20, 2014
Crisis: Greenwald, NSA *2, Bahamas, Cisco, McMillan, Taibbi
   "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

Prev- crisis -Next

1. No Place to Hide review – Glenn Greenwald's compelling
     account of NSA/GCHQ surveillance

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 Bahamas

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 Years.
7. “It’s total moral surrender”: Matt Taibbi unloads on Wall
     Street, inequality and our broken justice system

About ME/CFS


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.

1. No Place to Hide review – Glenn Greenwald's compelling account of NSA/GCHQ surveillance

The first item is an article by Henry Porter on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Before Glenn 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.

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.
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 days, including the totally talentless Kirsty Wark, sold out to Tony Blair or whoever else is in power. (See also item 7 on the type.)

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
Edward Snowden. 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."

Yes, quite so - and this really is a total betrayal of real journalism.

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:
Democracy and 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 any conscience.

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 figure out:

(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 either.)
(2) Most of the "journalists" these days are not journalists anymore but are the purveyors of propaganda and public relations for 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 of.

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 public relations for 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 the Guardian.

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 and public relations folks, that is: utterly dishonest deceivers, for their governments?!

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.

2.  NSA to test legal limits on surveillance if USA Freedom Act becomes law

The next item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

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.

3.  Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas

The next item is an article by Ryan Deveraux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas.

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 entire country.

There is a lot more 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.

4.  Cisco CEO Berates Obama for NSA Surveillance

The 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:
Following 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.

"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."

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.

5. A Deep Dive into the House's Version of Narrow NSA Reform: The New USA Freedom Act

The 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.

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 lacks.

The article is by a policy analyst and legislative assistant to the Electronic
Frontier Foundation. It is also a bit technical, but that cannot be helped.

6. 25-Year-Old Occupy Protester Sentenced To 3 Months In Prison. She Could Have Gotten 7 Years.

The next item
is an article by Erika Eichelberger on Mother Jones:
This starts as follows:
Last week, 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.
There is 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.

7. “It’s total moral surrender”: Matt Taibbi unloads on Wall Street, inequality and our broken justice system

Finally for today, an article by Elias Isquith on Salon: This starts as follows:

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.

And this is a good interview, that I recommend you read all of. Here is what the book that caused this interview is about:

So, what is “The Divide”?

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.

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
can go many years to prison for "crimes" like selling marijuana or elbowing a policeman who was clad in civil clothes and grabbed her breast.

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 thing.
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 the millionaires say.

Here is Taibbi again on the morals involved:

Morally, it 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 top:

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 place. Thanks 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 appearances":

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.
[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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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