This is the Nederlog of April
21. It is another crisis
Actually, in Holland it is "Second Easter Day". The Dutch also have a
"Second Christmas Day". I do not know the reasons for either, but I
just found that quite a few countries have these second days. Live and
Anyway, I have five crisis items: Two on
Glenn Greenwald, of which the
first tells about his new book; a comparison of Putin and of the GCHQ,
that makes Putin look clean(er than he is); a promise of "a renewed
left" that I find completely implausible; and a good piece by Tom
Engelhardt on what is possible for appointees of the US government
these days, without having to fear the law.
1. Glenn Greenwald book to contain 'new stories from the
The first article today is by Martin Pengelly on The Guardian:
Speaking to Brian
Stelter, the host of CNN's Reliable
Sources, at the end of a week in which Guardian US and the
Washington Post shared a
Pulitzer prize for public service reporting, Greenwald said: “There
are stories that I felt from the beginning really needed the length of
a book to be able to report and to do justice to, so there’s new
documents, [and] there’s new revelations in the book that I think will
help inform the debate even further.”
The article also says
the book is to be out next month, in May 2014, and has this about
Greenwald's rights, as these are guarded and overseen by the US
Asked about his return to
the US and whether he had expected any government action, Greenwald
said: “I had lawyers working for several months, including many who
have connections at the highest levels of the Justice Department,
trying to get some indication about what the government’s intentions
were if I want to try to return. And they were given no information –
they were completely stonewalled.
“The government wouldn’t
say if there was a grand jury empaneled, if there was an indictment
under seal, if they intended to arrest us. They wanted to keep us in
this state of uncertainty.”
Which is to say that the
government sees and treats him - supposing this to be true, as I think
it is - as their political enemy, quite as Nixon looked on Ellsberg.
There also is this, on what Greenwald thinks about his new book:
Greenwald said the
release of his book would likely lead to more visits back to the US.
“I think the material in
the book which includes a lot of new stories from the Snowden archive
has a lot of impact for the United States,” he said, “and I want to
come back and talk to the people most affected by that story, which are
Also, there is more
information in the article, that in part it also covers the next story.
2. Greenwald: To Be Vilified by Powerful is 'Enormous Badge
The next item is an
article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
Greenwald, who has now received both the George Polk Award and shared
in a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the NSA documents leaked by
whistleblower Edward Snowden, appeared on CNN to discuss the honors for
the first time and said that beyond the vindication those awards have
bestowed on the work of he and his colleagues, it is the continued
attacks by powerful members of the nation's political and intelligence
elite that convinces him that what he's "doing is the right thing."
"That's just part of what
I think journalism is," said
Greenwald to the host of CNN's Reliable Resources Brian
Stetler. "If you want to be adversarial to those wield power, you have
to expect that those who wield power aren't going to like what you're
doing very much. And not only that doesn't that bother me, I see that
as a vindication."
That seems to me to be the
right way of looking at it. The same holds for this:
In his first televised
interview since the Pulitzers were announced Wednesday, Greenwald said
that most important was the recognition by the jury of the coveted
award that the revelations of the mass surveillance program was
journalism done in the service of the public interest.
Yes, indeed - and this
means, I think, that governments who spy on everyone - the
American and English governments, for example - are not
governments that work in the public interest. They work against
seek to enormously increase their own powers, by surveilling
everyone , and by "removing" anyone who
comply enough, in any respect they desire to be complied to (which may
be very much in future governments).
Here is a link to the
3. The UK's response to Snowden's
revelations lets Putin off
The next item is
article by Mark Stephens on The Guardian:
"Our intelligence efforts
are strictly regulated by our law," responded Vladimir Putin to a question from Edward Snowden live on Russia Today. He
added: "We don't have a mass system of such interception, and according
to our law, it cannot exist." The Russian president may as well have
been reading from a UK script.
Earlier this month, David
Cameron welcomed a new report by the UK's lickspittle surveillance watchdog
assuring us that our surveillance laws remain fit for purpose, contrary
to Snowden's disclosures. The
report, by the interceptions of communications commissioner, Sir
Anthony May, says UK agencies do not "engage in random mass intrusion
into the public affairs of law abiding UK citizens", noting that "it
would be comprehensively illegal if they did".
Yes indeed. And to
start with, note how extremely ambiguous May's statement is:
(1) So they do engage in non-random mass intrusion?
(2) So they do
investigate the private
affairs of the public?
(3) What is "law abiding"? Being a non-muslim white Oxford
(4) Yes, "it would be
comprehensively illegal" -
but do they? And if you say "no":
(5) Do you really mean that Snowden and Greenwald and Poitras lie?
Indeed, Mark Stephens
raises the last possibility:
Nor is it easy to
reconcile this statement with the revelations made by Snowden, as to
the collection and retention of data on such a scale that every one of
us is identifiable in all our failings and foibles.
Yes. And he quite
What is urgently needed
is a well-funded, frank investigation of the most worrying of the
Snowden revelations regarding the surveillance practices of GCHQ, such
as the alleged interception of millions of webcam imagesmass from Yahoo users with no
connection to terrorism, and the mass interception of communications
via the fibre-optic cables that pass through the UK through the Tempora
program. Such an investigation must go beyond Ripa and examin data handovers that may be taking place without any
statutory oversight under section 94 of the Telecommunications Act.
Stephens also says:
If there is to be mass
intrusion into our private spaces, then there needs to be a quid pro
quo of informed public debate and informed consent.
I don't think so:
There is to be no "mass
intrusion into our private spaces", also not if 50% + 1 of the least
intelligent approve of this, "democratically", after "having received
some information", at least by my lights, and my reason is
simply that to allow this gives incredible powers to
any government that does survey all and everybody.
Also, a government that
does investigate everyone, and keeps this on tab, to be used for any
purpose at any future time, by any following government, cannot
possibly be democratic, free, or open: Democratic, free and open
societies do not investigate the private affairs of the great
majority of its citizens. Period.
That is only done
in undemocratic, unfree and closed societies, and is indeed what marks
them as undemocratic, unfree and
closed. But this is what the present US and British governments are
doing and claim they want to do, secretively also.
4. Cheer up – a renewed left is coming
The next item is an
article by Guy Standing on The Guardian:
I say. Reallly? I
thought "the left" was destroyed by Thatcher and Reagan, and Blair and
Clinton and their likes? Who even invented The Third Way? And who
reduced everything to soundbytes and manipulations of the few groups
that make for majorities in decently designed sections for the
But Guy Standing, who is a professor of developmental studies in
London, is quite serious and says (jumping 800 years, from 1215 to
Today we need a
precariat charter, a consolidated declaration that will respect the
Magna Carta's 63 articles by encapsulating the needs and aspirations of
the precariat, which consists of millions of people living insecurely,
without occupational identity, doing a vast amount of work that is not
counted, relying on volatile wages without benefits, being supplicants,
dependent on charity, and denizens not citizens, in losing all forms of
At this point, I can say
I do not believe it - but I first have to explain "precariat" which is
a term I did not know, but about which the Wikipedia has this, to start
Also, the term was
created by Guy Standing, it seems, who also wrote a book about the
supposed new class.
First, the precariat. I think it is nonsense to introduce a new class,
and if they do exist, as a class (?!), it is only because the welfare
state has been broken down, which could be (and should be) fairly
Second, the renewed left that is coming: Based on the worst educated,
poorest, and as a rule most stupid or most ignorant members of society?
I'm sorry, but that is either a pipe dream or else quite dishonest. And
again, the repair is obvious and payable, with the right government in
place: Restore the welfare state, and give everyone a basic income that
is sufficient to live decently on.
There is enough money for it, with adequate taxation, also
I could go on, but this is sufficient: I do not believe in Standing's
ideas at all.
5. Knowledge Is Crime Finally,
article by Tom Engelhardt
This starts by
considering the possibility that general James Cartwright might be
prosecuted and convicted for doing things many more in in the US
government do, which hasn't happened yet, and then says:
to him, his ongoing case highlights a singular fact: that there is but
one crime for which anyone in America’s national security state can be
held accountable in a court of law, and that’s leaking information that
might put those in it in a bad light or simply let the American public
know something more about what its government is really doing.
If this weren't
Washington 2014, but rather George Orwell’s novel 1984, then
the sign emblazoned on the front of the Ministry of Truth -- “War is
Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” -- would have to be
amended to add a fourth slogan: Knowledge is Crime.
And then it prepares a
list of things governmental executives ansd appointees can do, these
days, and does so in 4 pages (in the Truth Dig version, which I link to
because I can't get a working link to just this item on Engelhardt's
Here is a list of those things, prepared under the title of
Free Passes for the National Security State
but they are here given without
the extensive comments and clarifications, which you should read if
In any case, here are the things a US government official now can
do without having to worry about the law, whether of the US or
any other country:
Kidnapping Torture (and other abuses) The planning of an extralegal prison system The killing of detainees in that extralegal system Assassination Perjury
before Congress Too Big to Fail, National Security-Style
As I said, these are
just titles: There is a considerable amount of text for each in
Engelhardt's original, and they all are explained.
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.)
do consult Wikipedia - nearly always the English edition - some 20
times a day, on average, I think, and I got the information of "the
second days" also from that source. I don't think Wikipedia is perfect,
sometimes is biased, e.g. about ME/CFS, but overall I like it a lot.
Again, I insert that the governments have the right to spy on some
people, but only if there is a good probable cause that they broke the
law. And I add that no government has the right to survey and
gather everyone's personal data, on the presumption that they may,
might, could or can break some law. That makes everyone into criminals,
against whom information is gathered, to be used against them, in case
the eventuality arises, in some future.
(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: