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. Obama knew CIA secretly
committee, senator claims
2. Governments are spying on our sexual lives.
3. CIA Accused of Spying on Senate Panel Investigating
The Inverse of Oversight: CIA Spies On Congress
This is the crisis issue of
Nederlog of March 6, 2014. It so happens that 3 out of 4 articles I
review are about the same thing, but this is not a real shortcoming, if
only because they each bring something else.
The one item that is not about the CIA spying on Congress is about the
GCHQ spying on the sexual habits of completely innocent and naive users
of webcams. It is a considerably better piece than another from the
1. Obama knew CIA secretly monitored
intelligence committee, senator claims
The first article is
by Spencer Ackerman in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
A leading US senator has
said that President Obama knew of an “unprecedented action” taken by
the CIA against the Senate intelligence committee, which has apparently
prompted an inspector general’s inquiry at Langley.
The subtle reference in a
Tuesday letter from Senator Mark Udall to Obama, seeking to enlist the
president’s help in declassifying a 6,300-page inquiry by the committee
into torture carried out by CIA interrogators after 9/11, threatens to
plunge the White House into a battle between the agency and its Senate
and the New
York Times reported Wednesday that the CIA had secretly monitored
computers used by committee staffers preparing the inquiry report,
which is said to be scathing not only about the brutality and
ineffectiveness of the agency’s interrogation techniques but deception
by the CIA to Congress and policymakers about it. The CIA sharply
disputes the committee’s findings.
In fact, here is that
MClatchy link in full, because it seems a good article, by Jonathan S.
Landay, Ali Watkins and Marisa Taylor:
From the last dotted source:
Now back to the first dotted
source, which contains a lot more and ends thus:
In question now is
whether any part of the committee’s report, which took some four years
to compose and cost $40 million, will ever see the light of day.
The report details how
the CIA misled the Bush administration and Congress about the use of
interrogation techniques that many experts consider torture, according
to public statements by committee members. It also shows, members have
said, how the techniques didn’t provide the intelligence that led the
CIA to the hideout in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was killed in a
2011 raid by Navy SEALs.
The committee determined
earlier this year that the CIA monitored computers – in possible
violation of an agreement against doing so – that the agency had
provided to intelligence committee staff in a secure room at CIA
headquarters that the agency insisted they use to review millions of
pages of top-secret reports, cables and other documents, according to
people with knowledge.
Yes, indeed - but if James
Clapper may lie to Congress, and Congress doesn't do anything
him, then why would Congress investigate the CIA's unauthorized usage
of a computer network, even if it is to spy on members of Congress, as
Senator Carl Levin, a
Michigan Democrat and ex officio member of the intelligence committee,
said the alleged monitoring was potentially “extremely serious.”
“If, as alleged in the
media, CIA accessed without permission or authority a computer network
dedicated for use by a Senate committee, it would be an extremely
serious matter. Such activity, if it occurred as alleged, would impede
Congress’ ability to carry out its constitutional oversight
responsibilities and could violate federal law,” Levin said in a
statement on Wednesday.
I am asking it as the devil's advocate, but it has a serious point,
namely - as item 4, below, also very clearly shows
- that it would seem to me that Congress has let itself be sidelined by
- completely unelected - governmental forces like the NSA and the CIA,
which it should
control but does not, and already for a long time as
well, namely since 9/11/2001.
Besides, when such an unelected governmental official provably lies to
Congress, as James Clapper did, Congress lets it pass, as if generals
who spy on everyone should be allowed to lie about that as well.
Next, there is also the question whether the report on torture by the
CIA - or, if you like: "interrogation techniques that many experts
regard as torture" - that cost 40 million ever will see the
day, since those effectively running the country rather would not
that anyone reads it.
Anyway - more below, in items 3 and 4.
2. Governments are spying on our sexual lives.
Will we tolerate it?
next article is by Van Badham and appeared in the Guardian:
This starts as follows:
The reason this is here
is that Van Badham, who normally writes about the theatre for the
Guardian, is genuinely shocked:
The Guardian recently published
another disturbing revelation from files supplied by
whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Co-ordinated by British
GCHQ as a partner of the Five
Eyes alliance of spying nations
(which include the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia), from 2008
least 2012 a surveillance programme named Optic Nerve has been
and storing images of webcam chats from Yahoo’s servers. Snowden’s
the images were harvested in bulk from millions of ordinary Yahoo users
were not suspected of wrongdoing, and were not intelligence targets. In
a single six-month period, the
agency siphoned webcam images from more than 1.8m global Yahoo
The intrusion of
the state’s prying eyes into
this particular arena of human intimacy is yet another reason to
greatest possible civic outrage against “dataveillance”, its agents
and sponsors. The Yahoo spying not only compromises each individual
“intimate parts of their body” that Snowden’s documents reveal have
been examined, assessed and collated by government employees, but
that powerful and necessary role that privacy – particularly sexual
privacy – plays in personal development and individual agency.
She also says, again
Five Eyes is, of
course, perfectly metaphoric for the Panopticon – a
prison designed by Jeremy Bentham on the principle
that prisoners aware they were constantly under surveillance would
just presume surveillance and therefore automatically police
Philosopher Michel Foucault employed the Panopticon in his book Discipline
Punish as an analogy of state power: and as we now must consider
oversight of the state as we reach for the webcam button to talk to our
overseas boyfriends, Foucault’s explanation of “the function of
discipline as an apparatus of
power” is something that could and should be on
There is considerably
more in the article, and I should add that it seems a lot better
written than Ms Hyde's (see March 3)
although the worries are the same, and indeed also are quite justified.
3. CIA Accused of Spying on Senate Panel
article is by Lauren McCauley and is on Common Dreams:
This is also about
what item 1 is about, but it is an interesting
alternative view. It
starts as follows:
In an ironic turn,
the congressional authorities who have staunchly defended the National
Security Agency's widespread spying operations are now crying foul
after having been spied on by another branch of U.S. intelligence.
News reporting on Tuesday
revealed that the Inspector General's office, the agency tasked with
CIA oversight, has asked the Department of Justice to investigate
claims that the spy agency monitored computers used by Senate aides
preparing what is believed to be a "searing
indictment" on the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program.
what McClatchy news characterized as
an "unprecedented breakdown in relations between the CIA and its
congressional overseers," members of the Senate Intelligence Committee
are saying the alleged CIA spying violates provisions of the Federal
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Yes, indeed. Also,
there is another point:
The Udall letter also
calls for the President to "declassify as much as possible" of the
6,300-page report "for the American people."
The report remains
classified nearly 15 months after the Senate panel completed the
document and turned it over to the CIA for vetting.
"It is my belief that the
declassification of the Committee Study is of paramount importance and
that decisions about what should or should not be declassified
regarding this issue should not be delegated to the CIA, but directly
handled by the White House," Udall continued.
So the CIA is now
vetting for 15 months a report that is supposed to
detail its abuses and lies, and also the CIA used the computer
of the Senate, all against agreements.
To me it seems the US Congress has been turned into an irrelevance: it
passes hardly any more laws; most of its members are bought; and it
cannot do the oversight it is supposed to do, because it gets misled by
the services that it is supposed to oversee.
In case you question
my last statement, look at the next item:
The Inverse of Oversight: CIA Spies On Congress
Next, and last for
today, an article by Dan
Froomkin on The Intercept:
This again is another
view that was discussed in item 1 and item 3, which I am not really
sorry for, since all brought something new. The new thing this
brings is that it shows quite clearly that members of Congress are
basically lied to and misled by the governors they are supposed to
This is from the end:
Sen. Barbara Mikulski
(D-Md.) famously responded to
Attorney General Eric Holder’s contention that senators had been “fully
briefed” on surveillance programs at a June 2013 Senate Judiciary
subcommittee hearing by saying:
“‘Fully briefed’ doesn’t mean that we know what’s going on.”
Here is video of Rep.
Justin Amash (R-Mich.) describing the futility of getting information
in intelligence briefings for members of Congress at the Cato Institute
in October 2013: “You’ll find that it’s just a game of 20 questions,”
he said. But “you don’t know what questions to ask…. You don’t have any
idea what kind of things are going on.”
Part of what Amash (a
Republican) says in the video (which is in Vimeo, which may explain
that you cannot see it, if indeed that is the case):
Which is to say: the unelected
governors, the executives, simply lie to, deceive, refuse information,
and mislead the members of Congress that are supposed to control them,
who in general also have no idea of what is going on, because no one
tells them anything, though many assure them they have been "fully
briefed" (in so far as Mr Holder approves, and in the special senses he
is used to give to words).
You have to start just
spitting out random questions.
Does the government have a moon base? Does the government have a
talking bear? Does the government have a cyborg army? If you don’t know
what kind of things the government might have, you just have to guess
and it becomes a totally ridiculous game of twenty questions. If you
ask something in slightly the wrong way, they will tell you no. They’ll
say No , we don’t do that. Or NO, that agency doesn’t do that. Maybe
some other agency does it, but they’re not going to tell you that…. Or
no, we can’t do that under this program, but we can do it under this
program.. they don’t tell you that information… but you don’t know what
the other programs are.
That is not a democracy, and it arose since 9/11.
I am still busy on various other things (than
writing Nederlogs) that I have not finished yet.
 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: