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’s New NSA Proposal
and Democratic Partisan
2. Obama: US must 'win back the trust of
over data collection
3. Significant NSA Change Proposed By Obama
4. The Snowden Effect: Obama,
Lawmakers Propose End to
NSA Bulk Spying
5. The House's NSA Bill Could
Allow More Spying Than Ever.
You Call This Reform?
Simply 'Stop Spying':
Critics Slam NSA Reform Proposals
7. The New Billionaire
8. Public Service Announcement:
Mass Surveillance Is
ALWAYS About Crushing Dissent
This is the Nederlog of March
26. It is another crisis
Actually, the first six items are all concerned with Obama's most
recent plans for the NSA. I have both (mostly) pro and skeptical
articles, and am myself of the skeptical variety, which I am anyway (I
hold about many more things that they are not fully known), and in this
particular case because Obama has been five years pro NSA, and I see no
reason he changed his mind.
But again, most of the relevant facts are unknown to me, and indeed to
almost anyone judging them.
The last two items are an article by Robert Reich, on the rise of the
billionaires, now that money has crept into politics, and a background
article that explains what mass surveillance is for: crushing or
Obama’s New NSA Proposal and Democratic
The first article today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
In fact, this article is more
about the democratic partisan hackery than it is about the new NSA
proposal. This is the first sentence:
I vividly recall
the first time I realized just how mindlessly and uncritically
supportive of President Obama many Democrats were willing to be.
That was in April
2009: Obama was then for the publication of graphic photos, and was
much praised by Democrats; then the Republicans moved in and said it
was dangerous; then Obama changed tack totally ("a 180 degree turn", it
was said in the press - and the Democrats again much praised him.
Meanwhile, until 2014 no one saw the pictures. Greenwald writes about
these 2009 events:
At least for me,
back then, that was astonishing to watch. It’s one thing to strongly
suspect that people are simply adopting whatever views their party’s
leader takes. But this was like the perfect laboratory experiment to
prove that: Obama literally took exact opposition positions in a heated
debate within a three week period and many Democrats defended him when
he was on one side of the debate and then again when he switched to the
I've checked it and
didn't write anything about it, and indeed much doubt that I registered
this series of events in Holland. Then also, if I had registered it, I
would probably not at all have been amazed, since I know from a young
age that most men simply are like this: they follow leaders, they
support leaders, they believe leaders, they trust leaders, and they do
all this not from any principle, though they may quote many, but in the
end simply because he is their leader.
Indeed, the last link, and the next one, are to the lemma Leaders in my
Philosophical Dictionary, that dates back to 2004, while my opinions
there go back to the early 1970ies at the latest (for I come from a
political leftist family). 
Then Greenwald shifts course, and notes:
We’re now about to
have a similar lab experiment, this time in the context of the NSA.
He rightly notes that a
previous statement by Obama, in January 2014, was cosmetic only, and
But under Obama’s latest proposal, the
telecoms “would not be required to retain the data for any longer than
they normally would” (the law currently requires 18 month
retention) and “the NSA could obtain specific records only with
permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order.”
That is, for me this is
again mostly cosmetics on the part of Obama.
As always with Obama, it
remains to be seen whether his words will be followed by any real
corresponding actions. That he claims to support a bill does not mean
he will actually try to have Congress enact it. The details, still
unknown, matter a great deal. And even if this did end the domestic
bulk collection spying program, it would leave undisturbed the vast
bulk of the NSA’s collect-it-all system of suspicionless spying.
Greenwald sees this as another "laboratory experiment", and predicts -
quite safely, I think - that the Democrats will do another twist of 180
degrees that enables them to support their dear leaders with more wild adulation:
When he secretly
bulk collects the calling data on all Americans, it shows he’s a
pragmatic and strong leader who Keeps Us Safe™; when he
tries to end the very same program, it shows he’s flexible and devoted
to our civil liberties — just as he was right to release the torture
photos and also right to suppress them. The Leader is right when he
does X, and he’s equally right when he does Not X. That’s the defining
attribute of the mindset of a partisan hack, an authoritarian, and the
standard MSNBC host.
As I wrote in my lemma Leaders it seems
to me political types - people who love politics, of which I am not one
- are far nore often of that type ("mindset") than people who do not
love politics. So again I am not amazed.
does correctly defend Snowden at the end of his piece, but in fact
gives little clarification of Obama's new NSA proposal, other than I
My own choice is not to trust Obama, for he is Republican Light; he
wants people spied upon; and he has defended that for five years now.
But I agree I do not know the precise text of his "new proposal".
More below (and I have not read the 399 comments there were
when I read the piece: I don't have the time of life for that ).
must 'win back the trust of ordinary citizens' over data collection
The next item is an
article by Spencer
Ackerman on  The Guardian:
This starts - a bit
proudly, it seems to me, and that is quite justified - as follows:
In fact, there is a link
to the right of this article, to one on Snowden, also be Spencer
Ackerman, also on The Guardian:
Barack Obama confirmed on
Tuesday that the US plans to end the National Security Agency's
systematic collection of Americans’ telephone records, as leaders of a
key committee in Congress insisted they were close to a deal with the
White House to revamp the surveillance program.
Under plans to be put
forward by the Obama administration in the next few days, the NSA would
end the so-called bulk collection of telephone records, and instead
would be required to seek a new kind of court order to search data held
by telecommunications companies.
The proposals come nine
months after the practice was first disclosed
by the Guardian, based on leaks from the whistleblower Edward
Snowden. Obama conceded that the revelations had caused trust in the US
to plunge around the world.
This starts as follows:
There is also this in this
The National Security
Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has welcomed plans by Barack
Obama to end the practice of systematically storing Americans’
In a statement through
the American Civil Liberties Union, Snowden said the plans outlined by
Obama were a “turning point”.
To which I say: Perhaps - but
I don't know, and am certainly less impressed by Obama's words than
Snowden said none of
these reforms would have happened without the disclosures he
precipitated. “I believed that if the NSA's unconstitutional mass
surveillance of Americans was known, it would not survive the scrutiny
of the courts, the Congress, and the people,” Snowden said.
"The very first open and
adversarial court to ever judge these programs has now declared them
'Orwellian' and 'likely unconstitutional.' In the USA Freedom Act,
Congress is considering historic, albeit incomplete reforms. And
President Obama has now confirmed that these mass surveillance
programs, kept secret from the public and defended out of reflex rather
than reason, are in fact unnecessary and should be ended.
"This is a turning point,
and it marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from
the NSA and restore the public's seat at the table of government."
There is a lot more in the first dotted article in this section, but
again much of it is vague.
Significant NSA Change
Proposed By Obama
Next, a video by The
This is a good video
that explains what happened in a clear way, and selects the optimistic
explanation, that indeed also is selected by Snowden and Ackerman, both
of whom know a lot about the whole NSA-history.
As indicated, I am
less optimistic (and also considerably older).
The Snowden Effect: Obama, Lawmakers Propose End to NSA
Next, an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
and NSA critics are in no way jumping for joy, but news that both the
Obama administration and lawmakers in Congress are circulating new
proposals for ending the bulk collection of U.S. phone data has some
nodding cautious approval as others point out that the proposals are an
acknowledgement that the NSA has gone too far and that no consideration
of revamping the current programs would be happening without the public
outrage that followed the disclosure of the program by a former NSA
There is considerably
more in the article, including quotations of Spencer Ackerman.
The existence of the bulk
spying effort by the NSA, under what critics call a "stretched"
interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, was a well-guarded
secret until leaks provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden to
journalists last year put the program in the public spotlight.
House's NSA Bill Could Allow More Spying Than Ever. You Call This
Next, an article by Trevor Timm that I found on Common Dreams but
originates on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
White House and the
House Intelligence Committee leaked dueling proposals last night
that are supposedly aimed at ending the mass collection of all
Americans’ phone records. But the devil is in the details, and when it
comes to the National Security Agency’s unique ability to twist
the English language, the devil tends to wrap his horns around every
Yes, indeed - and president
Obama has the same reputation, in my eyes, who has seen very many
The House proposal, to be
unveiled this morning by Reps Mike Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, is
the more worrying of the two. Rogers has been the NSA’s most ardent
defender in Congress and has a long history of distorting
the truth and practicing
in outright fabrication, whether in touting his committee’s alleged
“oversight” or by way of his attempts to impugn the motives of the once
again vindicated whistleblower who started this whole reform debate,
former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
As a general rule,
whenever Mike Rogers (not to be confused with incoming NSA director Michael
Rogers) claims a bill does something particular – like, say,
protect your privacy – it's actually a fairly safe assumption that the
opposite will end up true.
So this is the first article, of those I've quoted so far, that is
fairly skeptical of the White House. There is a lot more, all well
argued, and it ends like this:
Yes - I am with the
Sensenbrenner-Leahy proposal, very much more than with the House
Intelligence proposal, and also more than with Obama's proposal.
Rep James Sensenbrenner’s
USA Freedom Act, would make a much stronger and more comprehensive
bill than either new proposal – at least for those interested in real
NSA reform. Sensenbrenner, who originally wrote the Patriot Act
provision that the NSA re-interpreted in secret, called
the House Intelligence proposal "a convoluted bill that accepts the
administration's deliberate misinterpretations of the law". Although,
even his bill could
be strengthened to ensure bulk collection of Americans' records is
no longer an option for the NSA, or any other government agency.
In the end, there's a
simple way to stop all forms of bulk collection and mass surveillance:
write a law expressly prohibiting it.
Also, I think there is a law that expressly prohibits bulk
collection and mass surveillance: The
6. Simply 'Stop Spying': Critics Slam NSA
article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Both the Obama
administration and the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday revealed
dueling reform proposals both supposedly intended to reign in the
National Security Agency's mass surveillance through limiting the bulk
collection of Americans' phone records. However, following the
much-heralded announcements, reform advocates slammed the proposals
saying "the devil is in the details."
Yes, quite so - and the
details I have not seen, and few have. There's also this:
I quite agree. And there
is also this:
doesn't seem to be contemplating new limits on the agency's authority
to retain, analyze or disseminate the records it collects," writes
Jameel Jaffer, director of the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties
Union. "And it isn't proposing to end bulk collection of all
records – just the bulk collection of phone records."
"Given all the various
ways that the NSA has overreached, piecemeal change is not enough," writes
Cindy Cohn and Mark M. Jaycox of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Again I quite agree. For more, see the last dotted link.
legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, adds that
the House committee proposal "uses reform momentum as a pretext for
expanding government power."
"The bill’s modest
improvements to the phone records program are not worth demolishing the
important judicial role in overseeing these programs," Richardson adds.
Billionaire Political Bosses
article by Robert Reich from his site, that has another subject than
the NSA or Obama:
This starts as follows:
Actually, I disagree:
If you owe more wealth than the bottom 40 percent (around 140 million
persons in the USA) of those who live in your own society,
there is something quite unfair going on in your society, and
the fact that this is legal shows that some things are legal that
should not be, such as owning tenthousand times or a hundredthousand
times more than others, who are mostly very poor. (For example, the
taxes on the rich could be a lot higher - and were a lot
higher, for decades.)
Charles and David Koch
should not be blamed for having more wealth than the bottom 40 percent
of Americans put together. Nor should they be condemned for their
petrochemical empire. As far as I know, they’ve played by the rules and
obeyed the laws.
They’re also entitled to
their own right-wing political views. It’s a free country.
But in using their vast
wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political
views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy. That’s a
betrayal of the most precious thing Americans share.
What Reich is worried about is this:
America is not yet
an oligarchy, but that’s where the Koch’s and a few other billionaires
are taking us.
And that I agree with
(though it is: Kochs) as I do with most of the rest of the article.
Announcement: Mass Surveillance Is ALWAYS About Crushing Dissent
Finally, an article by
Washington's Blog, on that site:
Since I have been saying so since 2005 (in Dutch), at the latest,
here is the whole article, which does give good backgrounds. Also, the
colors and boldings are in the original:
500 Years of History – and 40 Years of Warnings by Top U.S.
Officials – Confirms that Government Spying On One’s Own People Is
Always About Grabbing Power and Stifling Criticism
Given all of the hooey
coming from the spymasters and their shills in the mainstream press,
here’s a very brief reminder of what mass spying is really about:
Anyway - this is the end for today, and while I have some more clarity
on Obama's "New Proposal", and while it is less atrocious than what he
has fronted and defended, I still do not trust it, and am mostly with Timm and McCauley, of all of the
 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.)
 I am also against comments, by
anonymous persons, without any website or any personal credit. It
really is a total waste of my time, and I will not read them. (And no,
you do not need to agree with me. I'm merely explaining that I will not
 Actually, I'll try from now on to use
"on" if I refer to a site, and "in" if I refer to a paper (that's made
In fact, I think leaders are often
treated and regarded as a very special class of men, not because they
really are (nearly all leaders were bad men), but
because that is the way social mammals regard their leaders, as long as
they are the leaders. Also, some are more prone to this wild adulation
of Our Leader than are others, but all have some of it.
(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: