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."
No Place to Hide review – Glenn Greenwald's compelling
2. NSA to test legal limits on
surveillance if USA Freedom
Act becomes law
3. Data Pirates of the Caribbean:
The NSA Is Recording
Every Cell Phone Call in the
4. Cisco CEO Berates Obama
for NSA Surveillance
5. A Deep Dive into the House's
Version of Narrow NSA
Reform: The New USA Freedom Act
6. 25-Year-Old Occupy Protester
Sentenced To 3 Months In
Prison. She Could Have Gotten
7. “It’s total moral surrender”:
Matt Taibbi unloads on Wall
Street, inequality and our
broken justice system
This is the Nederlog of May
20. It is an ordinary crisis issue.
I again will not summarize, but merely say this contains quite a few
interesting (links to) articles. See especially item 3,
item 4 and item 7.
No Place to Hide review – Glenn Greenwald's compelling account of
The first item is
article by Henry Porter on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Greenwald appeared on Newsnight
last October to argue the case for the Snowden revelations on a link
from Brazil, the presenter that evening, Kirsty Wark, popped into the
green room to have a word with the other guests on the show, one of
whom was Pauline Neville-Jones, formerly chair of the Joint
Intelligence Committee. The interview, she apparently told them, would
show that Greenwald was just "a campaigner and an activist", a phrase
she later used disparagingly on air.
To start with, while I
agree Greenwald is smart, unyielding and liberal, I do like to
say he is an "outsider" because so many "journalists" of these
including the totally talentless Kirsty Wark, sold out to Tony
Blair or whoever else is in power. (See also item 7
on the type.)
And so the BBC went after
the man, not the story. However, on this occasion, the man held his own
rather well, roasting Wark and Neville-Jones with remorseless trial
lawyer logic, making them look ill-prepared and silly in the process.
At the time, I remember thinking that Edward Snowden
had chosen exactly the right person for the job of chief advocate – a
smart, unyielding, fundamentalist liberal outsider.
Here is the last bit on Wikipedia on Wark (minus notes):
In October 2013 on
the BBC's Newsnight, Wark interviewed Guardian journalist
Glenn Greenwald about his reporting of the
NSA and GCHQ cyber-spying programs leaked by
Yes, quite so - and this
really is a total betrayal of real journalism.
The interview was seen as openly hostile in which "Wark unabashedly
made the case for the prosecution, interrogating Greenwald about his
reporting and Edward Snowden."
Greenwald later wrote that Wark and other journalists have focused
"almost entirely on the process questions surrounding the reporting
rather than the substance of the revelations" about NSA surveillance
and privacy invasions "and in the process made some quite dubious
claims that come straight from the mouths of government officials."
Henry Porter continues the previous quotation as follows:
Some of these
characteristics made me wonder if his account of the Snowden affair
would be one long harangue, but No Place to Hide is clearly
written and compelling. Though I have been writing about the war on
liberty for nearly a decade, I found that reacquainting myself with the
details of surveillance and
intrusion by America's NSA and Britain's GCHQ was simply shocking.
OK, and indeed it is "simply shocking"
to find out that everybody's personal private data have been hijacked
- stolen, falsely appropriated "because they can do it"
- by - what seem to me - some total moral degenerates who live very
well-paid nearly completely hidden
lives as spies, and who spy on everyone, as if that
is their job and their calling.
Then there is this:
liberty are not synonyms and what Greenwald's book reminds us is that
we may well end up as a series of hollowed-out, faux democracies, where
the freedoms that we grew up with vanish almost unnoticed, like the
extinction of a species of migrant bird.
I say. In fact, I would
say that we do live in "faux democracies, where the freedoms that we grew up with" have "vanish[ed]
almost unnoticed", since everybody's personal and
private data have been sucked up by a couple of
thousands of degenerate governmental spies, freaks or idiots without
Then he says:
The irony of
Snowden's actions is that he may have hastened the chill. There are now
legitimate things that many of us will never express in private,
unencrypted emails or look up on the web because of surveillance.
I am sorry?! It is Snowden's
fault that Henry Porter can't visit his favorite porn-sites (or
whatever he did that he doesn't do any more)?! This is "irony"?
Listen: Snowden told what is happening. He should not
be blamed for other men's piracies of your privacy, your data,
and your freedoms.
Then there is this:
I read No
Place to Hide wondering how we let the spies probe our lives with
such inadequate controls, and how on earth we fell for the propaganda
that this massive apparatus was there to protect, not control, us.
Well, here are three
prominent reasons, which I think are not that difficult to
(1) Half of the people have IQs under 100 and really have no
idea about what computers can do, what programming is, what spies do,
etc. - but they are now nearly all, in the West at least,
active anonymously on internet and Facebook. (There you have your
"democratic majority" for virtually anything. Most of them feel thankful
for getting personalized ads! Almost none of them is capable of
understanding rational ideas, and most are not interested
(2) Most of the "journalists" these days are not journalists
anymore but are the purveyors of propaganda and
anyone who pays their monthly checks.
(3) Very many of the secrets of the NSA, the GCHQ etc. are still secret, and the NSA, the GCHQ etc. are still
protected, mostly successfully, by their governments, whose
spokesmen assure us they are o so very full of democracy and the milk
of human kindness.
But OK - this may be too difficult for ordinary journalists to think
The last two paragraphs are as follows. First, there is this:
One of the
depressing parts of last summer in Britain was the failure of the
quality press and the broadcasting media to react to Snowden and
Greenwald is rightly contemptuous of the journalists on both sides of
the Atlantic who act as proxies for authority – better an activist
journalist than a lackey anytime. But let me just say I think the
book does a disservice to my colleagues at the Guardian,
which after all is established media. The author tips his hat
occasionally but does not really acknowledge the importance of the
seasoned reporter Ewen
MacAskill's work in Hong Kong, or the team that assembled to sift
the documents, decode their inner secrets, prioritise information, gain
reaction, shape the stories and provide analysis.
I agree with Porter's
agreement with Greenwald on ordinary "journalists", who in vast
majority these days act and speak as if they are the purveyors of propaganda and
anyone who pays their monthly checks.
Then - not having read Greenwald's book - I am a bit doubtful about
Porter's claim that Greenwald does not really acknowledge the
importance of Ewen MacAskill's work nor of "the team that assembled" at
I am doubtful, because Greenwald is the man who was selected by
Snowden and because Greenwald and Poitras made the
interview with him, and it is Greenwald and Poitras who wrote most
about Snowden, and who also risked the most, apart from Snowden.
It is possible he should have said a little more than he did - I don't
know, and I also don't think it very important, simply because what I
said in the last paragraph is true, and indeed I could have added that
Greenwald and Poitras played with their lives, which I do not
think holds for the journalists of The Guardian.
Here is the conclusion, that I think is twisted:
It was one of the
most impressive journalistic operations I have ever seen and without it
Glenn Greenwald would have floundered and, indeed, have been dismissed
more easily as an activist journalist. He has done a great job of
exposition and advocacy and for that he should be praised, but credit
should be shared.
This is twisted because
without Glenn Greenwald The Guardian would have had nothing specific to
publish about the NSA or the GCHQ. It is true that they gave Greenwald
a job; true that while having the job there he was contacted
by Snowden; and true that Greenwald did get a lot of cooperation of the
Guardian - but to say that without The Guardian's assistance "Glenn Greenwald would have floundered and,
indeed, have been dismissed more easily as an activist journalist"
seems false to me: He could and would have shared his material
with others, such as The Washington Post, The New York Times,
ProPublica, Der Spiegel or others.
Also: What is wrong with being "an activist journalist"
- in a world where most "journalists" are activist propagandizers
relations folks, that
is: utterly dishonest deceivers, for their
So no: I do not think this is a fair appreciation, though Mr Porter may be speaking just for
himself. And I do not think it is fair, because while it may be true
that Greenwald might have said a bit more in praise of The Guardian,
especially the last bit is completely twisted.
NSA to test legal limits on surveillance if USA Freedom
Act becomes law
next item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as
In a secured room beneath
the US Capitol last week, legislative aides working
to finalize a bill intended to constrain the National Security
Agency attempted to out-think a battery of lawyers working for the
Obama administration and the intelligence services.
The NSA’s track record of
interpreting its surveillance powers to the legal breaking point has
been hanging over the ongoing debate about the surveillance
reform bill known as the USA
Freedom Act, the first post-9/11 effort to constrain the agency
that has a realistic chance at passage.
Those behind the
legislation, which is expected to head to the House floor as early as
this week, have labored to craft the terms of the bill in a way that
avoids loopholes for the NSA to exploit. But some wonder whether the
agency will lawyer the bill’s restrictions on bulk data collection into
oblivion, as recent statements by Obama administration officials have
suggested it might.
Yes indeed - and
besides: The NSA has been gathering data on all the people in Congress
since 2001 at least, and it may well have found many things to
blackmail these people in Congress with.
There is rather a lot more in the article that I leave to you, although
it does not mention the real possibility I mentioned in the previous
paragraph - that I agree is vague, simply because no one outside the
NSA really knows
what the NSA knows or will do.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in
next item is an article by Ryan Deveraux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura
Poitras on The Intercept:
This starts as
The National Security
Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of
virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the
According to documents
provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part
of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was
implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian
government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally
obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network,
enabling it to covertly record and store the “full-take audio” of every
mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay
those calls for up to a month.
SOMALGET is part of a
broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly
monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other
countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while
MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called “metadata”
– information that reveals the time, source, and destination of
calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to
vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an
There is a lot
in the article, and it seems safe to assume that the Bahamas, which has
400.00 inhabitants, all of whom now are pirated information
from by the NSA, is mostly a test-run to find out whether SOMALGET can
do the same for larger countries.
Berates Obama for NSA Surveillance
next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows,
under a picture of NSA folks opening Cisco tools to "implant
surveillance beacons" that is from Glenn Greenwald/Nowhere to Hide:
revelations contained in Glenn Greenwald's latest book that the NSA
intercepted and installed surveillance spyware on Cisco computers while
in transit, the CEO of the computer company has personally interceded,
sending President Obama a letter calling for government restraint on
its surveillance policies.
Yes, indeed. There is
more in the original that makes it clear Cisco's sales are significantly
less - so yes: Chambers' letter does
make economical sense.
"We simply cannot operate
this way, our customers trust us to be able to deliver to their
doorsteps products that meet the highest standards of integrity and
security," said Cisco CEO John Chambers in the letter dated May 15 but
first reported Sunday.
Referring to various
allegations presented in reports based on documents leaked by NSA
whistleblower Edward Snowden about government efforts to create
backdoor surveillance channels with global communication networks and
inside specific products, Chambers told Obama that such behavior is
doing tremendous harm to U.S. companies.
"If these allegations are
true," Chambers' letter continued, "these actions will undermine
confidence in our industry and in the ability of technology companies
to deliver products globally."
5. A Deep Dive into the House's Version of Narrow NSA Reform:
The New USA Freedom Act
next item is an article by Mark Jaycox on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
NSA reform is
finally moving in Congress. Last year, Senator Patrick Leahy and
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the USA
Freedom Act, one of the first comprehensive bills to address
multiple aspects of the NSA's spying. The Senate version has languished
since October, but last week the House Judiciary Committee (chaired by
Rep. Bob Goodlatte) introduced and passed out of committee a heavily
rewritten House version. As a result, two versions of the USA Freedom
Act exist: the narrowed House version and the more encompassing Senate
version. The movement in the House is a good indication that Congress
is still engaged with NSA reform, but the House's bill must be
strengthened and clarified to ensure that it accomplishes one of its
main intentions: ending mass collection.
The article is by a
policy analyst and legislative assistant to the Electronic
Here's how the House
version of the USA Freedom Act compares to the Senate's version, what
the new House version of the USA Freedom Act does, and what it sorely
Frontier Foundation. It is also a bit technical, but that cannot be
Occupy Protester Sentenced To 3 Months In Prison. She Could Have Gotten
next item is an article by Erika Eichelberger on Mother Jones:
starts as follows:
25-year-old Cecily McMillan became one of the only Occupy Wall Street
protesters to face serious jail time when a jury convicted her of assaulting a police officer. Her
conviction has sparked outrage amongst progressives because McMillan
alleges she involuntarily elbowed NYPD officer Grantley Bovell after he
grabbed her breast, and because the judge refused to admit as evidence in the trial certain
accusations of police brutality against Bovell and other cops the night
of the incident. Assaulting an officer, a felony offense, carries a
sentence of between two and seven years of prison time.
rather a lot more (and none to clear, I thought) but the main reason it
is here is that Cecily
McMillan got three months. That seems still quite unfair to me, but it
is not the seven years she risked.
total moral surrender”: Matt Taibbi unloads on Wall Street, inequality
and our broken justice system
for today, an article by Elias Isquith on Salon:
This starts as follows:
And this is a good
interview, that I recommend you read all of. Here is what the book that
caused this interview is about:
His relentless coverage
of Wall Street malfeasance turned him into one of the most influential
journalists of his generation, but in his new book, “The
Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap,” Matt
Taibbi takes a close and dispiriting look at how inequality and
government dysfunction have created a two-tiered justice system in
which most Americans are guilty until proven innocent, while a select
few operate with no accountability whatsoever.
Salon sat down last week
with Taibbi for a wide-ranging chat that touched on his new book, the
lingering effects of the financial crisis, how American elites operate
with impunity and why, contrary to what many may think, he’s actually
making a conservative argument for reform. The interview
can be found below, and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
In fact, it would seem
to me as if "The Injustice" might have been the better term,
since the book seems to be about the fundamental injustice that some of
the richest persons and some of the richest corporations can be as
criminal as they please without risking any prosecution,
whereas everybody who is not rich
So, what is “The
The book is really just
about why some people go to jail and why some people don’t go to jail,
and “the divide” is the term I came up with to describe this phenomenon
we have where there are essentially two different criminal justice
systems, one that works one way for people who are either very rich or
working within the confines of a giant systemically important
institution, and then one that works in another way for people who are
without means. And that’s what the book is about.
can go many years to prison for "crimes" like selling marijuana or
elbowing a policeman who was clad in civil clothes and grabbed her
But OK - that indeed is the main topic. Here is Taibbi:
So, yeah, that’s
exactly what the situation is. We have companies that are essentially
beyond the reach of what we would traditionally think of as the law,
which is a crazy concept because, even back in the ’70s, it was
reinforced in every American’s mind that even the president
could be dragged into a criminal case. And now, we can’t even conceive
of taking Lloyd Blankfein to court for lying to Congress.
Note this also is a
fairly long interview, of which I am only quoting a few things. Here is
Taibbi on the complete moral failure of both the system and the folks
who run it:
It’s exactly as
you said, the justification essentially becomes: shit happens. And
that’s crazy. It’s total moral surrender, and just like the torture
issue, there’s the “How can you judge if you weren’t there?” idea. I
mean, that takes away our ability to judge anything if that
justification holds. That’s just crazy.
Yes, indeed (for if only
those who were there when it happened can adequately judge what
happened, then you should stop judging, in courts and in general).
Besides, there is also this fact: Precisely the big criminals, or
people who worked in leading positions for the criminal banks, were
asked to solve the problems they created to start with:
Exactly — they
brought in all the people who had helped to repeal the Glass-Steagall
Act, who helped push through the Commodity
Futures Modernization Act. Not only did they create too-big-to-fail
essentially through the Gramm–Leach–Bliley
Act but they … greatly accelerated the financialization of the
economy with the total deregulation of the derivatives market. And
these are the people you’re going to bring back to sit in judgment of
what went on? They were the people who are screwing up to begin with —
exactly the people you don’t want to have looking at this
But hey! You should
Trust ObamaTM and Trust PelosiTM and Trust The Millionaires Who Are
DemocratsTM! Really now! At least, that is what Obama, Pelosi and
Here is Taibbi again on the morals involved:
doesn’t work anymore. You just cannot have a society where people
instinctively know that certain people are above the law, because it
will create total disrespect for authority among everybody else. And
that’s completely corrosive. You need to have people believing in the
system to some degree — even if it’s just an illusion, you need to have
them believing. And that was … another thing I was trying to get
to in this book, the difference between what happened in the Bush
years, with the scandals with Adelphi and Enron and Tyco, and what
happened now, [when] they just stopped seeing the necessity of keeping
up appearances. They didn’t even make a few symbolic prosecutions, and
so it leaves the entire public with this glaring statistic that there
were no prosecutions and there was massive crime. How does that make
anybody else feel? How does it make you feel when you pay a speeding
ticket, you can’t write that off, but HSBC can write off its $1.9
billion fine for drug trafficking?
Actually, I do not know
whether "[y]ou need to
have people believing in the system to some degree" at least on the
All you need is a strong police and total information about what
everybody thinks, feels and wants, and you can repress everybody who
deviates - and that seems to be the system that is now in
to Obama: "Yes, We Scan!", though the plan was there already in 1969.
Indeed, that also would explain why "they just stopped seeing the necessity of keeping up
They know everything about anyone, in principle; they
have militarized the police; they have succeeded in exchanging most
real journalists for purveyors of government propaganda,
and now have "TV News" were only very small bits of mostly irrelevant
things are treated; and they can lock up everyone indefinitely without
letting him or her see any lawyer or face any court.
So why should they try to keep up appearances? Well, perhaps to
keep winning elections, but even that seems safe without trying to keep
up appearances, for half of the electorate has an IQ below 100, and
nearly all of the electorate has been badly educated the last 35 years.
Maybe to keep up the appearance of "a democracy"?
In brief, I am not optimistic...(but the system may collapse soon, and
will collapse eventually if it is only based on dishonesty and greed,
as it is now).
And yes, this is a good interview you should read all of.
 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: