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. No Place to Hide: Edward
Snowden, the NSA and the
Surveillance State by Glenn
Greenwald – review
2. Pentagon report: scope of
intelligence compromised by
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
5. NBC's Brian Wiliams Lands
Interview in Moscow
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.
Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State by
Glenn Greenwald – review
The first item is
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.
Yes, quite so. Here are two
remarks, both a bit personal.
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.
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.) 
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
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
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.
report: scope of intelligence compromised by Snowden 'staggering'
next item is an article by Jason Leopold on The Guardian:
This starts as
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
next item is an article by Ladar Levinson, the owner of Lavabit, on The
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
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
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.
Thing the World Has Seen”: David Cay Johnston on Inequality’s Looming
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.
next item is an article by Elias Isquith that I found on AlterNet but
that originated on Salon:
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
Anyway... this is a good interview and you can read all of it using the
Wiliams Lands Snowden/Greenwald Interview in
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
The main reason why this
is quite interesting (although much depends on how the NBC will
show the interview) is this:
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.
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.
 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.)
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
(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: