6, 2014
Crisis: Snowden*3, NSA, Secrecy, Vodafone, Shield, Seattle, Reset the Net
   "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. How the National Security State Kills a Free Society
2. On 6/5, 65 Things We Know About NSA Surveillance That
     We Didn’t Know a Year Ago

3. Edward Snowden, a year on: reformers frustrated as NSA
     preserves its power

4. Britain's first secret trial: this way lies trouble
5. Four ways Edward Snowden changed the world – and
     why the fight's not over

6. Vodafone reveals existence of secret wires that allow
     state surveillance

7. First Federal Media Shield Legislation Passes House of

8. Seattle is Right
9. 'We Are Resetting the Net to Shut Off Mass Surveillance'

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of June 6. It is an ordinary crisis log.

1. How the National Security State Kills a Free Society

The first item is an article by Edward Snowden on Common Dreams:
In fact, it seems the article consists of the text of a mail Snowden wrote to a person or persons at the ACLU. It starts as follows:

It's been one year.

Technology has been a liberating force in our lives. It allows us to create and share the experiences that make us human, effortlessly. But in secret, our very own government—one bound by the Constitution and its Bill of Rights—has reverse-engineered something beautiful into a tool of mass surveillance and oppression. The government right now can easily monitor whom you call, whom you associate with, what you read, what you buy, and where you go online and offline, and they do it to all of us, all the time.

This means that (1) "the government" - that of the United States of America - is treating its people as if it is a fascist, a totalitarian, and an illegal government, for it has usurped far more powers than any government ever had, and has done so in secret, while willfully breaking both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and (2) "the government" has effectively made two classes of persons: Extremely powerful supermen, who work for the government or its contractors and who can, secretively, anonymously, but freely, survey all the personal and private data of hundreds of millions or indeed billions (taking into account non-Americans) of what must be regarded - by them, not by me - as powerless and rightless surveilled subhumans, almost all surveilled completely regardless of any harm, and also (for American citizens) (3) completely regardless of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I really cannot make this into anything else. I might have taken out terms the purist and rather sick Godwins object to: "fascism", "totalitarian", "superman", "subhuman", but these seem to me - a 64 year old son and grandson of persons committed to Nazi concentration camps as "political terrorists" for being in the resistance [2] - accurate enough, although the full scale of the powers of the US government so far have not been shown (and most of these powers are secret, and are controlled by secret courts, with secret powers and secret orders that few dare to oppose in public).

These terms are accurate enough, because a government - of mere mortal men, not long ago your equals, at least in law - that arrogates itself such powers as the US government arrogated to itself, in secret, which are far greater than any government has ever had, will abuse these, and indeed is abusing these, and on an enormous scale. (But you do not need to use my terms: it probably is somewhat risky, especially in The New America Surveilled By The Supermen Of The NSA, or else by one of the Five Eyes secret services.)

The article/mail continues:

Today, our most intimate private records are being indiscriminately seized in secret, without regard for whether we are actually suspected of wrongdoing. When these capabilities fall into the wrong hands, they can destroy the very freedoms that technology should be nurturing, not extinguishing. Surveillance, without regard to the rule of law or our basic human dignity, creates societies that fear free expression and dissent, the very values that make America strong.

In the long, dark shadow cast by the security state, a free society cannot thrive.

These "capabilities" are in "the wrong hands": Every government, any government, that arrogates to itself the powers to surveil everything anyone does is an authoritarian and anti-democratic government and wants to be such a one:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
-- Lord Acton
These are by far the greatest powers anyone has ever had: To know - in principle - everything about everyone, in secret, and overseen by secret courts, with secret powers.

And this holds in particular for the present U.S. government, because it should have been bound by its Constitution and its Bill of Rights that clearly forbid these things. But "
absolute power corrupts absolutely", and it has corrupted the US government.

There is more there I leave to you, but it ends like this:

But now it's time to keep the momentum for serious reform going so the conversation does not die prematurely.

Only then will we get the legislative reform that truly reins in the NSA and puts the government back in its constitutional place. Only then will we get the secure technologies we need to communicate without fear that silently in the background, our very own government is collecting, collating, and crunching the data that allows unelected bureaucrats to intrude into our most private spaces, analyzing our hopes and fears. Until then, every American who jealously guards their rights must do their best to engage in digital self-defense and proactively protect their electronic devices and communications. Every step we can take to secure ourselves from a government that no longer respects our privacy is a patriotic act.

We've come a long way, but there's more to be done.

— Edward J. Snowden, American

I agree.
2. On 6/5, 65 Things We Know About NSA Surveillance That We Didn’t Know a Year Ago

The next item is an article by Nadia Kayyali and Katitza Rodrigues on Common Dreams. They work for the Electronic Frontiers Foundations:
This has a brief introduction, that ends like this:
On the anniversary of that first leak, here are 65 things we know about NSA spying that we did not know a year ago:
And it follows by giving a list - one of the few times an article should be allowed in the form of a list, by the way - of which I select a few points, if only for those who doubt my qualifications that this behavior is, in fact, behavior of a government that is fascistic, totalitarian and authoritarian, for otherwise they would not do it - and indeed I am also not an opponent of spying, provided it is spying on selected targets for which there is probable cause. (And in case you haven't seen this: See Abby Martin: Interview, with two former leading NSA employees.)

But I am a total opponent of gathering up all data one can find (which is at the moment: nearly all the data people produce with their computers or phones): To desire that is
fascistic, totalitarian and authoritarian, and yes: I know very well what these terms mean. (In fact, if you oppose my terminology, I question whether you know what you are talking about. This is evil, and one needs evil names to accurately name it. And no, you do not need to use the names, and I have no children whose lives I may put in danger, and I have lived 64 years.)

Here is a selection of the 65 points - which I recommend you read all:
13. The intelligence budget in 2013 alone was $52.6 billion— this number was revealed by a leaked document, not by the government. Of that budget, $10.8 billion went to the NSA. That’s approximately $167 per person in the United States.

21. Although most NSA reform has focused on Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, and most advocates have also pushed for reform of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, some of the worst NSA spying happens under the authority of Executive Order 12333, which President Obama could repeal or modify today.

23. In one month, March 2013, the NSA collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide, including 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks.

31. When the DEA acts on information its Special Operations Division receives from the NSA, it cloaks the source of the information through “parallel construction,” going through the charade of recreating an imaginary investigation to hide the source of the tip, not only from the defendant, but from the court. This was intended to ensure that no court rules on the legality or scope of how NSA data is used in ordinary investigations.   

34. The NSA has plans to infect potentially millions of computers with malware implants as part of its Tailored Access Operations.

50. NSA documents show that not all governments are clear about their own level of cooperation with the NSA. As the Intercept reports, “Few, if any, elected leaders have any knowledge of the surveillance.”

52. The NSA monitored phone calls of at least 35 world leaders.

57. The NSA stored data from approximately 500-million German communications connections per month.

65. Norwegian daily Dagbladet reported (Link in Norwegian) that the NSA acquired data on 33 million Norwegian cell phone calls in one 30-day period.”

There’s no question that the international relationships Obama pledged to repair, as well as the confidence of the American people in their privacy and constitutional rights, have been damaged by the NSAs dragnet surveillance. But one year later, both the United States and international governments have not taken the steps necessary to ensure that this surveillance ends. That’s why everyone must take action— contact your elected representative, join Reset the Net, and learn about how international law applies to U.S. surveillance today.

Incidentally: You can do quite a few things against surveillance: See item 9.

3. Edward Snowden, a year on: reformers frustrated as NSA preserves its power

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

This starts as follows - and it is a good long article by someone who was there from the beginning:

For two weeks in May, it looked as though privacy advocates had scored a tenuous victory against the widespread surveillance practices exposed by Edward Snowden a year ago. Then came a resurgent intelligence community, armed with pens, and dry, legislative language.

During several protracted sessions in secure rooms in the Capitol, intelligence veterans, often backed by the congressional leadership, sparred with House aides to abridge privacy and transparency provisions contained in the first bill rolling back National Security Agency spying powers in more than three decades. The revisions took place in secret after two congressional committees had passed the bill. The NSA and its allies took creative advantage of a twilight legislative period permitting technical or cosmetic language changes.

The episode shows the lengths to which the architects and advocates of bulk surveillance have gone to preserve their authorities in the time since the Guardian, 12 months ago today, began disclosing the scope of NSA data collection. That resistance to change, aided by the power and trust enjoyed by the NSA on Capitol Hill, helps explain why most NSA powers remain intact a year after the largest leak in the agency's history.

There is a lot more, and it explains well what the last line says:

most NSA powers remain intact a year after the largest leak in the agency's history.

Incidentally: You can do quite a few things against surveillance: See item 9.

4. Britain's first secret trial: this way lies trouble

The next item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The Daily Mail and the left don't often find themselves on the same side, but when they do it is worth paying attention. The Daily Mail is absolutely right (not a sentence you will catch me typing on a regular basis) to splash on "Britain's first secret trial". It's an affront to basic principles of justice, and a frightening precedent to boot. At risk of sounding like a Mail columnist myself: where will it end?

Two men, known only as AB and CD, have been charged with terrorism; journalists were forbidden from disclosing even this simple fact until newspapers overturned a gagging order. But for the first time in centuries – and in a direct challenge to the Magna Carta of 1215 – the entire trial will be held in secrecy.

A basic principle that democrats of all hues should surely champion is that justice is done, and is seen to be done. As Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti has put it: "Transparency isn't an optional luxury in the justice system – it's key to ensuring fairness and protecting the rule of law." But it is the precedent that should disturb us. It isn't one of the authoritarian anti-terror laws passed by New Labour or the coalition responsible for this assault on justice, it is being justified with provisions under common law. Yet once this precedent is established and a centuries-old tradition of justice broken, it will be much easier to hold trials in total secrecy in future.

Yes, indeed. There is a lot more in the article, which is quite good.

5. Four ways Edward Snowden changed the world – and why the fight's not over

The next item is an article by Trevor Timm on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Thursday marks one year since the Guardian published the first in a series of eye-opening stories about surveillance based on documents provided by Edward Snowden. The events in the 52 weeks since have proven him to be the most significant whistleblower in American history – and have reverberated throughout the world.

This is a good and a long survey article, that you should read all of. It ends as follows (and I have skipped quite a few quotable bits):

But with no legislative reform yet, the fight is far from over. As Snowden said around the six-month anniversary of his leaks, "I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself." In the coming year, the public will have to decide: are you willing to continue to fight for real and permanent change, or will the NSA sink back into the shadows, allowed to continue its mass surveillance, largely unabated, until the next Snowden comes along?
Incidentally: You can do quite a few things against surveillance: See item 9.

6. Vodafone reveals existence of secret wires that allow state surveillance

The next item is an article by Juliette Garside on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Vodafone, one of the world's largest mobile phone groups, has revealed the existence of secret wires that allow government agencies to listen to all conversations on its networks, saying they are widely used in some of the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe and beyond.

The company has broken its silence on government surveillance in order to push back against the increasingly widespread use of phone and broadband networks to spy on citizens, and will publish its first Law Enforcement Disclosure Report on Friday . At 40,000 words, it is the most comprehensive survey yet of how governments monitor the conversations and whereabouts of their people.

The company said wires had been connected directly to its network and those of other telecoms groups, allowing agencies to listen to or record live conversations and, in certain cases, track the whereabouts of a customer. Privacy campaigners said the revelations were a "nightmare scenario" that confirmed their worst fears on the extent of snooping.

This also is a long and good article, which includes information like this:

Direct-access systems do not require warrants, and companies have no information about the identity or the number of customers targeted. Mass surveillance can happen on any telecoms network without agencies having to justify their intrusion to the companies involved.

Industry sources say that in some cases, the direct-access wire, or pipe, is essentially equipment in a locked room in a network's central data centre or in one of its local exchanges or "switches".

The staff working in that room can be employed by the telecoms firm, but have state security clearance and are usually unable to discuss any aspect of their work with the rest of the company.
Incidentally: You can do quite a few things against surveillance: See item 9.

7. First Federal Media Shield Legislation Passes House of Representatives

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This is the first good bit of news today. It starts as follows:
Late in May, the House of Representatives approved an amendment to an appropriations bill that would bar the Justice Department from compelling reporters to reveal the identities of and other information about their confidential sources. The “media shield” legislation, which has long been a goal for press advocates, was sponsored by Rep. Alan Grayson.
And it ends as follows:

Grayson, a former Truthdigger of the Week, stated in a press release, “The purpose of this amendment is to raise the possibility of a Federal shield law that corresponds to shield law already in place in 49 States, but not at the level of the Federal Government.

“A shield law is legislation designed to protect a reporter’s privilege or the right of news reporters to refuse to testify as to information and sources of information obtained during a news gather and dissemination process. In short, a reporter should not be forced to reveal his or her source.”

Quite rightly so, and for the following reasons: (1) the government may be quite wrong in its interpretation of laws, and (2) the laws may be quite or subtly wrong or mistaken, while (3) a reporter only reports what he found, and should not be held responsible for the things he is writing a report about, nor should he be forced to reveal his sources: that would be to prejudice the previous points.

8. Seattle is Right

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
By raising its minimum wage to $15, Seattle is leading a long-overdue movement toward a living wage. Most minimum wage workers aren’t teenagers these days. They’re major breadwinners who need a higher minimum wage in order to keep their families out of poverty.

There is considerably more on how to do this - it must be done gradually, and indeed it is done gradually in Seattle - but Reich welcomes this, and I agree.

9. 'We Are Resetting the Net to Shut Off Mass Surveillance'

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This is the second piece of good news today, and it starts as follows:

To mark the one year anniversary of the first reporting based on information revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on June 5, 2013, privacy advocates, organizations, and technology companies all over the world on Thursday are participating in 'Reset The Net'—an online day of action in which participants pledge to take real steps to protect online freedoms and fight back against mass surveillance.

"Don't ask for your privacy," goes the call issued by the campaign, "Take it back."

Coordinated by a broad coalition of policy organizations and activist groups—and initiated by Fight For the Future—'Reset The Net' calls on websites, app developers, organizations, and individual internet users to promote what they call "privacy packs" so that people everywhere can have better access to online privacy and encryption tools.

On Wednesday, as a way to show its support for the day, internet giant Google announced new end-to-end encryption methods for its widely used Gmail service.

Websites, tech companies, and advocacy organizations of all stripes—including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Common Dreams and scores of others—have all signed on and pledged to improve their privacy protections for their members and users.

This is good news and indeed Edward Snowden supports this. Here is what he wrote:

One year ago, we learned that the internet is under surveillance, and our activities are being monitored to create permanent records of our private lives — no matter how innocent or ordinary those lives might be.

Today, we can begin the work of effectively shutting down the collection of our online communications, even if the US Congress fails to do the same. That’s why I’m asking you to join me on June 5th for Reset the Net, when people and companies all over the world will come together to implement the technological solutions that can put an end to the mass surveillance programs of any government. This is the beginning of a moment where we the people begin to protect our universal human rights with the laws of nature rather than the laws of nations.

We have the technology, and adopting encryption is the first effective step that everyone can take to end mass surveillance. That’s why I am excited for Reset the Net — it will mark the moment when we turn political expression into practical action, and protect ourselves on a large scale.

Join us on June 5th, and don’t ask for your privacy. Take it back.

In case you missed it: Here is the main link:

I think this is all a good idea - but what is needed is the radical cleaning up of the NSA and the legal limitation of spying on everyone:

That is not compatible with a democratic or a free and open society, and should be forbidden, and indeed can be forbidden: it is quite possible to ward of "terrorism" without spying on everyone or on most, and a state that denies this is a terroristic state, whatever it pretends to be.
[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] Also, I have been called "a fascist" many more times than I recall, and was called
"a fascist" and "a terrorist" by the fascist terrorist careerist quasi- "marxists" of the ASVA (a "marxist" student-party in the University of Amsterdam) whose political plans I opposed in the name of real science, and whose ideology I knew far better than they did it themselves, because my family was one of the few really marxist families there were in Holland. (Did they mean it? Probably not, for they did not mean anything: They just wanted to be as offensive as they could be, in order to make a career. And where are they now, these ASVA-assholes? In high-paying jobs, often posing as neo-conservatives.)

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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