This is the Nederlog of April
11. It is another crisis
I have five articles for you, of which the first announces that Glenn
Greenwald and Laura Poitras are - briefly - returning to the US, namely
to accept the George Polk Award. This one may react to in various ways,
but no one knows what is going to happen.
The other four articles will probably not make you happier, but they
are about the crisis.
Reporters Greenwald and Poitras to Return
Home to Collect Honors
The first article today is by
Donald Kaufman on Truth Dig:
It starts like this (and isn't
I say. That seems courageous to
me, because they really do not know what may await them. As the article
Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras will return to the United States on
Friday for the first time since the start of the Snowden revelations to
accept a George Polk award. Joining them will be Guardian reporter Ewen
MacAskill and The Washington Post’s Barton Gellman.
Greenwald told reporters
he’s motivated to return because “certain factions in the U.S.
government have deliberately intensified the threatening climate for
journalists.” He added that the U.S. government had not informed his
legal counsel of any charges he or Poitras might face.
Barack Obama has
used the Espionage Act more times than all other presidents combined.
Greenwald and others point to this fact to argue that the crackdown on
whistle-blowers and their partner journalists has reached a peak in
U.S. history. For journalists in particular, their jobs and
relationships to their sources have put them directly in the
government’s cross hairs.
Yes, quite so. And I really
don't know what risks they run. I hope they are not harassed, but
almost anything might happen.
Merkel denied access to her NSA file
The next item is an
article by Paul Lewis and Philip Oltermann on The Guardian:
This starts as
The US government is
refusing to grant Angela Merkel
access to her NSA file or answer formal
questions from Germany about its
surveillance activities, raising the stakes before a crucial visit by
the German chancellor to Washington.
Merkel will meet Barack
Obama in three weeks, on her first visit to the US capital since
documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been monitoring
The face-to-face meeting
between the two world leaders had been intended as an effort to
publicly heal wounds after the controversy, but Germany remains
frustrated by the White House's refusal to come clean about its
surveillance activities in the country.
In October, Obama
personally assured Merkel that the US is no longer monitoring her
calls, and promised it will not do so in the future. However,
Washington has not answered a list of questions submitted by Berlin
immediately after Snowden's first tranche of revelations appeared in
the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, months before the
revelations over Merkel's phone.
One guess one may have at
this point is that Merkel is not "exceptional", which is the mark Obama
and many Americans assign to themselves, and themselves only, as if an
American passport makes them "exceptional".
I am not quite serious, but
I have read the argument - repeatedly and seriously - that for the US
anyone is fair game who lacks an American passport: Such folks may be
spied upon without any hindrance and without any legal redress or
defense from the U.S. legal system, regardless from who they are.
Indeed, that seems also the
main reason behind ten years - it seems - of secret tapping of Angela
Merkel's phone by the NSA.
There's also this:
administration has also refused to enter into a mutual "no-spy"
agreement with Germany, in part because Berlin is unwilling or unable
to share the kinds of surveillance material the Americans say would be
required for such a deal.
Here I must guess
again: it seems as if Obama has proposed that he will agree to "a
no-spy agreement", if the Germans do the spying on the Germans that
Obama deems necessary, after which he will proudly announce to the
media that he is not spying on the Germans anymore.
This is a guess, but
a fair one. These is also this (with a correction by me in the spelling
Two weeks ago, the German
Der Spiegel said the NSA kept more than 300 reports on Merkel in a
special databank concerning heads of state.
The report, published
in partnership with The Intercept, a website set up by the former
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, was based on documents provided by
Snowden. Previously, Der Spiegel revealed the NSA had monitored
Merkel's mobile phone for as long as 10 years.
There is rather a lot
more in the article, that I leave to you, but I do wish to quote the
last paragraph, since that promises a Ph.D. for Edward Snowden:
Academics at Rostock
University, meanwhile, have voted to award Edward Snowden an honorary
doctorate. Members of the philosophy faculty said they wanted to reward
Snowden's "civil courage" and his "substantial contribution to a new
global discourse about freedom, democracy, cosmopolitanism and the
rights of the individual".
3. Budget serves as GOP 'campaign
manifesto' ahead of midterms
next item is an
article by Jacob Chamberlain on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
In a move critics say
would lead the country further down a path of austerity, the U.S. House
of Representatives passed
Paul Ryan's proposed budget plan on Thursday.
If made into law, the
bill would block funding for Medicaid and food stamps, turn Medicare
into a voucher system, repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut grants for
college students, dramatically decrease research and infrastructure
spending, and slash multiple other safety net programs for hurting U.S.
residents, all the while lowering the corporate tax rate to 25 percent
and increasing military spending.
That seems complete madness
to me, but indeed I am poor and ill. Happily, I am not a poor and ill
American, for this is what the Republicans are pushing, and about the
only good news I found in the article is this:
The budget "will serve
largely as a campaign manifesto" for upcoming midterm
elections, Reuters reports, as it is not expected to pass in
US: EU Circumvention of NSA Spying Would Violate Trade Law
an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows
Snowden's revelations that the U.S. is spying on people and governments
across the world, European Union countries have floated proposals to
build a Europe-centric communications system designed to bypass NSA
But on Friday, the top
U.S. trade negotiating body charged that such a move would violate
international trade law.
"Recent proposals from
countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic
network (dubbed a 'Schengen cloud' by advocates) or to create
national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective
exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are
directly offering network services, or dependent on them," states a report
released Friday by the office of U.S. Trade Representative Michael
This means that since
the US wants to illegally spy on everyone, and wants to have
everybody's personal data, which it can do because it houses much of
the physical network of the internet and the internet so far works
mostly unencrypted, any country that does not want to be spied upon
will be discriminated by the US (and may be happy, I presume, not be
called "a terrorist nation" eminently fit for drone attacks).
I am sorry if I
misunderstood, but this is what it seems to amount to: A complete
inversion of all values and all decency. And this from the same folks
that are trying to push through the TPP.
5. U.S. Claims Country Building Its Own Network to Protect
Against NSA Spying Violates Trade Laws
Finally, an article
by Washington's Blog on the same subject as the previous item:
This starts as follows:
There is more quoted in
the article, after which Washington's Blog asks:
NSA spying is costing the
U.S. tech industry tens
of billions of dollars, and people around the world are trying to
find non-U.S. companies to provide internet, cloud and computer
products and services. And see this
Numerous countries are
trying to thwart
Many countries are
planning to create their own communications infrastructures to bypass
the U.S. altogether. For example, economic powerhouse Germany
is rolling out a system that would keep all data within Germany’s national borders.
The U.S. is trying to not
only protect U.S. businesses, but also keep the NSA’s hand in the
cookie jar by arguing (wait for it…) that closing borders to the NSA
would violate trade law.
Specifically, the United
States Trade Representative released a report
Recent proposals from
countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic
network (dubbed a “Schengen cloud” by advocates) or to create national-only
electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or
discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly
offering network services, or dependent on them.
In particular, Deutsche
Telekom AG (DTAG), Germany’s biggest phone company, is publicly
advocating for EU-wide statutory requirements that electronic
transmissions between EU residents stay within the territory of the EU,
in the name of stronger privacy protection.Specifically, DTAG has
called for statutory requirements that all data generated within the EU
not be unnecessarily routed outside of the EU; and has called for
revocation of the U.S.-EU “Safe Harbor” Framework, which has provided a
practical mechanism for both U.S companies and their business partners
in Europe to export data to the United States, while adhering to EU
privacy requirements. (...)
Yes, indeed. And the frightening thing is not that
Froman believes it, which he almost certainly doesn't, but that he uses
these totally sick and arbitrary "arguments", which indeed come out of the same box
as the US's arguments that journalists are terrorists if they write the
truth about US spying: everything is reduced to propaganda and
The U.S. trade rep
claiming that countries which don’t invite killer American reaper
drones with open arms are unfairly competing against American weapons