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. The official US position on
the NSA is still unlimited
2. Spying Is Meant to Crush
Citizens’ Dissent, Not Catch
3. CapitaLetters Review of
‘No Place to Hide’
4. My Device Is Me. GCHQ –
Stop Hacking Me.
5. Remember Henry Miller?
Censored Then, Forgotten Now
500th crisis report
This is the Nederlog of May
15. It is a fairly ordinary crisis issue, but it also is number 500
the crisis series, that got started on September 1,
2008. The last item is a brief reflection on that fact.
Here is the summary: Jameel Jaffer reflects on the insufficiency of
proposed legislation against the spying of the NSA; Washington's Blog
clarifies what spying is for (not for catching terrorists, but for
crushing dissent); CapitaLetters reviews Greenwald's latest book; Eric
King objects against the spying of the GCHQ; and the fifth item is not
on the crisis but about Henry Miller, and is mostly here because I
found it today and liked it, and wrote about Miller before in Nederlog.
official US position on the NSA is still unlimited eavesdropping
The first item is
article by Jameel Jaffer - the deputy legal director of the ACLU - on
This starts as follows:
And the law that "permits the government to monitor Americans'
international communications without first obtaining individualized
court orders or establishing any suspicion of wrongdoing" I can only
describe as a fascist piece of shit, that is grossly
terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; that also is a
of exceptionalism; and that "legalizes" spying on everyone
without any cause - which is my reason to style this
as "fascist": I really do not know any other adequate term.
Modern American privacy
law begins with Charles Katz, an accused gambler, making a call from a
Los Angeles phone booth. In a
now-famous opinion, Justice John Marshall Harlan concluded that the
US Constitution protected Katz's "expectation of privacy" in his call.
American phone booths are now a thing of the past, of course, and
Americans' expectations of privacy seem to be fast disappearing, too.
In two significant but
almost-completely overlooked legal briefs filed last week, the US
government defended the constitutionality of the Fisa Amendments Act,
the controversial 2008 law that codified the Bush administration's
warrantless-wiretapping program. That law permits the government to
monitor Americans' international communications without first obtaining
individualized court orders or establishing any suspicion of wrongdoing.
Then there is this:
Again I say this is a
fascist law - and see above - that seeks to
defend fascist privileges for the very few
that work for the U.S. government or its private contractors: These
are allowed to spy on anyone, and especially on all
lack the enormous luck to be born in the exceptionalist USA.
What's surprising – even
remarkable – is what the government says on the way to its conclusion.
It says, in essence, that the Constitution is utterly indifferent to
the NSA's large-scale surveillance of Americans' international
telephone calls and emails:
The privacy rights of
US persons in international communications are significantly
diminished, if not completely eliminated, when those
communications have been transmitted to or obtained from non-US persons
located outside the United States.
That phrase – "if not
completely eliminated" – is unusually revealing. Think of it
as the Justice Department's twin to the NSA's "collect
By international laws, also signed by the US, the "The privacy rights of US persons in
international communications are" NOT "significantly diminished" and they are also NOT "completely eliminated", and NOT at all, in both cases.
But yes, I agree it makes sense to think of this as the DoJ's "twin to the NSA's "collect
it all", simply because
that is the aim and that is the current practice.
There is more there, and the piece ends with Jameel Jaffer's estimate
of what is called misleadingly "the USA Freedom Act":
While the current
version of the reform bill, the USA Freedom Act, would make some necessary
to a handful of surveillance laws, it would not narrow the surveillance
powers granted by the 2008 law. Nor would it narrow the surveillance
powers the NSA derives from the presidential directive that regulates
the NSA's surveillance activities outside the United States.
Quite so. For more, see item 6.
2. Spying Is Meant to Crush Citizens’
Dissent, Not Catch
next item is an article by Washington's Blog on his blog:
This starts as
follows, and the colors and bolding are in the original:
The Big Secret Behind the Spying Program
While many Americans
understand why the NSA is conducting mass surveillance of U.S.
citizens, some are still confused about what’s really going on.
In his new book, No Place
to Hide, Glenn Greenwald writes:
The perception that
invasive surveillance is confined only to a marginalised and deserving
group of those “doing wrong” – the bad people – ensures that the
majority acquiesces to the abuse of power or even cheers it on. But
that view radically misunderstands what goals drive all institutions of
authority. “Doing something wrong” in the eyes of such institutions
encompasses far more than illegal acts, violent behaviour and terrorist
plots. It typically extends to meaningful dissent and any
genuine challenge. It is the nature of authority to equate
dissent with wrongdoing, or at least with a threat.
The record is suffused
with examples of groups and individuals being placed under government
surveillance by virtue of their dissenting views and activism –
Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, anti-war
activists, environmentalists. In the eyes of the government
and J Edgar Hoover’s FBI, they were all “doing something wrong”: political
activity that threatened the prevailing order.
There is considerably
more quoted from Glenn Greenwald, but this is the essence:
surveillance serves the interest of the government to keep the powers
it has and to neutralize - lie about, arrest, kill - anyone who
disagrees with the government's persons or policies in any significant
way, and this extends to preventing dissent to arise by any
means - "Deny/Disrupt/Degrade/Deceive"
- legal or illegal, fair or
foul: everything is allowed to a government's secret agents.
Second, this was the
dominant purpose of mass surveillance anyway, from the beginning, and
indeed from the 1960ies onwards: See my Crisis:
and Control: Brezezinski 1968 from 2012: All appeal to the "war on
terrorism" was and is pretext, and in fact opened the gate for spying
Third, the powers if
the NSA are far greater than the powers of the KGB or the
Stasi: it is now for the first time possible to spy on almost
everyone almost everywhere almost all the time; to store what they do;
and to use it against them, quite possibly in secret courts and
for undisclosed reasons, and also quite possibly without
appearing in any court, ever: Bush Jr.'s and Obama's governments can
and have locked up people indefinitely, and without courts.
There is also this:
And it’s not just spying …
The government may treat
anyone who challenges its policies as
terrorists. For example:
detention law may be used against American dissenters.
Specifically, the trial judge in the lawsuit challenging the law had
asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists
like Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges could be indefinitely
detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad
guys. The government refused to promise
that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest
of their lives without any right to talk to a judge.
Which means that the
US government behaves as terrorists who may brand anyone who opposes
also if they do that by mere words alone, or as mere honest
journalists, as terrorists, and threatens to lock them up forever
without trial, which again is a threat with an act of terror.
Here is the ending of
Daniel Ellsberg notes
that Obama’s claim of power to indefinitely detain people without
charges or access to a lawyer or the courts is a power that even King
George – the guy we fought the Revolutionary War against – didn’t claim.
(And former judge and adjunct professor of constitutional law Andrew
Napolitano points out that Obama’s claim that he can indefinitely
detain prisoners even after they are acquitted of their crimes
is a power
that even Hitler
and Stalin didn’t claim.)
And the former top NSA
official who created NSA’s mass surveillance system says, “We
are now in a police state“.
I think so too, but
yes: it is not serious, yet, but it may rapidly grow a lot worse.
3. CapitaLetters Review of ‘No Place to Hide’
next item is an article by Ronald Goldfarb on Truthdig:
This starts as
follows, and is indeed a review of Glenn Greenwald's latest book:
“We stand at a historic
crossroads. Will the digital age
usher in the
individual liberation and political freedoms that the Internet is
of unleashing? Or will it bring about a system of omnipresent
and control, beyond the dreams of even the greatest tyrants of the
both. But it is the essential question raised in the aftermath of
Snowden’s notorious exposure of our government’s policies of
surveillance in its
response to the awful terrorist acts of 9/11, according to freelance
and lawyer-author Glenn Greenwald, author of the just-released No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the
U.S. Surveillance State. While the world debates whether
a villain or a martyr, Greenwald asks readers to consider this
assessment of current policies.
Actually, I think
"Probably both" is the wrong answer, at least when
"simultaneously" is added: it cannot be both, at the same time
and the same place.
There is a
considerable amount more on what Greenwald's book is about, that I
leave to your interests, and then there is this:
interesting feature of Greenwald’s book is his cynical and distrustful
the establishment media — timid, risk-averse, obedient to the
government, and, he
concluded, guilty of a corrupting dynamic unworthy of the
protection it enjoys. If the press allows the government to control or
its adversarial relationship, Greenwald posits, it sacrifices its
I agree with
Greenwald, and would probably not call his views "cynical", simply
because they have been amply justified.
The review ends like
else anyone thinks about Edward Snowden, and Glenn Greenwald, as well,
forced the public to ask itself what kind of world it wants to live in,
important privacy is, what kind of First and Fourth amendments they
endorse and enforce, and the level of surveillance they would
reasonable checks and balances) to monitor it.
argues that question should be decided by the public, not by elites
unchecked. His book is a persuasive brief for that position.
Is Me. GCHQ – Stop Hacking Me.
This starts as follows:
next item is an article by Eric King, who is the deputy director of
Privacy International (see: yesterday's
crisis report) on Common Dreams:
Yes indeed - and I suppose “Active SIGINT” also covers their
techniques to Deny/Disrupt/Degrade/Deceive anyone - and his or her
family, friends and associates, all in secret, by secret agents - who
may oppose the present government's policies or persons in any
way that the goverment or its bureaucrats do not like.
Spy agencies have long
sought to turn the technologies that improve all our lives against us.
From some of the very first forms of remote communications such as
telegraph cables, to modern-day means like Skype: if the spies can
exploit it, they will.
And, as we’ve learnt over
the last few months, the computer and mobile devices that millions of
us own and carry around with us every day are no exception to this rule.
Our smart phones and
laptops, devices that have changed how we communicate and interact,
remember and record, and express and relate in the modern world, have
become prime targets of GCHQ and the NSA. These intelligence agencies
have developed hacking techniques they call “Active SIGINT” (signals
intelligence), which NSA documents explain “offers a more aggressive
approach to SIGINT. We retrieve data through intervention in our
targets’ computers or network devices. Extract data from machine.”
These new capabilities to infect our devices with intrusive malware
have allowed GCHQ to “exploit any phone, anywhere, any time”; the spies
boast “if it’s on the phone, we can get it”.
Next, there is this:
With all the
debate around the mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward
Snowden, there has been little debate around the legitimacy of
State-sponsored hacking. Given there exists no clear legal authority to
justify such intrusion, Privacy International has today filed a legal complaint demanding an end to the unlawful hacking being carried out by GCHQ.
This I reviewed
yesterday: see items 2 and 3. I decided I like it, and you can fid
some interesting links yesterday.
There is also this:
In allowing GCHQ
to extract a huge amount of information, and to turn an individual’s
own devices against them by co-opting the devices as instruments of
video and audio surveillance, it is at least as intrusive as searching
a person’s house and installing bugs so as to enable continued
monitoring. In fact, it is more intrusive, because of the amount of
information now generated and stored by computers and mobile devices,
the speed, ease and surreptitiousness with which surveillance can be
conducted, and because it allows the ongoing surveillance to continue
wherever the affected person may be.
Yes, indeed, although a
few have given such considerations, but indeed not many.
circumstances any justification would have to be extremely specific and
compelling in order to render that activity proportionate. Regrettably,
no such consideration has been given to this in public debate. Secret
action, on the basis of secret policy, is the order of the day.
It ends like this:
There is considerably
more under the last dotted link.
Our devices are
increasingly becoming an extension of who we are as individuals; they
are mediums in which we remember things, express ourselves, create and
maintain relationships, and interact in the modern world. To the likes
of GCHQ and other intelligence agencies, however, our devices are
merely a means of turning us into “targets”, dehumanising us and those
we connect with. It is this hacking that deeply intrudes on our private
lives, which are increasingly lived on our phones and computers.
This contempt is
exemplified in one NSA document published by Der Spiegel, in which the agency jeers, “Who knew in 1984 that
this [smart phones] would be Big Brother and the zombies would be
At Privacy International,
we don’t believe our smart phones should be hijacked to serve Big
Brother and we’re not zombies.
We’re citizens with
rights, and we’re fighting back.
Henry Miller? Censored Then, Forgotten Now
next item is an article by Arthur Hoyle on Huffington Post:
starts as follows:
From the date of
publication in Paris of his breakout novel Tropic of Cancer,
the American author Henry Miller faced a career long struggle against
the censorship and suppression of his most important works. Although he
enjoyed a brief period of celebrity and notoriety in the 1960s and
1970s after his banned books were finally published in the US, today,
more than thirty years after his death, he remains a marginalized and
largely forgotten American writer. This despite the fact that Miller
was one of the twentieth century's most prolific and provocative
authors whose writing and literary example influenced many well-known
writers who followed him, including Jack Kerouac, Lawrence
Ferlinghetti, Norman Mailer, Phillip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Paul
Theroux, and Erica Jong, not to mention such pop culture icons as Bob
Dylan and the Beatles.
start with saying Arthur Hoyle is the author of "The Unknown Henry
Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur", that I did not know about and never
read, but that did get good reviews by Erica Jong, whose book on Miller
I have read; by Miller's son Tony; and by others.
And the above assessment seems correct. Further down (skipping rather a
lot) there is this paragraph on what makes Miller really worthwile:
books were not published in the United States until 1961. By then he
was seventy years old and pretty much written out. The literary uproar
lasted three years, put Miller's books on bestseller lists, brought him
fame and, for the first time in his life, financial security. But
though the US Supreme Court ruled in June 1964 that Miller's banned
books were not obscene, Miller drew no satisfaction from this finding
because he knew that American readers were consuming his books for
their sensationalistic elements and missing the liberating message of
deliverance from hypocrisy and shame that lay behind them. In a 1972
interview with Digby Diehl published in the Los Angeles Times
Miller confessed, "More and more I've grown disgusted with my readers.
I revealed everything about myself, and I find that they're interested
in this sensational life. But I was trying to give them more than
that." What he was trying to give us through his writing and his
example was the path to individual freedom ⎯ spiritual freedom, not
political freedom ⎯ a path that must be followed into the dark depths
of the soul if one is to ascend to the realm of the angels.
Yes, indeed: Miller was
both an anarchist and a mystic, and while parts of his books are
pornographic (the "sensationalistic
elements") other parts are
mystical ("the liberating
message"), and indeed it
was especially the mystical element that Miller sought to share.
Also, the pornography - here described simply and objectively as: "the
explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter" - was there because Miller
wrote almost solely about himself and his adventures, and honesty
demanded it, although it is absent from the book he thought his best, "The
Colossus of Maroussi".
I like Miller, whom I first read when I was 27 or 28, especially
because he is a good writer (sometimes, not always) and because he is a
mystic. I liked the pornography as well, but that was not my
reason for reading him, and indeed also was plentifully and
unproblematically available in considerably more explicit forms at the
time of my first reading him, in Amsterdam.
Finally, about his being forgotten now. This is and isn't so, and I
explain some of my reasons why I think so.
It is so, especially because he was a really good writer, at least
sometimes, also when compared with quite a few American writers who are
better known than he is: Miller is usually more lively and more
personal; and because he wrote rather a lot that was widely read from
the thirties till the seventies, that is - it would now seem - in so
far as the "sensationalistic elements" were concerned, that indeed may have
been so ("sensationalistic"), between 1934 and 1964. And indeed I would have
expected in 1980, when Miller died aged 88 and I had read most of his
books, that he would be better known 25 and more years onwards, but it
is true that he wasn't and isn't.
It isn't so, because there still are things organized around
his name, and there still is a journal dedicated to him and his work,
while there also are some interesting sites about him and his work,
some of which you can find in Nederlog: he may be little read today,
but there still are some who do read him.
Finally, it is so, again, in part because of feminism: Within six years
of the U.S. legal decision that his works were not obscene, Kate
Millett had made him out as a fine example of an extreme misogynist,
which was total bullshit, like much of what Millett wrote, but that did
get taken up fairly widely in feminist and academic circles.
But yes: Miller at present is mostly forgotten, first because his work
was forbidden as obscene for thirty years, next because the same work
was then considered misogynist, and finally because it does include
pornographic passages that are probably still not easily and naturally
treated when lecturing on American Literature.
The 500th crisis report
Actually, the title of this item is incorrect: There
were eleven items numbered 226, because I decided to add some files to the crisis
series that had not been originally included. This means I wrote 510 crisis reports since
September 1, 2008, when it all started, in Dutch, that remained the
case for the first 82 items, since when it is all or almost all in
What shall I say? I will make only two points, if only because I wrote
quite a lot today already.
First, the crisis is not over. I think so
anyway, but so did spokespersons for no less than four Dutch political
today, which amazed me a little bit, but then these spokespersons want
to be re-elected again, and you cannot assure the many poor (in Dutch
terms, to be sure) that now that the shares have gone up they are not
Second, there are two very important aspects of it, especially in the
U.S., but with repercussions everywhere: Getting money out of
politics in the U.S., where in fact the few with money now control
almost everything, and keeping net neutrality, because the
internet is the main tool to organize things, regardless of its illegal
abuse by the NSA, GCHQ etc.
Here is a video of The Young Turks in which Cenk Uygur and two others
discuss these two things:
The brief of it is:
There still are some opportunities to get money out of politics and to
retain net neutrality, but it has to happen soon.
 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: