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Nederlog


  May
24, 2014
Crisis: Greenwald * 2, "Freedom Act", Occupy=terrorists, Wikileaks, News
   "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. A Response to Michael Kinsley
2. 'Journalist' Argues In NY Times That Publishing Decisions
     Should Ultimately Be Made By Government

3. USA Freedom Act Passes House With Protests and Sighs
4. Revealed: Gov't Used Fusion Centers to Spy on Occupy
5. Wikileaks Reveals Identity of 'Country X': Afghanistan
6. Stunning Headlines from the Last Week

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of May 24. It is an ordinary crisis issue.

Here is a summary: The first two aricles are about Kinsley's attack on Greenwald; the third registers the very misleadingly named "Freedom Act" was passed; the fourth is about the treatment of members of Occupy (and others) as "criminals or terrorists" by the US government; the fifth about Wikileaks vs The Intercept; and the sixth provides a list of articles I did not review this week.

1. A Response to Michael Kinsley

The first item today is a response of Glenn Greenwald to an article by Michael Kinsley:
First some background: The reason for Glenn Greenwald's response to Michael Kinsley is a review of Greenwald's "No Place To Hide" in the New York Times. Here is a link to it:
I'd say this is tendentious trash, not because I disagree with it, which I do, but because it is total bullshit that serves the government. Also, it is written - I think on purpose - rather unclearly, and the reason I think this is on purpose is to be able to blacken Greenwald without running legal risks.

But you can judge for yourself. Here are Glenn Greenwald last two paragraphs:

So let’s recap: The New York Times chose someone to review my book about the Snowden leaks who has a record of suggesting that journalists may be committing crimes when publishing information against the government’s wishes. That journalist then proceeded to strongly suggest that my prosecution could be warranted. Other prominent journalists —including the one who hosts Meet the Press–then heralded that review without noting the slightest objection to Kinsley’s argument.

Do I need to continue to participate in the debate over whether many U.S. journalists are pitifully obeisant to the U.S. government? Did they not just resolve that debate for me? What better evidence can that argument find than multiple influential American journalists standing up and cheering while a fellow journalist is given space in The New York Times to argue that those who publish information against the government’s wishes are not only acting immorally but criminally?

That about sums it up.

Now as to Michael Kinsley. First, a fairly typical quotation from the above linked review. He sounds like a teacher correcting a four-year old:
His story is full of journalistic derring-do, mostly set in exotic Hong Kong. It’s a great yarn, which might be more entertaining if Greenwald himself didn’t come across as so unpleasant. Maybe he’s charming and generous in real life. But in “No Place to Hide,” Greenwald seems like a self-righteous sourpuss, convinced that every issue is “straightforward,” and if you don’t agree with him, you’re part of something he calls “the authorities,” who control everything for their own nefarious but never explained purposes.
Kinsley continues this with a sum-up of what he calls "reformers", who he says "tend to be difficult people": There are "ascetics"; "narcissists" (Assange, says Kinsley); "political romantics" (Snowden, says Kinsley); and also at least one  "ruthless revolutionary" (Greenwald, says Kinsley) - in brief, reformers tend to be "difficult people" whose arguments can be left aside, but whose personalities can be attacked.

Here is another quotation from Kinsley:
Here at last, I thought, is something Greenwald and I can agree on. The Constitution is for everyone. There shouldn’t be a special class of people called “journalists” with privileges like publishing secret government documents.
Well, here is the First Amendment, quoted from Wikipedia - that does explicitly name "the press":
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
-- Fist Amendment to the US Constitution
So what if the government is breaking the law, as I think it obviously is, and the evidence for this is in secret government documents?  The First Amendment does provide for that case, but Kinsley does not want a free press: He wants the government to decide what can and cannot be published, rather than the people, or the editor, conforming to the First Amendment.

Also, one problem is that Kinsley is - intentionally, I think - being very vague: There are indeed some cases on which the government is to decide - but not when this concerns the secret spying on everything that any American (and anybody else!) does with his or her computer or cell-phone. And that is what Greenwald is much concerned about, and rightly so.

For one thing, that goes squarely against the Fourth Amendment, for which reason it is kept secret by the US government, which does this, as are the many secret court cases, which anyway is authoritarian rather than democratic or free:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution
But these arguments clearly are wasted on Kinsley: He wants the government to decide what is and is not publishable, and that is it, and to hell with the Bill of Rights if the government secretly decided - as it did - that everyone's personal data (and all their private secrets) are freely downloadable by the government spies, to be used against one whenever any government decides.

Here is some more about this:

2. 'Journalist' Argues In NY Times That Publishing Decisions Should Ultimately Be Made By Government

The next item is an article by Barry Eisler on Freedom Of The Press Foundation:

This is an interesting article that makes mincemeat of Kinsley's arguments. It starts as follows:

Glenn Greenwald spends the last third of his excellent new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State, exposing the mentality and function of pseudo-journalists like David Gregory, who are in fact better understood as courtiers to power. So it was kind of Michael Kinsley to offer himself up today as living proof of Greenwald's arguments.

In a New York Times book review, Kinsley says:

"The question is who decides [what to publish]. It seems clear, at least to me, that the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences. In a democracy (which, pace Greenwald, we still are), that decision must ultimately be made by the government."

Pause for a moment to let that sink in. How can the government have ultimate decision-making power consistent with the First Amendment with regard to the publication of leaks? As Kinsley himself goes on to say, "You can't square this circle." Indeed. Unless you believe the government should be able to impose prior restraint on the publication of anything it deems secret. Unless you want to argue that the Constitution should be amended accordingly. Unless you believe the government should have been able to prevent the publication of, say, the Pentagon
Papers (it certainly tried).

There is a lot more, that you can see for your self using the last dotted link. I leave these to you, and merely quote the ending:

Kinsley claims that, "Especially in the age of blogs, it is impossible to distinguish between a professional journalist and anyone else who wants to publish his or her thoughts."

Really? I think a good working test of whether someone is a journalist, professional or otherwise, is whether he or she agrees with Kinsley. Because if you believe the government should have ultimate decision-making authority over what leaks to publish, you might be many things. But a real journalist isn't one of them.

Yes, indeed.

3. USA Freedom Act Passes House With Protests and Sighs

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Many legislators and campaigners are unsatisfied with the “watered-down” version of the anti-surveillance bill that passed the House of Representatives with a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, 303 to 121, on Thursday.

The USA Freedom Act is the first piece of legislation “aimed specifically at curbing U.S. surveillance abuses revealed by Edward Snowden,” The Guardian reports. When he accepted the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 30, Snowden described the legislation as “the only act that really starts to address these concerns.”

Last-minute efforts by lawmakers loyal to the intelligence establishment weakened key language in the bill. The revision lost the support of several influential members of the House Judiciary Committee who had previously voted for it, including Republicans Darrell Issa, Ted Poe and Raul Labrador and Democrat Zoe Lofgren.

Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said: “The bill is littered with loopholes. The problem right now, especially after multiple revisions, is that it doesn’t effectively end mass surveillance.”

There is more there that I skip and leave to you, but I quote the ending, although it seems to me a bit too optimistic:

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has long opposed NSA surveillance and objected to the form of the bill passed Thursday, said the Senate version of the bill remained strong and he hoped that its provisions could be maintained. The Guardian quoted him as saying, “I am gravely concerned that the changes that have been made to the House version of this bill have watered it down so far that it fails to protect Americans from suspicionless mass surveillance.”

Observers say the size of the rebellion and the senior status of some of the rebels may help efforts to improve language in the legislation as it is deliberated by the Senate.

4. Revealed: Gov't Used Fusion Centers to Spy on Occupy

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
U.S. government Fusion Centers, which operate as ill-defined "counter-terrorism" intelligence gathering and sharing centers, conducted spy operations against Occupy protesters involving police, the Pentagon, the FBI, military employees, and business people.

So finds a report released Friday by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund based on 4,000 public documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The release was accompanied by an in-depth article by the New York Times.

"The U.S. Fusion Centers are using their vast counter-terrorism resources to target the domestic social justice movement as a criminal or terrorist enterprise," PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard stated. "This is an abuse of power and corruption of democracy."

"Although the Fusion Centers’ existence is justified by the DHS as a necessary component in stopping terrorism and violent crime, the documents show that the Fusion Centers in the Fall of 2011 and Winter of 2012 were devoted to unconstrained targeting of a grassroots movement for social change that was acknowledged to be peaceful in character," the report states.

There is more in the article. I only quote the subtitle:

New report exposes US government's treatment of social movements as 'criminal or terrorist enterprises'

Yes, that seems to be correct: whoever dissents (towards the left, at least) is deemed "a criminal or terrorist" by the US government.

5.  Wikileaks Reveals Identity of 'Country X': Afghanistan

The next article is - as it happens - also by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Wikileaks stated Friday that, in addition to the Bahamas, the United States is tracking and recording all mobile phone calls within the country Afghanistan. In making the announcement, the publication claimed to be shedding light on information redacted by journalists at The Intercept who reported earlier this week on the existence of far-reaching NSA surveillance in a series of countries.
Also, according to Wikileaks their reason for publishing this is as follows (and this  is partially quoted: there is a little more):
Such censorship strips a nation of its right to self-determination on a matter which affects its whole population. An ongoing crime of mass espionage is being committed against the victim state and its population. By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimisation, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere.
Well...perhaps. But I much doubt that the Afghani have an effective "right to self-determination" or the realistic possibilities  "to seek an effective remedy".
And I deplore the differences of opinion between The Intercept and Wikileaks.


6.
Stunning Headlines from the Last Week

Finally, he last article for today is from Washington's Blog (I know "'s" to indicate a genitive is not grammatical anymore, but I think it is clearer):
I will quote this in full, for the benefit of whoever wants to read more US politics:

Quite a Week  …

It has been an incredible week for news. Here are some of the headlines which caught our eye  …

Congress rejects AUMF sunset amendment, war on terror to continue, Guantanamo still open (UPI)

Congress reaffirms indefinite detention of Americans under NDAA (RT)

Obama blames Founding Fathers’ ‘structural’ design of Congress for gridlock (Washington Times; what, the former Constitutional law professor doesn’t like the Constitution?)

FBI chief: ‘Be suspicious’ of government power (The Hill)

North Carolina Bill Would Make Revealing Fracking Secrets a Felony (Newsweek)

Study Shows US Government’s Drone Killing Strategy Is Having Zero Impact On Al-Qaeda Attack Numbers (TechDirt)

A Heated Debate: Are Climate Scientists Being Forced to Toe the Line? (Spiegel)

Keith Alexander: We Need More Spying In The Future Because All Of Our Previous Spying Has Only Increased The Number Of Terrorist Attacks (Tech Dirt)

Barclays Fined For Manipulating Price Of Gold For A Decade; Sending “Bursts” Of Sell Orders (Zero Hedge)

Caught Red-Handed: This Is What Zoomed In Gold Manipulation Looks Like (Zero Hedge)

From Rothschild To Koch Industries: Meet The People Who “Fix” The Price Of Gold (Zero Hedge)

I did read some of these articles, but not all. Also, I do not know the past week was very special for news but I may be mistaken. 
---------------------------------
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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