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Nederlog


  May
15, 2014
Crisis: USA, spying, Greenwald, Privacy, Miller, 500th crisis report
   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















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Sections
Introduction

1. The official US position on the NSA is still unlimited
     eavesdropping power

2. Spying Is Meant to Crush Citizens’ Dissent, Not Catch
     Terrorists

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
6. The 500th crisis report

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of May 15. It is a fairly ordinary crisis issue, but it also is number 500 in 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.


1. The official US position on the NSA is still unlimited eavesdropping power

The first item is an article by Jameel Jaffer - the deputy legal director of the ACLU - on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

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.

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 illegal in terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; that also is a piece 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.

Then there is this:

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 it all".

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 persons who lack the enormous luck to be born in the exceptionalist USA.

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 changes 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 Terrorists

The 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:

First, mass 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: propaganda 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 on everyone.

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:

The indefinite 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 them, 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 the article:

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’

The 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 uniquely capable of unleashing? Or will it bring about a system of omnipresent monitoring and control, beyond the dreams of even the greatest tyrants of the past?”

Probably both. But it is the essential question raised in the aftermath of Edward 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 journalist 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 Snowden is a villain or a martyr, Greenwald asks readers to consider this important 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:

An interesting feature of Greenwald’s book is his cynical and distrustful view of the establishment media — timid, risk-averse, obedient to the government, and, he concluded, guilty of a corrupting dynamic unworthy of the constitutional protection it enjoys. If the press allows the government to control or “neuter” its adversarial relationship, Greenwald posits, it sacrifices its essential raison d’etre.

I agree with Greenwald, and would probably not call his views "cynical", simply because they have been amply justified.

The review ends like so:

Whatever else anyone thinks about Edward Snowden, and Glenn Greenwald, as well, they have forced the public to ask itself what kind of world it wants to live in, how important privacy is, what kind of First and Fourth amendments they wish to endorse and enforce, and the level of surveillance they would countenance (without reasonable checks and balances) to monitor it.

Greenwald argues that question should be decided by the public, not by elites acting unchecked. His book is a persuasive brief for that position.

4. My Device Is Me. GCHQ – Stop Hacking Me.

The next item is an article by Eric King, who is the deputy director of Privacy International (see: yesterday's crisis report) on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

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”.

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.

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.

In these 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. 
Yes, indeed, although a few have given such considerations, but indeed not many.
It ends like this:

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 paying customers?".

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.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

5. Remember Henry Miller? Censored Then, Forgotten Now

The next item is an article by
Arthur Hoyle on Huffington Post:
This 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.
Let me 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:
Miller's banned 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.

6. 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 English.

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 parties 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 poor anymore.

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.
---------------------------------
Note
[1] 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 government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
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 quote from is quite pertinent.)

About ME/CFS (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:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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