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Nederlog


  June
20, 2014
Crisis: Guardian, Trust, Surveillance, RAF, Deregulation, Wikileaks, Disclosure
   "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
Sections
Introduction

1. The Guardian view on the government's right to snoop
2. Online surveillance undermines trust in intelligence
     services, says Tory peer

3. Government's defence of surveillance unconvincing, says
     ex-watchdog

4. Call to open RAF base for investigation into NSA tapping
     of Merkel's phone

5. WikiLeaked Doc Reveals Wall Street Plan for Global
     Financial Deregulation

6.
Wikileaks Exposes Super Secret, Regulation-Gutting
     Financial Services Pact

7. Partial Disclosure

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of June 20. It is an ordinary crisis log.

Also, I corrected an odd mistake I made in dating: the files named NL140311a.html -
NL140317a.html either had wrong dates themselves, with an extra zero, or link to files with wrong dates. I removed the zeros and uploaded these 7 files again. It should work correctly now, on my sites, and with the correct dates.

1. The Guardian view on the government's right to snoop

The first item is an article by Editorial on The Guardian:
I  start with quoting the subtitle, which is quite correct, and namely, but not solely, because of Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
The government says it has the legal right to snoop on our internet communications. That is a breach of the right to privacy
In case you want that Article 12, here it is - and it seems to me quite sufficient as well, and does not in any way refer to technology, which also is not really relevant, at least not legally and morally:

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
The article starts as follows:
So now we know. The government has set out the legal basis for its mass surveillance of communications data. The director general of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism, Charles Farr, has explained – in a confusing departure from a previous argument – that when communication involves a foreign-based platform it can be treated not as "internal", needing a warrant to intercept, but as "external". This comprehensive ruling means that each tweet, each update on a Facebook page, and most webmail becomes a legitimate target with no need for a warrant, even where it is between two British citizens. But since every communication – down to the merest text message – has to be examined to see which category it falls into, literally nothing is truly private.
There is more that I skip, that is followed by this:
British citizens are not indifferent to privacy. (...) Yet the implications of the Edward Snowden revelations, of Britain and the US sweeping up the minutiae of our online lives, are still under-appreciated. That needs to change.
Quite so. And indeed they also make a proposal:
Parliament must find some backbone in the face of the advance of the security state. Here is a simple prescription. Rather than try to wrestle with the details of the technology, focus on the one vital principle: the right to privacy. Internet communications between UK citizens should be as sacrosanct as a letter.
Indeed - and I think the proposal is sound, and based on centuries of laws, inside Britain, outside Britain, and international, as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

There is more there, and I agree. I have one more suggestion:

The old laws - Article 12 above, and the Fourth Amendment for the U.S. - (i) are quite sufficient legal grounds and (ii) they do not need to be "updated": They simply need to be applied, and honestly and fully so, to start with.


My reasons for saying so are two: First, it seems to me to be quite true. Second, it is also true that very few parliamentarians have anything like a good understanding of computer technology, so it is utterly pointless for them to "agree" on stuff they do not understand.

2.
Online surveillance undermines trust in intelligence services, says Tory peer

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

This article starts as follows:

The UK government's legal justification for mass surveillance of the internet risks undermining public confidence in the intelligence services, a former Conservative security minister has warned.

Speaking at a debate in University College London, Lady Neville-Jones, who has chaired Whitehall's joint intelligence committee, backed calls for the law governing surveillance, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to be tightened up.

Neville-Jones, who served as security and counter-terrorism minister between 2010 and 2011, is normally a staunch defender of the way the security services operate.

OK - that is something. She is also quoted as saying (among other things):

"If it's the case that officials are exploiting loopholes in the law to get externally generated information that they would not otherwise be able to get [without a warrant] then that's something I would not endorse," she said.

"That kind of suggestion would undermine confidence in the system if that is what is happening and we need to tighten it up.

Indeed. I must say I do not know what difference her opinions will make, but she is a conservative peer who has served as security and counter-terrorism minister, so she will at least be heard by the British government.

The article ends thus:

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty who also took part in the debate, said that extracting even only metadata about online communications was an invasion of privacy showing which websites people had visited.

"[The intelligence services] didn't come to parliament to get a mandate for blanket surveillance," she said. "They made monkeys of us all."

Indeed.

3. Government's defence of surveillance unconvincing, says ex-watchdog

The next item is an article by
Vikram Dodd on The Guardian:
This article starts as follows:

The government's arguments for justifying the mass monitoring of the internet are "unconvincing" and based on exploiting "loopholes" in legislation, the former chief surveillance inspector has said.

Sam Lincoln, who served for seven years as the head of the Office of Surveillance Commissioners, said the revelations by Edward Snowden had damaged public confidence, and security establishment arguments were not being accepted by sections of the public.

So this is another (formerly) high ranking person in British surveillance (i.e. spying) who asserted things at least have to change. He also was not convinced by Charless Farr's arguments:

On Tuesday the government's top security official, Charles Farr, said searches on Google on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well as supposedly private messages on social media among UK citizens can be monitored by the security services because they are legally judged to be "external communications".

Lincoln said he was unconvinced by Farr's arguments: "Technically they are correct, yes it is legal. These are the sort of loopholes in the legislation which they can exploit, but it is a pretty unconvincing argument. It is a convenient and unconvincing argument, however legal it may be.

"A lot of these issues go beyond legal questions, they bring in moral, ethical and social considerations."

I do not think Farr's arguments are legal, though I agree that if they are (they are completely untested) they depend on existing loopholes that urgently need to be removed. And I also agree with Lincoln that far more than merely legal opinions, or indeed court cases, is involved: Yes, there all manner of "moral, ethical and social considerations", namely about the kind of society one wants to live in, and indeed it were considerations such as these that convinced Edward Snowden that he should become a whistleblower.

There is considerably more there, which shows that Lincoln at least has a mind and that he uses it, which I leave to you, except for the ending:

He said security chiefs need to be more willing to explain and engage with the public: "The approach of 'why are you challenging us, we are the good guys' doesn't wash … The 'looking for a needle in a haystack' argument has so far been unconvincing. I haven't been convinced."

"National security", the justification for mass surveillance revealed by Snowden, was too nebulous a term and needed better definition.

Yes, indeed - and I'd like to remark that he does sound a bit like William Binney and Thomas Drake, who were quite happy to work for the NSA as long as that did work in a (mostly) legal fashion, and who were no radicals at all (and very probably are not, either).

4. Call to open RAF base for investigation into NSA tapping of Merkel's phone

The next item is an article by Nicholas Watt on The Guardian:

This article starts as follows:

Britain should grant Germany's federal prosecutor access to an RAF base which is alleged to have acted as a relay station for data intercepted from Angela Merkel's mobile phone by the US National Security Agency (NSA), the Labour MP Tom Watson has said.

In a letter to the prime minister Watson said that full British co-operation with Harald Range, the German federal prosecutor who has announced an investigation into the alleged tapping of Merkel's mobile phone, would ensure that Anglo-German relations are not damaged.

Der Spiegel last year revealed that Merkel's phone had been tapped after an investigation based on the NSA files leaked by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

I say. There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but it seems to me to be very unlikely to happen.

5. WikiLeaked Doc Reveals Wall Street Plan for Global Financial Deregulation

The next item is an article by the Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams:

This article starts as follows:

WikiLeaks published a previously tightly-held and secretive draft of a trade document on Thursday that, if enacted, would give the world's financial powers an even more dominant position to control the global economy by avoiding regulations and public accountability.

Known as a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), the draft represents the negotiating positions of the U.S. and E.U. and lays out the deregulatory strategies championed by some of the world's largest banks and investment firms.

According to WikiLeaks:

Despite the failures in financial regulation evident during the 2007-2008 Global Financial Crisis and calls for improvement of relevant regulatory structures, proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets. The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multi-nationals – mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt – into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers. The leaked draft also shows that the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.

I take it this "uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data" would, of course, all end up in Utah, in the offices of the NSA. Well, I a firm proponent of regulations, for that is what I pay taxes for: "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society", and a civilized society arises from publicly approved regulations - and see my Crisis + DSM-5: It's the deregulation, stupid!

There is also this:

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, said the deal described in the draft, if approved by national governments, would be a disaster for any regulatory efforts designed to put a check on global finance.

In a statement responding to the TISA draft released by WikiLeaks on Thursday, Wallach said:

“If the text that was leaked today went into force, it would roll back the improvements made after the global financial crisis to safeguard consumers and financial stability and cement us into the extreme deregulatory model of the 1990s that led to the crisis in the first place and the billions in losses to consumers and governments.

"This is a text that big banks and financial speculators may love but that could do real damage to the rest of us. It includes a provision that is literally called ‘standstill’ that would forbid countries from improving financial regulation and would lock them into whatever policies they had on the books in the past.”

Thus, the deregulators want to regulate their deregulation - which only serve the rich few.

6. Wikileaks Exposes Super Secret, Regulation-Gutting Financial Services Pact

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:
This also deals with TISA (see: previous item) but from a somewhat different perspective, that shows how well and and how honestly the press prints all the news that is fit to print:

Wikileaks published an April draft of a critical section of pending “trade” deal called the Trade in Services Agreement, which is being negotiated among 50 countries, including the US, the member nations of the EU, Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, South Korea, and Switzerland. TISA would liberalize, as in reduce the ability of nations to regulate, a large range of services.

The document that Wikileaks exposed on Thursday is a portion of the financial services section. It is clearly designed to serve the pet interests of big international players. This agreement is designed to institutionalize the current level of deregulation as a baseline and facilitate the introduction of new products, further ease the movement of funds, data, and key personnel, and facilitate cross-border acquisitions and other forms of market entry.

It is distressing to see how the media is pointedly ignoring this damning Wikileaks revelation. As of this hour, my Google News search does not show a single mainstream media outlet reporting on this story. .

Indeed: The press these days - for the most part: there still are a few exceptions, such as The Guardian - works very ill, is quite dishonest, and thus succeeds in ignoring and not even mentioning many of the most important decisions of almost any kind, while it keeps their readers fully informed about soccer and quaint news about silly individuals, that at most will harm the individuals.

There also is quite a bit more that analyses the TISA, which shows it is the wet dream of the mega-rich, and also that this is again a deep secret, which is done wholly behind the backs of the peoples and representatives they wish to lord over:

The TISA text is classified for five years after it becomes effective or negotiations are terminated (..)

You can read the analysis yourself. I only quote the ending, which is about the nicely smiling and kind president Obama, who means so very, very well:

If readers had any doubt, this Wikileaks release should settle conclusively that Obama’s finance-friendly policies were not the product of his letting Geithner manage that store, but one of his major initiatives. A deal that cedes national sovereignity and puts in place the conditions for an even more spectacular financial train wreck is treasonous. But loyalty to communities or countries is so
20th century, and Obama has always styled himself as someone who looks forward, not back.

7. Partial Disclosure

The last item is by Sue Halpern on the New York Review of Books, whose July issue is going to be about (I quote) "Power!":

In fact, this is a long article that reviews three books, including Glenn Greenwald's latest, and one film, that are all dedicated to the NSA or Snowden. It also is a good and a clear article, that gives a good overview of what it treats, which is mainly Greenwald's book.

I think you should read it all, especially if you do not know much about surveillance.

I have three quotes, from much more, each about another subject. The first is about the importance of a free press (and I add "free" because that really is essential):

A democracy without a press that is able to track down and publish evidence of malfeasance loses a critical check on unbridled government power. This is why the United States has a free press and a constitutional amendment enshrining it, just as there is a fourth amendment to protect privacy. Reading Greenwald’s account, or watching the Frontline documentary United States of Secrets, or parsing the government’s cases against the New York Times reporter James Risen, who has been under threat of jail for refusing to disclose a source, one sees how both amendments have been compromised by the open-ended “war on terror.” In the words of jailed former CIA analyst John Kiriakou, who leaked information about torture to reporters and in the process revealed the name of a colleague:

First, it was anarchism, then socialism, then communism. Now, it’s terrorism. Any whistleblower who goes public in the name of protecting human rights or civil liberties is accused of helping the terrorists.
Quite so. And I remark that "terrorism" was and is utter bullshit, when compared with the threat of terror from the Soviet Union from 1950-1989: That had huge and well-trained armies and lots of atomic bombs, while the "terrorists" have nothing of the kind. This is also what moved me, already in 2005, to insist that terrorism was a pretext, and everything I've read, seen and heard since only bolstered that up.

The next quote is about personalizing Greenwald (and I removed a notenumber):

In his review of Greenwald’s book, Kinsley calls Greenwald a “sourpuss” and chastises him for a number of personality defects. This has been a common theme in the book’s reviews, especially those written by mainstream journalists. They don’t like Greenwald’s attitude. And the reason they don’t like his attitude is because, for the most part, he doesn’t like theirs. As much as No Place to Hide is a catalog of the many ways the government casts wide spy nets using computers and cell phones, it is also one man’s rage against the corporate journalism machine, in which most reporters and editors and newspaper companies are cast as spineless government collaborators. Greenwald is indignant, self-righteous, and self-aggrandizing—but so what? It’s a red herring, just as focusing on Snowden—who is he, where is he—is a distraction. The matter at hand is not their story; as long as this is a democracy, it has to be ours.
Yes, indeed.

My final quote is the ending:

Though it is too early to know if any of the proposed reforms will be meaningful, and history bends toward cynicism, the need for radical change, at least, has been made clear in many forums, including the President’s Review Group. Why this matters was put most succinctly in the group’s report:

We cannot discount the risk, in light of the lessons of our own history, that at some point in the future, high-level government officials will decide that this massive database of extraordinarily sensitive private information is there for the plucking. Americans must never make the mistake of wholly “trusting” our public officials.

In that regard, the president’s men could not agree more with Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden.

Yes. And as I said, there is a whole lot more under the last dotted link, and it is all informative.
---------------------------------
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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