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. 9/11 defence teams request
testimonies from FBI
officials amid spying
2. "We Can’t Just Give a Blank Check": Lawmakers
Ending Secrecy of U.S. Intel’s
The U.S. Government Is Paying to Undermine Internet
Security, Not to Fix It
4. Matt Taibbi: The SuperRich in
America Have Become
'Untouchables' Who Don't Go to
Hillary Clinton and the Future Failure of Progressive Hope
This is the Nederlog of April
17. It is another crisis
I have five crisis items, of which I think at least items 2 and 4 are
quite interesting, as is item 5.
Also I am lately looking at more Chomsky - and as you may not realize,
I tend to look at a lot, and do it in bunches: All in the Family, WW I and II, David
Attenborough, and now Noam
Chomsky - and I had prepared two brief pieces with him, but I will
leave them for another time, since the present file is 41 Kb and I am a
bit pressed for time. (But maybe tomorrow.)
1. 9/11 defence teams request testimonies from FBI officials
The first article today is by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
There is quite a bit
more under the last dotted link, but none of it is conclusive.
The defence teams for the
accused 9/11 perpetrators have formally requested testimony from four
officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of whom is a
senior official, deepening a conflict that began with revelations that
the FBI attempted to insert an informant into their ranks.
Defence lawyers said late
on Wednesday that they had formally requested testimony from the two
agents that approached a classification specialist assigned to the
defence team, as well as an FBI special agent assigned to the 9/11
Also, the reason it is reported here is mainly that the FBI is
secretively trying to influence court procedures.
2. "We Can’t Just Give a Blank Check": Lawmakers
Call for Ending Secrecy of U.S. Intel’s Black Budget
The next item is an
article by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now:
This starts as follows:
We speak with
Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont about a bipartisan
bill that would force President Obama to include the total dollar
amount requested for each of the 16 intelligence agencies in his budget
proposal. Using documents leaked by National Security Agency
whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Washington Post has revealed the
nation’s so-called "black budget" to be $53 billion, a 54 percent hike
over the past decade. The documents also revealed the NSA
is paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to U.S. telephone and
Internet companies for clandestine access to their communications
networks. Welch has joined Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, a
fellow member of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security,
in co-sponsoring the Intelligence Budget Transparency Act. "If you are
going to have any oversight whatsoever, you have to know what the
budget is," Welch says.
That is interesting: $53
billion dollars are yearly spend on secret services, and also the NSA
is paying hundreds of millions to telephone and internet companies,
whose spokesmen generally say they are totally innocent.
In fact, this is an interview. Here is part from the start:
(...) Can you talk about just what this act would make transparent?
In brief, this is just basic
information that Welch and Lummis are after, which they need to be
able to do any meaningful control of the US government and
secret services. So far, they do not have it.
Well, pretty basic information—how much of taxpayer money is being
spent on intelligence-gathering activities, the top line number. You
know, there’s not just the NSA and the CIA;
we have like 17 different intelligence-gathering agencies. And those
budgets have exploded. They’re up over 50 percent, even as, as pointed
out, the National Institute of Health, that budget is down 22 percent.
And if you are going to have any oversight whatsoever, you have to know
what the budget is. And in fact, the 9/11 Commission advocated this.
You know, somebody with solid credentials on national security, Lee
Hamilton, is a strong proponent of letting the taxpayers know how much
is being spent. You know, think about it. If you had 16 different
government agencies administering the food stamp program on a secret
budget, how would you know where they were stumbling into each other,
where they were coordinating or not coordinating, where they were
duplicating? So this is basic information that’s the beginning of
congressional oversight and accountability in the intelligence
Congressmember, you’ve also called for ending the gag order on private
companies in terms of their role in disclosing private information. Can
you detail that for us?
Well, sure. You know, these telephone companies, through the FISA
court, have been being required to turn over information that their
customers think was private. And they’re under a gag order, so they
can’t disclose what the government is seeking. So what you have,
essentially, with the expansion of the FISA
court definition of what is acceptable for the intelligence agencies to
do, is private companies with private information on you and me being
required to turn that over in secret. So, what we want to do is end the
gag order. If AT&T or Verizon is requested to turn over
information, they should be able to disclose that, so then there’s an
open and public debate about the limits on intelligence gathering.
This is a fairly good interview, that you find all of under the last
Government Is Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It
next item is an
article by Julia Angwin, that I found on Truth Dig but originates on
This starts as
The Heartbleed computer security bug is
many things: a catastrophic tech failure, an open invitation to criminal
hackers and yet another reason to upgrade our passwords on dozens
of websites. But more than anything else, Heartbleed reveals our
neglect of Internet security.
There is rather a lot
more in the article. I want to make three points about open and closed
The United States spends
more than $50
billion a year on spying and intelligence, while the folks who
build important defense software — in this case a program called
OpenSSL that ensures that your connection to a website is encrypted —
are four core programmers,
only one of whom calls it a full-time job.
First, while open source is the only safe way to program a
computer, because only open source guarantees anybody can
inspect the code, most source is closed, and the main reason for that
is that there is little money for open source.
Second, this problem could be lessened if more governments supported
open source more. Thus, I do not see why so many governments pay
enormous amounts of tax money to Microsoft, whereas they can have the
same computer facilities, or better, with open source, for free, from
Third, I am now nearly two years running Linux, which is open source,
and I find it overall a lot better than Windows, while it is
easily installable. And I have hardly used Windows at all the
past two years: A few hours at most, in nearly two years, and that
almost all without internet connection.
Taibbi: The SuperRich in America Have Become 'Untouchables' Who Don't
Go to Prison
Next, an article by Amy Goodman and Matt
Taibbi that I found on AlterNet but originates on Democracy Now:
This starts as follows:
What this is about is
essentially the following:
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this
month, attorney James Kidney, who was retiring from the Securities and
Exchange Commission, gave a widely reported speech at his retirement
party. He said that his bosses were too, quote, "tentative and fearful"
to hold Wall Street accountable for the 2008 economic meltdown. Kidney,
who joined the SEC in 1986, had tried and failed to bring
charges against more executives in the agency’s 2010 case against
Goldman Sachs. He said the SEC has become, quote, "an agency
that polices the broken windows on the street level and rarely goes to
the penthouse floors. ... Tough enforcement, risky enforcement, is
subject to extensive negotiation and weakening," he said.
Well, for more, we turn
to our guest, Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist, formerly
with Rolling Stone magazine, now with First Look Media. His
new book is called The
Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.
That is: If you are poor and
are arrested with a marijuana joint, you may have to go to jail for ten
or more years, especially if you're black; if you are rich and white
you can defraud - literally! - hundreds of millions of dollars,
and you will not have to spend a single day in jail.
AMY GOODMAN: So
let’s talk about the other side. And I want to go to Attorney General
Eric Holder, his remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee last May
in which he suggests that some banks are just too big to jail.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: I
am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so
large that it does become difficult for us to—to prosecute them when we
are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a
criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national
economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function
of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.
Again, I’m not talking about HSBC; this is just a more general
comment. I think it has an inhibiting influence, impact, on our ability
to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate.
AMY GOODMAN: That
was Attorney General Eric Holder testifying before Congress. His
remarks were widely criticized. This is Federal Judge Jed Rakoff
speaking last November at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
JUDGE JED RAKOFF: To
a federal judge, who takes an oath to apply the law equally to rich and
poor, this excuse, sometimes labeled the too-big-to-jail excuse, is,
frankly, disturbing for what it says about the department’s apparent
disregard for equality under the law.
Here is Matt Taibbi on one such case:
Here is more on how the rich
fare, these days, protected by Holder and Obama:
MATT TAIBBI: So, HSBC,
again, this is one of the world’s largest banks. It’s Europe’s largest
bank. And a few years ago, they got caught, swept up for a variety of
offenses, money-laundering offenses. But one of them involved admitting
that they had laundered $850 million for a pair—for two drug cartels,
one in Mexico and one in South America, and including the notorious
Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico that is suspected in thousands of murders.
And in that case, they
paid a fine; they paid a $1.9 billion fine. And some of the executives
had to defer their bonuses for a period of five years—not give them up,
defer them. But there were no individual consequences for any of the
executives. Nobody had to pull money out of their own pockets for
permanently. And nobody did a single day in jail in that case.
And that, to me, was an
incredibly striking case.
AARON MATÉ: And
Jamie Dimon, of course, gets a 74 percent raise.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah,
exactly. I mean, that’s the punchline to this whole thing, right? I
mean, if you were, you know, the head of any other business—Alex
Pareene of Salon.com made this point, that if he were running a
restaurant and he got the biggest fine in the history of restaurants,
there is no way that he would be kept in, kept on the job as the head
of the company. But he was not only not fired, not only not prosecuted,
but he was kept in the job, and he got a 74 percent raise. And they
essentially paid for $20 billion fines by laying off 7,500 lower-level
workers that year, and so that’s where the pain came from.
There is a lot more in the
interview, which is well done: See the last dotted link.
Clinton and the Future Failure of Progressive Hope and Change
Next, an article
by John Atcheson on Common Dreams:
This is indeed what the
article is about, but is not what I want to quote. Atcheson's thesis is
basically that Hillary Clinton is another Obama, and both are
"Republican lite", and I agree (though I don't agree with his proposal
to "occupy the Democratic Party").
What I do want to quote is the following summary of achievements by
Yes, indeed. You can see
the whole article under the last dotted link.
Here’s what Obama
- Shutting down Gitmo;
- Ending warrantless
- Ending foreign wars;
- An end to trickle down
- Greater regulation of
Wall Street and the financial sector;
- A public option for
- Protecting social
security, Medicaid and Medicare;
- Serious action on
- Greater equality in
opportunity and more broadly shared prosperity …
Here’s what we got: An
administration that set up Goldman Sachs south in the Treasury, doubled
down on domestic spying; expanded a drone policy that creates between 40 to 60 new terrorists for every one
it kills; health care reform that is better than the status quo,
but which rewards corporate insurers as much or more than it does
citizens; international trade agreements that favor corporate
interests, while eviscerating domestic wages, scuttling environmental
performance, and crippling US industrial infrastructure. It’s so bad,
they’re trying to negotiate it in secret …
The list goes on and on,
and so do the betrayals.
 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: