under the official COINTELPRO label took place between 1956 and 1971. COINTELPRO tactics are still used to this day, and have been alleged to include discrediting targets through psychological warfare; smearing individuals and groups using forged documents and by planting false reports in the media; harassment; wrongful imprisonment; and illegal violence, including assassination.
The FBI's stated motivation was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."
The main reason to quote this, apart from providing background, is that "COINTELPRO tactics are still used to this day". (In fact, the Church Committee
also is an interesting reference, but I merely mention that in passing.)

After these preparations, here is part of Glenn Greenwald's first point:
As you watch the video [supplied by the NYT, but not accessible ti me - MM], just imagine what today's American commentariat, media class, and establishment figures from both parties would be saying in denouncing these activists. They stole government documents that didn't belong to them! They endangered national security! They did not take just a few documents but everything en masse that they could get their hands on. Former FBI and CIA chief William Webster is shown in the film conceding that the documents they revealed led to important debates, but nonetheless condemning them on the grounds that they used the "wrong methods" - criminal methods! - to expose these bad acts, insisting that they should have gone through unspecified Proper Channels.

That all sounds quite familiar, does it not?
Indeed it does - and it shows a strange bivalence of values of William Webster: What is allowed to him and his folks, also if it is grossly illegal, is not allowed to others, even if those others do far less than he and his folks did.

And here is part of his second point:
The crux of COINTELPRO - targeting citizens for their disfavored political views and trying to turn them into criminals through infiltration, entrapment and the like - is alive and well today in the United States. Those tactics are no longer called COINTELPRO; they are called "anticipatory prosecutions" and FBI entrapment.
The other two points you can check out for yourself. 


[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] One explanation for 9/11 is that it was a false flag operation, which is not as such stated, but is quite implicit in
Massimo Mazzucco's 5 hours of video, that I briefly reviewed on October 21, 2013.

About ME/CFS (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:
1. Anthony Komarof

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)

       home - index - summaries - mail