23, 2014
Crisis: Snowden+Greenwald * 2, Pentagon, Lavabit, Johnston
   "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: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the
     Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald – review

2. Pentagon report: scope of intelligence compromised by
     Snowden 'staggering'

3. Secrets, lies and Snowden's email: why I was forced to
     shut down Lavabit

4. “Bloodiest Thing the World Has Seen”: David Cay
     Johnston on Inequality’s Looming Disaster

5. NBC's Brian Wiliams Lands Snowden/Greenwald
     Interview in Moscow

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of May 23. It is an ordinary crisis issue.

This contains interesting news about Greenwald and about Snowden: There is a good book review of Greenwald's latest on The Guardian, whereas Snowden was interviewed for an hour that is going to be shown on NBC; the Pentagon still claims lots of things without offering any evidence; Lavabit's owner has a piece on The Guardian on the shocking treatment he got from the courts (secret, mostly), which moved him to - courageously - shut down Lavabit; and there is a good interview with David Cay Johnston.

1. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald – review

The first item is an article by Philip Sands on The Guardian:

To start with, this is - at least - the second review of Glenn Greenwald's "No Place To Hide" on The Guardian: There was an earlier one, by Henry Porter, that I reviewed on May 20, 2014. I wasn't very pleased with Porter's review, and I explained why. This time, it is by a British QC and professor of international law.

I quote three parts from the much longer review. First, there is this:
In any event, and no doubt like many others, I proceed on the basis that all my communications – personal and professional – are capable of being monitored by numerous governments, including my own. Whether they are is another matter, as is the question of what happens with material obtained by such surveillance – a point that this book touches on but never really addresses. Greenwald's argument is that it's not so much what happens with the material that matters, but the mere fact of its being gathered. Even so, his point is a powerful one.

This is the great importance of the astonishing revelations made by Snowden, as facilitated by Greenwald and Poitras, with help from various news media, including the Guardian. Not only does it confirm what many have suspected – that surveillance is happening – but it also makes clear that it's happening on an almost unimaginably vast scale. One might have expected a certain targeting of individuals and groups, but we now know that data is hoovered up indisciminately.
Yes, quite so. Here are two remarks, both a bit personal.

First, I too "
proceed on the basis that all my communications – personal and professional – are capable of being monitored by numerous governments, including my own":

In fact, I have a website since 1996, that these days is much better read than it was the first 10 years - but the first ten years I received tons of spam and regularly some replies by readers, whereas since 2007 I have extremely little spam and almost no replies by any of what must the last 7 years be several millions of readers, while I also have millions of hits every year.

My conclusion is that it is much more likely than not that my e-mail is being controlled by the Dutch partner of the GCHQ and NSA, the AIVD, but clearly I have no proof - but I have at least 4 million hits over the last 2 years, and I received six (6) mails from distinct persons about what is on my site, of over 500 MB. (In fact, I also received at least 12 and possibly over 20 mails from professional propagandists who claim that "they want to improve my site" by making it commercial, which I never answer to, since I consider both the persons and their plans completely despicable.) [2]

Second, I agree that surveillance is - secretly! - "
happening on an almost unimaginably vast scale" and "that data is hoovered up indisciminately", and again I say (as I did first in 2005!) that all "anti terrorism" poses are lies: "Terrorism" is the sick pretext that allowed a tiny set of secret spies to steal everything from anyone, which was the end from the beginning, and indeed from before the turn of the century.

Next, there is this:

The big issue at stake here is privacy, and the relationship between the individual and the state, and it goes far beyond issues of legality (although Snowden's fear of arrest, and perhaps also Greenwald's, seems rather real). It is in the nature of government that information will be collected, and that some of it should remain confidential. "Privacy is a core condition of being a free person," Greenwald rightly proclaims, allowing us a realm "where we can act, think, speak, write, experiment and choose how to be away from the judgmental eyes of others".
Yes - except that it is fair to say, after nearly a year of Snowden's revelations, that all privacy is totally lost for everybody who is not a member of a spying organization: it is fucked, gone, destroyed, and raped. (How else can one put it and be adequate?)

And I am not saying that all or most mails or phone-calls that have been stolen (for that is what they are, completely regardless of any "laws" that are supposed to "justify" this) are being read: Clearly, that is physically impossible.

I am saying that all the private data of everyone are being stored, and may be read, by a few thousands in every "democratic Western state" - and anything anyone ever said since 2007 may have been saved indefinitely and may be used against one, at any future time, even 20 or 40 years from now (that is, without a collapse of the present system that rules in the USA).

Here is the last paragraph:

Britain needs a proper debate about the power of the state to collect information of the kind that Snowden has told us about, including its purpose and limits. The technological revolution of the past two decades has left UK law stranded, with parliament seemingly unable (and perhaps unwilling) to get a proper grip on the legal framework that is needed to restrain our political governors and the intelligence services, not least in their dance with the US. "The greatest threat is that we shall become like those who seek to destroy us", the legendary US diplomat George Kennan warned in 1947. In response, revelations can be made, Greenwald's book published, and a Pulitzer prize awarded. Long may it go on.
Yes, though I think in vast majority, British parliamentarians are the eager and willing servants of the government, or of the previous or next government, and they can be trusted as the government can be trusted: Not at all.

Also, I very much doubt there will be any "
proper debate":

First, I think few are willing; second, I think few are qualified (what does a parliamentarian know about computers and programming?!); and third and most important: so long as it is unknown what the NSA and the GCHQ do in fact, there can be no "proper debate" and it is very unlikely that, without a revolution or a collapse, either the NSA or the GCHQ will say publicly what they do to the public.

Finally, this seems a good review to me, and above you have the link to read it all.

2. Pentagon report: scope of intelligence compromised by Snowden 'staggering'

The next item is an article by Jason Leopold on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

A top-secret Pentagon report to assess the damage to national security from the leak of classified National Security Agency documents by Edward Snowden concluded that “the scope of the compromised knowledge related to US intelligence capabilities is staggering”.

The Guardian has obtained a copy of the Defense Intelligence Agency's classified damage assessment in response to a Freedom of Information Act (Foia) lawsuit filed against the Defense Department earlier this year. The heavily redacted 39-page report was prepared in December and is titled “DoD Information Review Task Force-2: Initial Assessment, Impacts Resulting from the Compromise of Classified Material by a Former NSA Contractor.”

The problems are, of course, that (1) all The Guardian has is a "heavily redacted" version of the report (and I am not blaming The Guardian), whereas (2) of course the US governmental bureaucracy (which must be suspected of lying all the time: see I.F. Stone) cannot do anything else than blackening Snowden, his acts, his character, or whatever he stands for, to the utmost.

There is rather a lot more in the article, but the summary is simply that the governmental liars provide no evidence of any kind (or if they do, it got redacted, by their own kind).

3. Secrets, lies and Snowden's email: why I was forced to shut down Lavabit

The next item is an article by Ladar Levinson, the owner of Lavabit, on The Guardian:

Ladar Levinson is the man who had a firm that serviced 410.000 persons who wanted to encrypt their emails and that included Edward Snowden, and who was "therefore" commanded by the FBI to deliver all the encryption keys to all the persons he serviced, so that the FBI could read all the mails. He - bravely - refused to do so and had to completely shut down his firm last year - while being forbidden to say almost anything in public.

This is a brief version of his story, which shows the sickness of the US "justice" system, which is totally absurd and fascist in cases like his (and "fascist" is my term, which I use because I think it is apt - and I know a lot about it).

But you should read it and see what you think. Here is the ending of Levinson's article:

More importantly for my case, the prosecution also argued that my users had no expectation of privacy, even though the service I provided – encryption – is designed for users' privacy.

If my experience serves any purpose, it is to illustrate what most already know: courts must not be allowed to consider matters of great importance under the shroud of secrecy, lest we find ourselves summarily deprived of meaningful due process. If we allow our government to continue operating in secret, it is only a matter of time before you or a loved one find yourself in a position like I did – standing in a secret courtroom, alone, and without any of the meaningful protections that were always supposed to be the people's defense against an abuse of the state's power.

Yes, indeed - but given the intelligence of the US average person, I do suppose chances are that this is merely a matter of time.

4. “Bloodiest Thing the World Has Seen”: David Cay Johnston on Inequality’s Looming Disaster

The next item is an article by Elias Isquith that I found on AlterNet but that originated on Salon:

This is an interview with David Cay Johnston, and it is good. I will only quote two parts of it, but there is a lot more under the link.

First, there is this:

We will either, through peaceful, rational means, go back to a system that does not take from the many to give to the few in all these subtle ways, or we will end up like 18th century France. And if we end up in that awful condition, it will be the bloodiest thing the world has even seen. So I think it’s really important to get a handle on this inequality. After all, since the end of the Great Recession, one-third of all income increases in this country went to just 16,000 households, 95 percent of it went to the top 1 percent, and the bottom 90 percent’s incomes fell, and they fell by 15 percent. So we need to recognize that there is a very, very serious problem here that has to get addressed.
Yes, indeed. I have two qualifications:

First, it may seem as if an administration (of any pretended political color) that can survey each and everyone of those it is said "to serve", which is the case now, may withstand almost any attempt to overthrow it.

I think that is true, and this also is one of the main reasons why it is true, but here enters one of the things that are difficult to judge:

There are more weapons than persons in the US - which may be a decisive factor, since it is extremely difficult to put down several millions of armed men, who act mostly in concert. But I agree this may well be "
the bloodiest thing the world has even seen", if indeed it happens.

Second, although I think it still is logically quite possible to go back to a system of taxation and redistribution that was the case from 1945-1980, I do see very few rich men who want a capitalism-with-a-human-face: Nearly all of the very rich are moved by greed, and apparently think that their millions or billions will
help them survive anything. (I think that is mostly a mistake, but then I never owned millions or billions.)

Then there is this on Obama:

President Obama understands the broad nature of the problem and he’s right to say this is the issue of our time. But his policies simply reinforce inequality. His policies show that he very much identifies with Wall Street and with its interests.
The president has consistently sided with Wall Street, whether it’s not prosecuting the criminality which brought down the economy in 2008, or supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which is not about “free trade,” it’s about protecting existing ownership interests against the future. And so he’s just a really good example of where what he says and what he does don’t align. I don’t know the explanation for that.
I do know the most plausible explanation: He is a clever and charming liar, who wanted to be at the top and succeeded. Also, I really do not understand why this explanation is rejected by many: Politics is a game of lies, and almost all politicians are liars, though few are as charming and as good at it as Obama.

Anyway... this is a good interview and you can read all of it using the last link.

5.  NBC's Brian Wiliams Lands Snowden/Greenwald Interview in Moscow

The next and last item today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
The article is not long, but has some quite interesting news and starts as follows:
Evening anchor for NBC News Brian Williams traveled to Moscow this week, it was revealed on Thursday, in order to conduct a joint interview with exiled NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald—two of the key individuals behind nearly a year's worth of shocking revelations about the U.S. government's global surveillance operations conducted by the National Security Agency.

In what will be Snowden's first televised interview with a major American news channel, NBC describes how "Williams' in-person conversation with Snowden was conducted over the course of several hours and was shrouded in secrecy" due to Snowden's sensitive situation in Russia, where he continues to live under temporary asylum.

The main reason why this is quite interesting (although much depends on how the NBC will show the interview) is this:
And even as many progressive, independent, and foreign news outlets have covered the Snowden revelations closely for more than a year, for the millions of Americans who get their news mostly through the evening news from the major broadcast stations, this will likely be the first time they'll hear Snowden respond directly to questions about why he did what he did and the implications he sees regarding the mass surveillance system under which U.S. citizens now live.
The major broadcast stations have for the most part neglected to show much of Greenwald or Snowden or Poitras, for which reason this must be considered a major breakthrough (although again: much depends on how the NBC will show the interview - but then that will always be the case).

One will have to wait till May 28, when the one hour long interview will be shown on prime time.

[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.)

[2] Incidentally: I do receive quite a lot of mail, but that is mostly from long standing relations with several programmers' sites, that I subscribed to around 2000 or around 2007 at the latest. Also, this is almost wholly about programming, and not about other things.

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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