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."
1. An online Magna Carta:
Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights
2. Feinstein accuses CIA of 'intimidating' Senate staff over
West’s ‘War on Democracy’
Snowden Told Me the NSA Set Fire to the Web. Silicon
Valley Needs to Put It Out
This is the Nederlog of March
It is about the crisis and
has five items, but the second has several dotted links, because it is
about Diane Feinstein's inconsistent rage that the Senate is being
spied upon by the CIA. This amuses and puzzles me, and it may be
important, though this depends on further developments.
Also, the present Nederlog is uploaded considerably earlier than is
usual for me.
Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web
The first article is by Jemima Kiss in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I'll come to this in a
moment, but first want to quote something he said that I agree much
The inventor of the world
wide web believes an online "Magna Carta" is needed to protect and
enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of
its users worldwide.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
told the Guardian the web had come under increasing attack from
governments and corporate influence and that new rules were needed to
protect the "open, neutral" system.
Speaking exactly 25 years
after he wrote the first draft of the first proposal for what would
become the world wide web, the computer scientist said: "We need a
global constitution – a bill of rights."
"Unless we have an
open, neutral internet we can rely on
without worrying about what's happening at the back door, we can't have
open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities
and diversity of culture. It's not naive to think we can have that, but
it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it."
With this last quote I
more or less agree, although I do not think it is up to "us", mere
users of the net (anonymous as "we" often are, also scolding a lot):
Things just don't work that way.
much doubt the former set of quotations spell out an idea that will work,
for three reasons (and there are more):
First, there is no power that will maintain such a Magna Carta.
Second, we have one: The Declaration
of Human Rights. Third, the world comprises the internet, much
rather than that the internet comprises the world. (Also, it's a bit
late, 25 years after creating the internet.)
Let me explain.
First: An important part of the power of the internet is that it is
really international, which means - in practice - that nobody
really keeps the laws, also because there aren't any, in many ways. In
fact, this also is what permits the NSA and the GCHQ to do their
spying, though that is also related to the fact that personal data are unencrypted
on the internet, and to extreme stretching of the laws that do
Second: There are large chunks of state laws that do apply
(though these too run far behind the facts), and also some
international law, namely the United
Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Again, the main difficulty is
that the internet is international and there is no one who is paid to oversee
and to maintain the laws on the internet.
Third: It really is a mistake to think that the internet comprises the
world, when it clearly is the other way around. Part of that mistake is
to accept the extreme
stretching of the laws, such as the GCHQ and the NSA do, when they
collect one's private mail. It doesn't matter who transports
private data: private data should remain private, and should not
be collected, except on probable cause, and with a public
judge's approval. (The same as applies to letters, sent in ordinary
mail: Clearly everyone can steam open the envelopes, but this is a crime.
The same goes for e-mail: it should be read only by those to who it is
directed, and not by some anonymous extra-ordinarily powerful state
spies, except on a probable cause and overseen by an objective public
So... while I also am not against an online Magna Carta, I do not
expect much from it, certainly not in the brief run, if only because
there is no one paid to maintain and apply it, and I also do not see
anyone who could.
accuses CIA of 'intimidating' Senate staff over
The next article is by Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman, and is in the
This starts as follows,
and is pretty ironic:
report is over 6000 pages; took four years of producing; costs 40
million dollars, and now has been vetted for 15 months by the
institution it criticizes, the CIA.
The chairwoman of the
Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, on Tuesday accused the
Central Intelligence Agency of a catalogue of cover-ups, intimidation
and smears aimed at investigators probing its role in an “un-American
and brutal” programme of post-9/11 detention and interrogation.
In a bombshell statement
on the floor of the US Senate, Feinstein, normally an administration
loyalist, accused the CIA of potentially violating the US constitution
and of criminal activity in its attempts to obstruct her committee’s
investigations into the agency’s use of torture. She described the
crisis as a “defining moment” for political oversight of the US
Her unprecedented public
assault on the CIA represented an intensification of the row between
the committee and the agency over a still-secret report on the torture
of terrorist suspects after 9/11.
And what is so ironic about it is that Senator Feinstein has been very,
very much in favor of spying on ordinary Americans
because, she says, "of the bombs", "the big bombs", "the very big
bombs", and "the malevolence". (I quoted her.)
I do not know much about Senator Feinstein, who seems to be quite
serious about this, as can be seen from the following quotation:
So I looked elsewhere,
and here are three items that tell more about this.
Feinstein said the two
investigations, launched at the behest of the CIA, amounted to an
attempt at “intimidation”. She revealed that CIA officials had also
been reported to the Department of Justice for alleged violations of
the fourth amendment and laws preventing them from domestic spying.
“This is a defining
moment for the oversight role of our intelligence committee ... and
whether we can be thwarted by those we oversee,” said Feinstein in a
special address on the floor of the the US Senate.
“There is no legitimate
reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have
committed a crime... this is plainly an attempt to intimidate these
staff and I am not taking it lightly.”
First, there is a video by The Young Turks. This takes 8 minutes and 40
seconds, but it is a good video, that is mostly concerned with her
inconsistencies, that are also clearly shown:
of Feinstein's earlier attempts to justify the NSA, and of her latest
attempt to blame the CIA for spying on the Senate.
Second, here is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:
This starts as
Head of the Senate
Intelligence Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday accused the CIA
of interfering with the committee's investigation into the agency's
Bush-era torture program, including conducting an unauthorized "search"
of the committee's computers and removing documents, in an effort to
thwart a potentially "searing
indictment" of the interrogation program.
This also is mostly concerned
with Feinstein's inconsistencies - that she allows the spying on 300
millions of Americans (because "there are very big bombs") but objects
to being spied upon herself.
In a statement
given on the Senate floor, the democratic senator said she had "grave
concerns" that the CIA's search "may well have violated the separation
of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution" as
well as "the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as
well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting
domestic searches or surveillance."
She also said the CIA was
attempting "to intimidate this staff—and I am not taking it lightly."
Third, here is an article by David Corn on Mother Jones:
This takes a
different point of view in a fairly long article from which I will only
quote the last paragraph:
didn't say—but it's surely implied—is that without effective
monitoring, secret government cannot be justified in a democracy. This
is indeed a defining moment. It's a big deal for President Barack
Obama, who, as is often noted in these situations, once upon a time
taught constitutional law. Feinstein has ripped open a scab to reveal a
deep wound that has been festering for decades. The president needs to
respond in a way that demonstrates he is serious about making the
system work and restoring faith in the oversight of the intelligence
establishment. This is more than a spies-versus-pols DC turf
battle. It is a constitutional crisis.
I do not know, but it
West’s ‘War on Democracy’
Next, an article by
Annie Machon, who at one point, in the previous century, was working
for the English secret service MI5, on Consortium News:
In fact, this is a
consideration on the basis of pastor Martin
Niemöller's words, that I cite from Wikipedia (in one version:
there are several):
First they came for the
Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the
Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade
Then they came for the
Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for
me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
And indeed pastor Martin
Niemöller was arrested in 1937 and was committed to the
concentration camp, which he survived. Note that part of this quotation
is that it was known that the communists, socialists, trade
unionists, Jews and the incurably ill were put in concentrarion camps
or killed: people just didn't care if it happened to others who
were not of their own group.
So that is Annie
Some readers will be well
aware of my horror at the global
rape of basic human rights in the West’s “war on terror” since
9/11: the kidnappings, the torture, the CIA presidentially-approved
weekly assassination lists, the drone bombings, the illegal wars….
All these measures have
indeed targeted and terrorized the Muslim community around the world.
In the UK I have heard many stories of British Muslims wary of
attending a family event such as a wedding of their cousins in Pakistan
or wherever, in case they get snatched, tortured or drone bombed.
There is also this:
Then we have the ongoing
“war on whistleblowers” that I have discussed
extensively. This affects every
sector of society in every country, but most seriously affects
whistleblowers emerging from central government, the military and the
intelligence agencies. They are the ones most likely to witness the most heinous crimes, and they are
the ones automatically criminalized by secrecy laws.
This is most apparent in
the UK, where the Official Secrets Act (1989) specifically criminalizes
whistleblowing, and in the USA, where President Barack Obama has
invoked the 1917 Espionage Act against whistleblowers more times than
all other presidents combined over the last century. If that is not a
“war on whistleblowers,” I don’t know what is.
And she ends as follows
always somewhat complacently thought they had special protections in
Western countries, are being increasingly targeted when trying to
report on issues such as privacy, surveillance, whistleblower
disclosures and wars.
Only a few are being
targeted now, but I hope these cases will be enough to wake the rest
up, while there is still the chance for them to take action … before
there is nobody left to speak up for us.
Yes, indeed. In case
you worry, there is my Crisis:
Why are so many so apathetic?
of January 2, 2013, that ends as follows (in part): Because of:
education, stupefying media, and
especially 50 years of TV, natural languages poisoned by figures of speech, fallacies and rhetoric as
practised in public
advertisements , and the relativization of all values,
of all knowledge, and of all aspirations to what the democratic masses,
as manipulated by propaganda in the media, (are supposed to) approve.
That was the summary. Here is a final bit of Burke that is relevant:
you do, work on in despair.
I am not despairing, but I am also not content with the
apathy I see.
4. Snowden Told Me the NSA Set Fire to the Web. Silicon Valley
Needs to Put It Out
Next, an article
by Christopher Soghoian
on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows,
by a self-described computer geek, who also works for the ACLU:
“You are the
firefighters,” National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden told
a tech savvy audience here yesterday, during my
conversation with him at the SXSW festival. “The people in Austin
are the ones who can protect our rights through technical standards.”
There is rather a lot
Ed’s comments were a call
to arms for the tech community to protect its users from indiscriminate
mass surveillance by the NSA and the insecurity it creates. Despite the
talk from Washington DC regarding cybersecurity
threats – and you’ll hear more of it today during
a confirmation hearing for the would-be next head of the NSA – it
is now clear that the NSA’s mass surveillance efforts are not meant for
good. Whether it’s systematically undermining
global encryption standards, hacking
communications companies’ servers and data links or exploiting so-called zero-day vulnerabilities,
the nation’s cyberspies are focused on attacking online privacy and
weakening the security of systems that we all trust.
Finally, an article by Ralph Nader, from his site, that is in fact - it
seems - an advertisement for a recent book of his:
I do not like extensive
capitalization, but I quote it as it is given. Also, I like Nader
(without agreeing with him on everything), so I quote a bit from what
may be on the back of "UNSTOPPABLE" (since it is about Nader and his
book rather than by him):
I hope he is right.
We are at one of the most
pivotal moments in our country’s political history: Americans are more
disillusioned with their political leaders than ever before and large
majorities of citizens tell pollsters that big corporations have too
much political power. The ever-tightening influence of big business on
the mainstream media, elections and our local, state, and federal
governments, have caused many Americans to believe they have no
Yet, Ralph Nader—named by
Time and Life magazines as one of the most influential Americans of the
twentieth century—has an impassioned and game-changing message for
American citizens: You are not powerless.
In UNSTOPPABLE, Nader
persuasively demonstrates that there is an emerging Left-Right alliance
which has the power to dismantle the corporate-government tyranny.
Large segments from the progressive, conservative, and libertarian
political camps already find themselves aligned in opposition to the
destruction of civil liberties, the bloated and economically draining
corporate welfare state, the relentless perpetuation of America’s wars,
sovereignty-shredding free trade agreements, and the unpunished crimes
of Wall Street against Main Street.
 Here it is necessary to insist, with
Aristotle, that the governors do not
rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
It is more proper
that law should govern than any one of the
citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the
supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to
be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I
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: