This is another crisis file. It is Friday today, and I found six or
seven items, that follow below. Unless there is major crisis news,
there will be no crisis Nederlogs in the weekend, which will allow me
to write on other things, and also have some more time for myself. (See
Also, the present text is uploaded earlier than normal.
and GCHQ activities appear illegal, says EU
To start with, an
article by Nick Hopkins and David Traynor in the Guardian:
programmes used by the US and Britain to spy on people in Europe have been
condemned in the "strongest possible terms" by the first parliamentary
inquiry into the disclosures, which has demanded an end to the vast,
systematic and indiscriminate collection of personal data by
The inquiry by the
European parliament's civil liberties committee says the activities of
America's National Security Agency (NSA) and its British
counterpart, GCHQ, appear to be illegal
and that their operations have "profoundly shaken" the trust between
countries that considered themselves allies.
Yes, indeed - which
should also answer the British Tories, although in fact this is quite
unlikely: These mostly follow Goering's
Principle, which is: "scare the
common folks enough and they'll allow anything".
Also, before getting overly enthusiastic, I should note this:
The draft, still
to be voted on by the chamber, has no legal force and does not compel
further action, but adds to the growing body of criticism and outrage
at the perceived intelligence abuses.
So basically it is, at
best, advisory. All one can rejoice about is that it is fairly strong -
for which reason I think "perceived" is too careful: They - the NSA,
the GCHQ etc. - are spies;
they have no legal clearance; they break the existing
laws. (And you can't trust the government, certainly not without
In any case:
The report says
western intelligence agencies have been involved in spying on "an
unprecedented scale and in an indiscriminate and non-suspicion-based
manner". It is "very doubtful" that the collection of so much
information is only guided by the fight against terrorism, the draft
says, questioning the "legality, necessity and proportionality of the
Yes, I quite agree. And
as to the quite correct "It
is "very doubtful" that the collection of so much information is only
guided by the fight against terrorism": It seems obvious to me that the spying is part and
parcel of a much larger project, that is being put into practice at
least since 9/11, which is to redesign the Western democracies as
authoritarian states that are governed by the big corporations, and
for the rich few, and against the rest of the people, that can be
controlled indefinitely by spying on all their communications and
all their phone-calls.
And there is this:
The report also:
• Calls on the US
authorities and EU states to prohibit blanket mass surveillance
activities and bulk processing of personal data.
• Deplores the way
intelligence agencies "have declined to co-operate with the inquiry the
European parliament has been conducting on behalf of citizens".
• Insists mass
surveillance has potentially severe effects on the freedom of the
press, as well as a significant potential for abuse of information
gathered against political opponents.
• Demands that the UK,
Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands revise laws governing the
activities of intelligence services to ensure they are in line with the
European convention on human rights.
• Calls on the US to
revise its own laws to bring them into line with international law, so
they "recognise the privacy and other rights
of EU citizens".
This seems to me all to
be correct - but as I said before, the report is at best advisory.
Also, there is a lot I could say on these points that I will not say,
except that the Netherlands will not do anything with the
government, for that serves the NSA and the GCHQ and themselves much
2. Ron Wyden: the future of NSA programs is
Next, an article by Spencer Ackerman in the
Privacy advocates pressed
Barack Obama to end the bulk collection of Americans’ communications
data at a series of meetings at the White House on Thursday, seizing
their final chance to convince him of the need for meaningful reform of
sweeping surveillance practices.
A key US senator left one
meeting at the White House with the impression that President Obama has
yet to decide on specific reforms. “The debate is clearly fluid,”
senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a longtime critic of bulk surveillance,
told the Guardian after the meeting. “My sense is the president, and
the administration, is wrestling with these issues,” Wyden said.
I may be mistaken, and
indeed would gladly be so, but it seems to me that the main
and his administration are "wrestling
with" is the terms in
will continue the spying.
There is rather a lot
more in the article, but the best seems to be by Jim Sensenbrenner:
“All three branches of
government have said the NSA has gone too far,” Sensenbrenner said in a
Even President Obama’s
hand-picked panel agrees that bulk collection by the NSA has come at a
high cost to privacy without improving national security. This problem
cannot be solved by presidential fiat. Congress needs to pass the USA
Freedom Act, a bipartisan legislative solution closely aligned with the
suggestions by the president’s panel. Enacting this bill would protect
Americans’ civil liberties while keeping intact the tools necessary to
protect our nation.
I agree, but I am not
3. On Secrecy, Oaths, and Edward Snowden
Next, a brief piece by Daniel
Ellsberg on Common Dreams:
contrary to the
frequent assertions in the last week (including by
Fred Kaplan) that Snowden is particularly reprehensible because he
"broke his OATH of secrecy," neither Snowden nor anyone else broke such
a secrecy "oath."
I will come in a moment
to the oath Snowden did take, but I first say that I have read
the piece by Kaplan, and concluded from that he probably is a bought
pundit and certainly does not have to say anything interesting.
Here is Ellsberg on the oath Snowden did swear. First, on what
break - which was not an oath:
Such an oath
doesn't exist (look up "oath" on the web). Rather he—and I—broke an
agreement (known as Standard
Form 312) which was a condition of employment. It provides
for civil or administrative penalties (e.g., losing a clearance or a
job) for disclosing classified information: serious enough to keep
nearly everyone quiet about...anything classified, no matter how
illegal or dangerous.
Second on the oath
Snowden did swore to:
The reason this matters
is that Snowden, as he said to Gellman and as I've repeatedly said, did
take a real "oath," just one oath, the same oath that every official in
the government and every Congressperson takes as an oath of office. He
and they "swore" ("or affirmed") "to support and defend the
Constitution of the U.S., against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
They did not swear to
support and defend or obey the President, or to keep secrets. But
to support and defend, among other elements of the Constitution, the
First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments in the Bill of Rights, and
Article I, section 8, on war powers. That's the oath that, as Snowden
correctly said to Gellman, he upheld (as I would say I eventually did)
and that Clapper and Alexander broke (along with most members of
NSA Slammed, EU Panel Wants to Hear
Directly from Snowden
This has the same
subject as item 1, and I only quote the first two paragraphs:
investigative report presented to the European Parliament legislative
committee charged with investigating the scope and scale of
surveillance by the US National Security Agency and the British GCHQ
states that the activities of the controversial spy agencies were
"illegal" and have "profoundly shaken" the trust between nations on
both sides of the Atlantic.
The preliminary version, obtained
by the Guardian, shows that the final report by the Justice
and Civil Liberties Committee will not likely be friendly towards the
U.S. and U.K. governments and the findings seem to further bolster the
idea that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was justified in being
troubled by the nature of the various surveillance programs he leaked
For more, you can check
the last link. 5. Chomsky: How Can We Escape the Curse of
Exploitation? Next, an article by Noam Chomsky that I found on Alternet:
Humans are social beings, and the kind of
creature that a person becomes depends crucially on the social,
cultural and institutional circumstances of his life.
We are therefore led to
inquire into the social arrangements that are conducive to people's
rights and welfare, and to fulfilling their just aspirations - in
brief, the common good.
For perspective I'd like
to invoke what seem to me virtual truisms. They relate to an
interesting category of ethical principles: those that are not only
universal, in that they are virtually always professed, but also doubly
universal, in that at the same time they are almost universally
rejected in practice.
These range from very
general principles, such as the truism that we should apply to
ourselves the same standards we do to others (if not harsher ones), to
more specific doctrines, such as a dedication to promoting democracy
and human rights, which is proclaimed almost universally, even by the
worst monsters - though the actual record is grim, across the spectrum.
Yes, indeed: It is quite true that
many norms, indeed the most popular ones, are both universally
professed and also universally rejected, in practice, and
especially by the politicians who use the norms to get elected, and
their being elected to act against the norms - as happened e.g. to
Obama (quite intentionally, it seems to me).
Next, as to the question in the title of the article, Chomsky believes
Rocker was outlining an
anarchist tradition culminating in anarcho-syndicalism - in European
terms, a variety of "libertarian socialism."
This brand of socialism,
he held, doesn't depict "a fixed, self-enclosed social system" with a
definite answer to all the multifarious questions and problems of human
life, but rather a trend in human development that strives to attain
So understood, anarchism
is part of a broader range of libertarian socialist thought and action
that includes the practical achievements of revolutionary Spain in
1936; reaches further to worker-owned enterprises spreading today in
the American rust belt, in northern Mexico, in Egypt, and many other
countries, most extensively in the Basque country in Spain; and
encompasses the many cooperative movements around the world and a good
part of feminist and civil and human rights initiatives.
This is true enough, but it is
also true that there are many anarchisms, and that none of them has
ever succeeded in being popular amongst more than a small part of the
population in any country.
And this certainly is a problem, especially in times of democracy: If
there is a sensible program and plan, that mostly can be seen to be a
sensible program and plan only by the intelligent, it will almost certainly not be
Chomsky also says:
For Rocker, "the problem
that is set for our time is that of freeing man from the curse of
economic exploitation and political and social enslavement."
It should be noted that
the American brand of libertarianism differs sharply from the
libertarian tradition, accepting and indeed advocating the
subordination of working people to the masters of the economy, and the
subjection of everyone to the restrictive discipline and destructive
features of markets.
the "libertarianism" that is preached by Ayn Rand and her followers is
totally misnamed: A better name is "egoism" - which indeed accords with
There is considerably more in the article, and much that I agree with,
but it does not answer the question in the title, except in extremely
general terms - which may be correct, and certainly are more sensible
than the dominant political tendencies, but which simply will not be
practiced, were it only because only the intelligent few are convinced,
while the less intelligent many are propagandized into opposing the
plans that would save them.
6. After 20 Years of NAFTA Poverty,
Lawmakers Move to
Next and final in today's crisis
reporting, an article by the Common Dreams staff, on Common Dreams:
lawmakers —House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp
(R-MI), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking
Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) — announced legislation
(pdf) Thursday that would allow the Obama administration to
fast-track approval of this behemoth trade deal.
Known as "trade promotion
authority," the legislation would allow the Obama administration to
dodge deliberation and amendments from Congress.
is also another reason to believe Obama is quite other than he presents
himself: He is supporting fascist legislation, for this is what it
evidently is. You may doubt this, but
the article continues as follows:
Whether or not the
president obtains the listed negotiating objectives, the bill would
empower the president to sign a trade pact before Congress votes on it
with a guarantee that the executive branch can write legislation to
implement the pact and alter wide swaths of existing U.S. law and
obtain both House and Senate votes within 90 days. That legislation is
not subject to markup and amendment in committee, all amendments are
forbidden during floor votes and a maximum of 20 hours of debate is
permitted in the House and Senate.
to my adjective "fascist":
“For nearly four years,
the U.S. Trade Representative and TPP negotiators have purposely
restricted participation and information, keeping members of Congress
and citizen groups, unions, environmental and consumer organizations in
the dark," said Communications Workers of America President Larry
Cohen. "There has been no opportunity for public interest groups to
meaningfully participate in the negotiations, and under fast track
authority, there will be no opportunity for our elected representatives
to amend the deal and make it better for Americans."
Said Charles Chamberlain,
Executive Director, Democracy for America, "The Trans-Pacific
Partnership would be an unmitigated disaster for everything from the
environment to internet freedom and working families."
hey! This has all been engineered, mostly in total secrecy, by those
excellent men Barack Obama, Joe Biden and John Kerry! You should Trust
Them! They mean so very well!
In any case, here is a bit about the TPP, that is copied from
This is basically "a protest
song", but there also is
given this Background.
The people who
- still - read Nederlog regularly but deplore my taking so
much time and effort to write about the NSA may rejoice because in the
weekend I will probably not write about the crisis.
My reasons are that anyway there tends to be less crisis materials in
weekends; that my writing about the crisis has not moved anyone to
write me (so, if you have, I am very sorry that your mail did not
me, which I think is more and more probable); that I have quite a few
other things I may write about; and that I also need some time to do
other things I have to do.
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.
note the whole file I
quote from is quite pertinent.)
I am not a democrat, because I think it nonsense to have the majority
of the less intelligent be manipulated into voting for the
masters that exploit them or to pronounce on things they cannot
rationally judge. See my democracy
plan and bureaucracy
plan, although it seems quite certain these need a revolution to be
(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: