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."
Preference for Metadata
Can’t Opt Out: 10 NSA Myths Debunked
3. Only a FOOL Still
Believes the NSA
This is an ordinary brief crisis
file with 3 items and a brief personal section.
But I first should say that I have earlier today uploaded a new version
of yesterday's file, that came about
after I added some 10 Kb to it,
mostly in notes and links.
To clarify this: in fact, I do not think stories about myself
are popular, but I did write all of the 500 MB website you find this on - some
average to fat Penguin books, if printed: Aristotle's Ethics,
for example, is almostn 700 Kb) - by myself, that is to say, except
classical philosophical texts that I quote and extensively and
critically comment (see here), except
for some medical reports on my disease (see here - and yes,
I've still not updated this: I'm ill), and except
for two bits my father wrote, and all
was done while I was quite ill and got no
also I still have to beware the Dutch law, the Dutch politicians,
their eager helpmeets, the Dutch bureaucrats
(most of who earn at least
8 to 10 times what I get).
But OK... I wrote about half of it, say (in fact I don't know, also
because a not inconsiderable part of the site is html-formatting tags),
including over 3000 daily columns you find indexed in Nederlog, and that is still more than anyone I
know of (though the internet is large, and there is bound to be someone
who wrote more than I did, in the same or less time).
Anyway - it seems some interest in me is justified, and there is some
more text about me in the Personal bit below,
though that too is not much.
Now to today's crisis items, that are all about the NSA.
Preference for Metadata
To start with, an
article by Kirk
Wiebe (<- Wikipedia: the link is to the article on William
Binney, in which he is mentioned), who is one of the original
whistleblowers on the NSA:
This starts as follows -
and I quote the introduction:
And this is what meta-data can
reveal about you (whoever you are, and whoever may be the secretive men
and women who use it, for whatever government there may be, with
whatever priorities and morality):
The hidden ball in the
debate over the NSA’s collection of phone and e-mail metadata (vs.
tapping into actual conversations with a court order) is that the NSA
actually prefers the metadata approach because it strips away privacy
more efficiently, says ex-NSA analyst
collection can answer all but one of the five “W’s” of journalism: the
Who, What, Where and When. Given time, it can even respond to
“Why” someone interfaces with digital information systems the way they
do. It can do this because it is possible to discern patterns of
behavior in metadata.
Which is to say:
metadata can answer all questions about you, as also gets
illustrated by examples Wiebe gives.
He also discusses the damage Snowden has done to the NSA, which he
estimates as "minimal" - and he also warns against believing the
standard claims (in part described as "stall tactic") and recommends
being "skeptical" about anything the government says (in the context of
discussing the NSA).
2. You Can’t Opt Out: 10 NSA Myths Debunked
Next, a fairly long article by Peter
van Buren (<- Wikipedia), that originally appeared on
tomdispatch, but that I
found (without Tom Steinhardt's introduction, but with a link to it) on
Since this is a fairly long
article, what I will do is list the myths: You can check out the link
for the texts (note there are four pages on Truthdig) - and please also
that the 10 points are myths, according to Peter van Buren, who
shows why in his text, and the following is copied as given, including
surveillance is legal.
2) If I’ve done
nothing wrong, I have nothing to hide. So why should I care about any
3) But the
media says the NSA only collects my “phone metadata,” so I’m safe.
4) Aren’t there
are already checks and balances in our system to protect us against NSA
5) But I trust
Obama (Bush, the next president) on this.
6) But don’t
private companies like Facebook already have access to and share a lot
of my personal
data? So what’s wrong with the government having it,
7) All this
surveillance is distasteful and maybe even illegal, but isn’t it
necessary to keep us safe? Isn’t it for our own good? Haven’t times
changed and shouldn’t we acknowledge that?
are everywhere and dangerous.
9) We’ve stayed safe.
Doesn’t that just prove all the government efforts have worked?
10) But doesn’t
protecting America come first—before anything?
This is again an
article you should read all of: He has good answers to each of
a FOOL Still Believes the NSA
Next, an article by
Washington's Blog, that seems quite relevant:
Most of this consists
of points with links, so I only quote a brief piece of text from it -
and the links are in the original:
Indeed, the NSA itself
no longer claims that its mass spying program has stopped terror
attacks or saved lives. Instead, intelligence spokesmen themselves now
claim that mass spying is just an “insurance
policy” to give “peace of mind”.
But given that mass
surveillance by governments on their own people have always
been used – for at least 500 years – to crush dissent, that the NSA
has a long
history of spying on Congress for political purposes, and that
high-level NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA is using spying to blackmail
politicians and social critics and to prosecute
people the government dislikes, the question is whose peace of mind
the programs preserve.
I only add that the
NSA's claims - by Keith Alexander - have been whittled down from 53 to
1 to none.
As you may have
noticed, this is not a large crisis file. There are three reasons:
First, I am tired today. Second, there wasn't much material. And third,
I am scaling down my attention to the crisis, not because it doesn't
interest me (in fact, what I know about the NSA is extremely
frightening - and I can program and have used computers daily for 27
years now), but because I got totally no support for it, from no
(so if you have mailed me since June, your mail has disappeared before
it reached me, and I am truly sorry), because it does take a
time, and because the work is too journalistic for my tastes.
Also, the last reason is not a slight on good journalism, as in fact I
mostly have reported and linked, but is a simple consequence of what I
am, which is not a journalist, but an ill - scientific,
realistic - philosopher, who has far less energy than nearly
amyone, and who is mostly in some pain, and who gets no help of any
minimal dole (which I must suppose I only get because it cannot be
denied to me, as were all the other things I asked for).
And I want to write about some other things than the crisis, also if
this does not make my site more popular, which anyway never was a
Next, about my site: It really is almost 500 MB at the moment, of which
I wrote at least half, although this also counts all html-tags,
that must count for quite a few MB, and all image-files, though these
are neither many nor large.
You should also consider that I wrote it since (late) 1996, which was
when I first got a site, and internet, which is meanwhile almost 18
years ago, which means that on average I wrote something like 10 MB a
year, at least, for my site(s).
That is at least 10 average Penguins, each year - and no, there is no
publishing in bookform for me, until I get rid of the dole (and then I
may be too old, or too ill, if I am still there, which I
intend to be as long as I can take care of myself and have the money).
Finally, I wrote so much because I always wrote extremely easily, I am
a very good and fast typist, and I can hardly do anything else. Indeed,
if I could do considerably more, I would not be
living in Holland, and I
would almost certainly write a lot less, and what I would write would
be more technical, for the most part, and less interesting for most of
my readers. So there is your gain!
Anyway... this was merely a small reflection on my site.
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.)
(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: