February 2, 2014

Crisis: Snowden, Lavabit, Obama, jail terms, Perkins, Moyes, Orwell, psychiatry

   "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

crisis -Next  

How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to

Lawyers for Lavabit founder: judges may dismiss civil
     liberties concerns

3. Obama admits intelligence chief fault over false Senate

4. Christie, Clapper and Other Officials Who Should Be in Jail
     Instead of Snowden
Don’t Pity the Billionaire
The Horror Show of America: 'We Are Slaves to Profit,'
      the Creator of The Wire Tells Bill Moyers

7.  Beyond Orwell’s Worst Nightmare
8.  About psychiatry

About ME/CFS


It's a Sunday today, and there were quite a few files on the crisis. (So that goes to show there is no necessity about their being few on Sundays.) In fact, I found at least seven, while the eighth is a link to a good exposition of myself about the very many failings of modern psychiatry, which caused me to - very definitely - call it a pseudoscience, that should be terminated.

Also, this is uploaded some 4 or 5 hours earlier than is normal.

1. How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to whistleblower

First, an article by Luke Harding in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
In late December 2001, someone calling themselves TheTrueHOOHA had a question. He was an 18-year-old American male with impressive IT skills and a sharp intelligence. His real identity was unknown. Everyone who posted on Ars Technica, a popular technology website, did so anonymously.
In fact, it is quite a long file, that is an extract from a new book "The Snowden Files" (for 12 pounds 99, or 8,99 at the guardianbookshop). I read it all, and it seems decent, and even told me some things I didn't know.

It also seems to be the first biography of Snowden in bookform, and I do not know what Edward Snowden thinks of it.

I think it was inevitable that someone would write a book about him, and I found this well done, so far, though I am not a specialist on Snowden. There was one thing, though, that did not seem to me to be sufficiently stressed, and that thing also informed my very first post on him, of June 10, 2013: While there are, at least, several thousands placed like him, he is the only one to have acted as he did.

That seems quite relevant to me, also because I am the son and the grandson of men who were convicted to German concentration camps for being "political terrorists", which is to say that they were members of the Dutch communist resistance against Nazism, and I know since a very long time how very rare this resisting of evident Nazistic terrorism was
in Holland (that is, until the end of WW II: after the end almost every Dutchman suddenly had been a heroic resistance hero, and none had harmed the 116.000 murdered Jews) were the dregs of society - from very many professors to very many followers of Wilders - all very loudly insist that "everybody is equivalent" (that is: you, they and Einstein and Eichmann are all equivalent, at least according to the vast majority of the Dutchmen).

So no: this is a sick, degenerate lie of the many who are weak and cowardly collaborators of whatever regime they find themselves in, and again no: in fact there are far more cowards and collaborators than there are real heroes.

If it were otherwise, all of human culture and civilization would have been quite different.

2. Lawyers for Lavabit founder: judges may dismiss civil liberties concerns 

Next, an article by Dominic Rushe in the Guardian:
This starts as follows - and Lavabit (<- Wikipedia) was the e-mail service that allowed encrypted mails, that was, at one point, used by Edward Snowden - after which the NSA insisted that they should get the encryption keys to everything so that they could read everything, which the owner refused, and which made him shut down his whole service:

Civil rights lawyers expressed concern this week that judges reviewing the contempt of court case brought against Lavabit, an email service that was used by the National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, were dismissing privacy concerns raised by the case as a “red herring” that had been “blown out of proportion”.

The founder of Lavabit, Ladar Levison, is challenging a contempt of court order brought against him when he initially refused to hand over the encryption keys to his secure email service. The case is now with the fourth US circuit court of appeals in Richmond, Virginia. Judges Roger Gregory, Paul Niemeyer and Steven Agee presided over a hearing on Tuesday.

A decision is expected within 45 days. If Levison’s appeal is rejected, he will be held in contempt of court and it will be unlikely that the legal issues surrounding the case will be resolved.

It seems from the article that the case is cooked: Judges Gregory, Niemeyer and Agee speak as if they are personal friends of NSA directors, rather than as objective judges - and indeed the NSA may know very much about them that ordinary men do not and cannot know.

In any case, the judges speak as if it is self-evident to them that anyone who runs an encrypted mail-service should hand over his encryption-keys as a matter of course to the NSA or the FBI, so that they can read anything, as is the duty of every man in a police state.

I really can't make anything else from it, and you can read the article yourself.

3.  Obama admits intelligence chief fault over false Senate testimony

Next, an article by Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:

President Barack Obama has said his director of national intelligence, James Clapper, ought to have been “more careful” in Senate testimony about surveillance that Clapper later acknowledged was untruthful following disclosures by Edward Snowden.

But Obama signaled continued confidence in Clapper in the face of calls for the director to resign from members of Congress who warn of the dangerous precedent set by allowing an intelligence chief to lie to legislative bodies tasked with overseeing the powerful spy agencies.

There is rather a lot more in the article, but that is the short summary: According to Obama any director of intelligence may lie all he pleases in Congress, and the president then will save him by saying that "he could have played it better than he did".

It doesn't matter what Congress laid down about any testimony it gets - the directors of national intelligence are clearly above any law.

Christie, Clapper and Other Officials Who Should Be in Jail Instead of Snowden

an article by Juan Cole, who is a professor of history, in Truth Dig, and who is not so lenient with the truth as is Obama, when this serves Obama's interests (which are the NSA's interests):
This starts as follows:
The vindictiveness toward Edward Snowden in official Washington has nothing to do with law-breaking and everything to do with the privileges of power. The powerful in Washington may spy on us, but we are not to know about it. Snowden’s sin in their eyes was to level the playing field, to draw back the curtain and let the public see what the spies were doing to them The United States has become so corrupt that the basic principle of the law applying to all equally has long since became a quaint relic. We are back to a system of aristocratic privilege. If we had a rule of law and not of men, Edward Snowden would be given a medal and the following officials would be on the lam to avoid serious jail time.
Yes, indeed. Also, Juan Cole contends that, far more than Edward Snowden, if the USA were a real state of law, the following five would very probably be in prison: James Clapper, Keith Alexander, Chris Christie, Peter King and Richard Bruce Cheney.

He also gives arguments, and indeed I think myself that at least Clapper, Alexander and Cheney do belong behind bars
, although I do not believe this will ever happen, at least not in the current US.

5. Don’t Pity the Billionaire

Next an article by David Sirota in Truth Dig:
This starts as follows:

The rich have never been richer and the poor keep getting poorer. The financial Masters of the Universe enjoy indefinite taxpayer-funded bailouts, while the social safety net for the poor is gutted. The ruling class that engineers crushing economic inequality gathers at the World Economic Forum in Davos to pretend to care about said inequality, and then promises no concrete actions to combat the crisis. Many high-income earners pay a lower effective tax rate than low-income earners, and IRS data show that in the last few years the rich have seen a steep decline in the share of taxes they pay.

And if you think there’s a problem with any of this, you’re a Nazi. At least according to the poor, put-upon oligarchs.

It is this last fact that caused David Sirota's article, which deserves a bit more explanation, since you may have missed Tom Perkins (<- Wikipedia):

The latest fat cat to compare critiques of inequality to violent National Socialism is venture capitalist Tom Perkins—he of the $150 million yacht and the 5,500-square-foot San Francisco penthouse. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal editor, this Silicon Valley billionaire last week bewailed supposed “parallels” between Nazi Germany’s “war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews” and “the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’” Citing rising angst over inequality, he insisted: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

From this skewed perspective, the 85 people who now own as much wealth as 3.5 billion people aren’t the big winners. They are instead a persecuted diaspora being exterminated by Hitler.

Note Perkins was quoted: He really said and more probably than not also mostly meant these truly insane things. Also, as Sirota makes clear in the rest of the article, this is not at all uncommon in  the United States these days - which I restate as: If you oppose the government, you are a terrorist; if you oppose the billionaires, you are a Nazi. Also, the real point is not at all whether this is true in any sense (and in fact neither is, at all): the point is that using terms like "terrorist" and "Nazi" gives you the moral high ground, and anyway few of those who hear you did any systematic reading about terrorism or Nazism.

Also, I should add that many were unhappy with Perkins's writings, and that Perkins meanwhile has "apologized" but also said the following (and I quote from the Wikipedia article on him):
Perkins subsequently apologized for making comparisons with Nazi Germany, but otherwise stood by the message of his letter, saying. “In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization” (...)
In other words: he persists (but with a mock "apology").

6. The Horror Show of America: 'We Are Slaves to Profit,' the Creator of The Wire Tells Bill Moyers

Next an article, or rather an interview, by Bill Moyers, that I found on Alternet that seems to have originated on  This starts as follows:

This week on Moyers & Company, David Simon, journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme, talks with Bill Moyers about the crisis of capitalism in America. After President Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union address, it’s a reality check from someone who artfully uses television drama to report on the state of America from an entirely different perspective — the bottom up.

“The horror show is we are going to be slaves to profit. Some of us are going to be higher on the pyramid and we’ll count ourselves lucky and many many more will be marginalized and destroyed,” Simon tells Moyers. He blames a “purchased” Congress for failing America’s citizens, leading many of them to give up on politics altogether.

The rest is a good interview (apart from the fact that there are far too many "you know"s in it) that you can read yourself. Note: it is not optimistic, but I think justifiedly so: there are very few causes for optimism about the US, unless you are Jamie Dimon or one of his colleagues.

7. Beyond Orwell’s Worst Nightmare

The final crisis item today is an article by Marjorie Cohn, who is a professor of law and a past president of the National Lawyers Guild, on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
“Big Brother is Watching You,” George Orwell wrote in his disturbing book 1984. But, as Mikko Hypponen points out, Orwell “was an optimist.” Orwell never could have imagined that the National Security Agency (NSA) would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day. Orwell could not have foreseen that our government would read the content of our emails, file transfers, and live chats from the social media we use.
Yes, indeed. And this is a good and informed article, that I leave to you, except for this part near the end, that quite adequately sums up part of the justified criticism of Obama's speech on the State of the Union:

Obama would likely argue that our modern day “war on terror” is unlike COINTELPRO because it targets real, rather than imagined, threats. But, as Hypponen says, “It’s not the war on terror.” Indeed, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent federal privacy watchdog, found “no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.”

The NSA spying program captures all of us, including European leaders, people in Mexico, Brazil, the United Nations, and the European Union Parliament, not just the terrorists. Although Obama assured us that the government “does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism or dissent,” our history, particularly during COINTELPRO, tells us otherwise.

Obama proposed some reforms to the NSA program, but left in place the most egregious aspects. He said that the NSA must secure approval of a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before it gets access to the phone records of an individual. But that is a secret court, whose judges are appointed by the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, and it has almost never turned down an executive branch wiretapping request since it was created in 1978. Most significantly, Obama did not say that surveillance without judicial warrants or individual suspicion should be halted.

Yes, quite so - and also, I add, it never was about "the war on terror": It was from the very beginning, that goes back to 9/11/2001 or before, about finding all the private data of everyone, in order to control them:"the war on terror" always was a pretext.

8. About psychiatry

Finally, a good article about psychiatry by me, from a little over a year ago:
I note that most of the article is repeated from a much larger file on my site, from April 2012, DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis" but with a few changes and with some corrected typos.

Also, it has the following long footnote that I here reproduce, because it clarifies my attitude to "psychiatry" - between quotes, because this is not at all a singular thing, or doctrine or theory, and never was:

Being an elderly psychologist and philosopher, who has learned nearly all of the above since he got fast internet in 2009, maybe I should warn against a confusion some may be liable to, as indeed I myself probably was, before 2009, which amounts to denying that there is a real major health problem, namely because one already knows that psychiatry and psychology are not what professional psychiatrists and psychologists claim these to be.

Personally, I have never taken psychiatry serious as a real science, basically because I did read Freud, Jung, Laing and some others already in the 1960ies, and decided that whatever that was intented to be, and whatever that was good for - since many people do have psychological problems, and some get thoroughly mad, and all such persons deserve some form of help, however motivated, provided it is honest and not based on false pretensions - it certainly was not real science, in the sense that physics, chemistry, biology and most of medicine other than psychiatry are real sciences.

Then again, until 2009 I never worried about psychiatry, because it seemed to me to be somehow useful - more so than not - for at least two ends:

To help the insane, and to provide some sort of support for the neurotic, where I mean by "the insane" those who are thoroughly mad and not capable of helping themselves nor of functioning in society (without a lot of help), and by "the neurotic" those with psychological problems who can function socially, but who seek help from professionals, since they cannot find it elsewhere, and because they feel miserable (anxious, fearful, nervous, unhappy etc.)

It also seemed to me, from what I knew about psychiatry and clinical psychology, that much of that help was bound to be inept, since most of what I had read in those subjects seemed mostly false to me, but then in life one must make do with what there is rather than what there should be, while society is fundamentally an interpersonal contract for mutual help or protection.

It now seems to me - after three years of reading since 2009 - that psychiatry since the DSM-III of 1980 is an intentional fraud, an intentional scam, that is meant to enrich psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies by the selling of as many psychiatric drugs as is possible, and that for this purpose the whole diagnostic machinery of psychiatry, that never was really scientific, because there was not enough knowledge about how the brain manufactures human thought and feeling, has been transmogrified into an intentional pseudoscience that is designed on purpose to look and sound as if it were medical science, but is in fact intentional bullshit designed to give psychiatrists power without social control, without being found out, and with the possibility, that comes with their having a medical B.A., to sell as many medical drugs to laymen as they can.

This is dangerous in itself, and the more since in the same period of the last 30 years the social control of the drug companies has grown much less, whereas great parts of what used to be more or less inept psychiatric attempts at science have been replaced by professional salesmanship and marketeering driven by the justified expectation of enormous profits:

Modern psychiatry, at least since the DSM-III, is not about helping people with psychological problems in an honest way, but is about selling them expensive drugs in a profitable way.

It is no longer a medical specialism, if it ever was; it is a kind of pseudo-medical public relations through public deceptions that are designed for and driven by profit, by the sales of psychiatric drugs, which since the 1980ies has become an enormously profitable industry, that lacks control precisely because psychiatry and pharmacology are difficult to understand, and because psychiatry since the DSM-III has been designed on purpose to provide psychiatrists with more power, with more patients, and with license to sell drugs for profit.

If I were you, or you were me, I would avoid seeing any psychiatrist if I felt a need for psychological help of some kind, and would much rather see a psychologist, not because these know more than psychiatrists (both are bogged down by lack of knowledge of the brain, and also lack of knowledge of how society's many influences shape personality and character), but because they will listen better; they will have seen far fewer salespeople who try to make them sell expensive drugs (see the very instructive videos by Gwen Olsen, former pharmacological sales representative); because they lack the power to lock up people; and because there are far fewer rich forces from pharmacological companies willing to buy their assistance.

Then again, because I am a psychologist, I can assure you very confidently that psychologists, as well, in actual fact know very little about human persons, their motives, their thoughts, or their desires - which also is not a shame, because there is far more to learn than there is known, and this is especially true about
persons, motives,  thoughts, desires and their interactions (for nobody sees them, and anybody only knows these directly from his or her own experience: all the rest is inference, and is usually false, unless it is very trite and common).



[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.)

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)[2]

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
Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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