This is another crisis file, with nine items, that also are all about
the crisis. Also, there was an earlier file
today, in Dutch, which is the next part of my autobiography, that
deals with 1975, that I spent in Dovre.
And I should think I am a bit better now, seeing how much I write, than
been the last 1 1/2 years, though I am not yet back to April of
that was quite good, and was just before I developed a sudden and
serious case of keratoconjunctivitis
sicca. That is not over yet, but it is significantly less (though I
still need an adjusted computer, and still need to drip my eyes, and
this may remain so).
Anyway...on to the nine
Rusbridger: Westminster is hoping Snowden revelations
To start with, an
article by Nick Hopkins in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Yes. There also two other
factors: First, Labour certainly changed a lot under Tony
was mostly destroyed by him: there are now few genuine Labour
most Labour politicians are mostly exchangeable with most Conservative
politicians, that is, apart from the tendency each party has to have
toe the party line. Second, there are few politicians - many of whom
are in their sixties or seventies - who really understand what
on (that is, unless most think ordinary folks are expandable second
classs items anyway).
Britain's political class
has been closing its eyes and hoping the revelations from Edward Snowden go
away rather than tackle important issues over mass surveillance that
have provoked such heated debate in America, the editor in chief of the Guardian has said.
accused Westminster of "complacency" about the revelations from
Snowden, which have been published in the Guardian over the past six months.
Speaking to the BBC hours
before the US president, Barack Obama, was due to give details about
reforms to the US spy headquarters, the National Security Agency (NSA), Rusbridger said: "I
think one of the problems is that both of the main political parties
feel compromised about this. Labour is not keen to get involved because
a lot of this stuff was done on their watch."
Then again, Rusbridger certainly is aware of the second factor:
There is considerably more in
on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Rusbridger said the oversight
mechanisms that were supposed to review the work of Britain's
intelligence agencies had proved to be "laughable". He said the
parliamentary intelligence and security committee, even with the extra
money it had received recently, was not up to the job. "I just don't
think they have the technical expertise or the resources," he said.
Rusbridger added: "What
is unprecedented in the last 15 years is the advance of technology. It
is completely different from anything that has existed in humankind
2. NSA collects millions of text messages
'untargeted' global sweep
Next, a rather long and
thorough article by James Ball,
in the Guardian:
This starts as
follows, with my bolding added:
The National Security
Agency has collected almost 200 million text messages a day
from across the globe, using them to extract data including location,
contact networks and credit card details, according to top-secret
The untargeted collection
and storage of SMS messages – including their contacts – is revealed in
a joint investigation between the Guardian and the UK’s Channel 4 News
based on material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The documents also reveal
the UK spy agency GCHQ has made use of the NSA database to search the
metadata of “untargeted and unwarranted” communications belonging to
people in the UK.
The NSA program,
codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can”, according
to GCHQ documents, rather than merely storing the communications of
existing surveillance targets.
Note first that this strongly
supports my contention that the NSA and
GCHQ, and also most of
the other secret services, collect all the data they can get in
to prepare and create a police state, where all opposition to any
government can be stopped, and almost no one is willing or capable
thinking an original thought - and if you think this is exagerrated,
you simply know very little about human history, and are far to
trusting of "our leaders". (And you should read item 6.)
Indeed, the above
quotation continues thus:
The NSA has made
extensive use of its vast text message database to extract information
on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial transactions and
more – including of individuals under no suspicion of illegal activity.
Clearly, (1) if hundreds
of millions of messages a day are
collected, hardly any of
these messages is by any terrorist, felon, or criminal, so (2) why
would the NSA want "to
extract information on people’s travel plans, contact books, financial
transactions and more", if
(3) it is not out for total control of everyone?!
Note also this is a
long piece, with a lot of information. Here is some more that strongly
suggests what I just said is true - and again I added the boldings:
On average, each day
the NSA was able to extract:
• More than 5 million
missed-call alerts, for use in contact-chaining analysis (working
out someone’s social network from who they contact and when)
• Details of 1.6
million border crossings a day, from network roaming alerts
• More than 110,000
names, from electronic business cards, which also included the
ability to extract and save images.
• Over 800,000
financial transactions, either through text-to-text payments or
linking credit cards to phone users
The agency was also able to
extract geolocation data from more than 76,000 text messages a
day, including from “requests by people for route info” and “setting up
Note also that none of this
would be known without Edward Snowden (that more or less explains the
extreme anger about him in the leaders of the NSA).
There is a lot more
in the article, which you can read for yourself. I want to add one more
thing, in summary:
All officials from
the GCHQ and from the Conservative Party
insist that they have nothing to say about the GCHQ, except that it is
all totally legal what they do, but they have no evidence whatsoever,
"because of privacy".
brief, just like Obama: "Trust us!".
3. Will Obama’s Speech Mention That the NSA
Collects Billions of Text Messages?
Next, an article in the Earth
To The Ground section on Truthdig:
This is a good
question (that I much doubt will be mentioned, if only because the
implication is either hundreds of millions of Americans are terrorists,
or else Obama does the best he can to institute a police state - and
see item 6), and the article starts thus:
The National Security
Agency has been collecting nearly 200 million text messages a day,
according to a report in the Guardian. They use the text messages to extract
all kinds of data including location, contact networks and credit card
information according to leaked top-secret documents by whistleblower
Edward Snowden. This collection has also been used by British spy
agency GCHQ to search the metadata of people in the U.K. even if they
are “untargeted and unwarranted.” According to the report, GCHQ’s
program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can.”
This is in stark opposition of previous claims that collections were
limited to communications of surveillance targets. According to this Guardian
report, the NSA has used the information to extract precise and wide
sweeping information of individuals who are under no suspicion of
The rest contains a
point-by-point sum-up and a link to the article in item
4. NSA: six out of 10 Americans want reform
collection, says poll
Next, an article by Spencer
Ackerman in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Fears are growing among
civil libertarians that Barack Obama will allow the National Security
Agency to retain its bulk databases of US phone call information,
despite new polling that indicates substantial public appetite for
restricting the spy agency’s powers.
A poll by the Anzalone
Liszt Grove Research firm, released Thursday, finds 59% of Americans
oppose keeping the NSA’s widespread collection of data unchanged.
Twenty-six percent of respondents “strongly” oppose keeping NSA current
surveillance in place.
A majority of
respondents, 57%, say they have “not much” confidence in the
government’s ability to prevent abuse of the NSA’s troves of US phone
records. Similarly, 58% doubt that the government can keep the data
safe from hackers.
I agree with the fears the
quotation starts with, but am somewhat pleasantly surprised by the
numbers of the poll, that are considerably better - from my point of
view - than earlier polls.
There is also this, that
goes beyond Obama's speech of today (that probably is going on as I
type this, and that I will not turn to until tomorrow, at the soonest):
But congressional critics
are already gearing up for a fight to end the bulk collection
legislatively, preparing to fight a president who had yet to clearly
indicate which side of the argument he would pick.
“The ball is in
Congress’s court. In order to fix the NSA, rein in abuse and restore
trust in the intelligence community we need a legislative solution,”
Representative James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, told the
There is rather a lot more
that you can check out, but I do want to quote the ending:
Amash [an opponent, who
almost succeeded some months ago - MM] said he hoped Obama “will work
with us constructively,” but signaled that a legislative battle may be
the ultimate resolution of the post-Snowden debate after Obama makes
his speech on Friday at the Justice Department.
"Congress must protect
Americans' privacy regardless of what the President does,” Amash said.
Yes. Though whether
it will? But yes, this is the best chance of stopping the NSA, simply
because this will be done, if it will be done, by law. But
there is a chance for this, because both Republicans and Democrats are
opposed to the NSA, and rightly so.
5. The Special Ops Surge In 134 Countries
Next, an article by Nick
Turse, that originated on TomDispatch:
This starts as follows:
They operate in the green
glow of night vision in Southwest Asia and stalk through the jungles of
South America. They snatch
men from their homes in the Maghreb
it out with heavily armed militants in the Horn of Africa.
They feel the salty spray while skimming over the tops of waves from
the turquoise Caribbean to the deep blue Pacific. They conduct
missions in the oppressive heat of Middle Eastern deserts and the deep
freeze of Scandinavia. All over the planet, the Obama
administration is waging
a secret war whose full extent has never been fully revealed—until
Since September 11, 2001,
U.S. Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way,
from their numbers to their budget. Most telling, however, has
been the exponential rise in special ops deployments globally.
This presence—now, in nearly 70% of the world’s nations—provides new
evidence of the size and scope of a secret war being waged from Latin
America to the backlands of Afghanistan, from training missions with
African allies to information operations launched in cyberspace.
In the waning days of the
Bush presidency, Special Operations forces were reportedly deployed
in about 60 countries around the world. By 2010, that number had
swelled to 75, according
to Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post.
In 2011, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch
that the total would reach 120. Today, that figure has risen
There is a lot more, which
you can read by yourself - and you should not forget to ask
yourself: Is president Obama really a progressive, who really
wanted "Change!", which he assured everyone "Yes, we can!"?!
Judges Square Off over NSA Spying
Next, an article by
Cohn, who is a professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law -
This starts as follows:
Edward Snowden, who
worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order
of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that requires
Verizon to produce on an “ongoing daily basis … all call detail records
or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i)
between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United
States, including local telephone calls.”
The government has
admitted it collects metadata for all of our telephone communications,
but says the data collected does not include the content of the calls.
In response to lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the
program, two federal judges issued dueling opinions about whether it
violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on
unreasonable searches and seizures.
After this, she fairly
carefully analyses the opinions of judges Leon (mostly anti NSA) and
Pauley (mostly pro NSA), which I leave to you. But I do want to
the ending, because it seems to me both valid and interesting from a US
profesor of law:
In my view, Leon’s
decision is the better-reasoned opinion.
This Fourth Amendment
issue is headed to the Court of Appeals. From there, it will likely go
the Supreme Court. The high court checked and balanced President George
W. Bush when he overstepped his legal authority by establishing
military commissions that violated due process, and attempted to deny
constitutional habeas corpus to Guantanamo detainees.
It remains to be seen
whether the court will likewise refuse to cower before President Barack
Obama’s claim of unfettered executive authority to conduct dragnet
surveillance. If the court allows the NSA to continue its metadata
collection, we will reside in what can only be characterized as a
7. Critics Ready "Failing" Grade for
Obama's NSA Reforms
Next, an article by Jon
Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
There is rather a lot more,
that you can check out yourself, but I do want to include the
scorecard, about which it is said, among other things:
Ahead of a speech
announcing his ideas for reforming the National Security Agency and its
mass surveillance programs exposed over the last eight months, worries
are pitched that President Obama will not go nearly far enough in his
proposals to rein in the agency.
Here it is:
As part of their effort
to hold Obama accountable and articulate their critique of NSA
overreach, the online privacy and digital rights groups Electronic
Frontier Foundation has created a "NSA Reform Scorecard" that presents
a list of "common-sense fixes that the President could—and
should—announce" during Friday's briefing.
According to EFF's Cindy
Cohn and Rainey Reitman, many of the measures contained in the
'scorecard' are similar to those "proposed by the president’s own Review
Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, which
produced a report with 46 recommendations for Obama in December.
My guess? No
on all, but I would love to be mistaken.
8. Obama's NSA Reforms Are Going to Tick
Next, an article by Dana
Liebelson, on Mother Jones, that is concerned with the same theme as
the previous item:
She takes the somewhat
different road that explains that whatever Obama does, he will be
opposed by some, and lists some of these, in various cases.
This is true, and it is
also true that in an earlier article she concluded, correctly in my
view, that (and I give the title and the link):
9. Four Questionable Claims Obama Has Made
on NSA Surveillance
Finally for today, an
article by Kara Brandeisky on ProPublica:
This starts as follows:
Today President Obama
plans to announce some reportedly
limited reforms to National Security Agency surveillance programs.
first disclosures based on documents provided by former NSA contractor
Snowden, Obama has offered his own defenses of the programs. But not
all of the
president’s claims have stood up to scrutiny. Here are some of the
assertions he has made.
I quite agree, and think it is a good idea that
someone gives a resume. So I will continue with quoting the "mistakes"
Obama has made, but will not quote the text. Here they are:
1. There have
been no abuses.
At least 50 terrorist threats have been averted.
3. The NSA
does not do any domestic spying.
4. Snowden failed to take
advantage of whistleblower protections.
that Kara Bradeisky gives the details, chapter and verse, of what Obama
really said, and explains clearly why these things are not so.
was it for today, which is again 50 Kb of text. More tomorrow, when I
hope to have read or heard Obama's speech.