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Nederlog


  June
27, 2014
Crisis: 4th Amendment, Crisis?, SCOTUS, Spying, Personal
   "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. Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional
     America

2. GDP Hits Air Pocket: Recession Warning or False Alarm?
3. Supreme Court Says Warrants Needed To Search Cell
     Phones, But Are "Stingrays" a Police Workaround?

4. What Americans Need to Know About the History of
     Spying

5. Personal

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of June 27. It is an ordinary crisis log.

There were only four items I could find, but several are interesting: See item 1 and item 4, and indeed perhaps item 2. And item 3 is nice, but is - for what I quoted - about the good SCOTUS decision I already commented on yesterday.

1. Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

The first item is an article by Peter Van Buren (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams, but originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows, with an introduction:
Here’s a bit of history from another America: the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people's wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that the government should neither be able to stop citizens from speaking nor peer into their lives. Think of that as the essence of the Constitutional era that ended when those towers came down on September 11, 2001.
Or indeed with the awarding of the presidential election to Bush Jr. - who did not win the elections - with the help of the Supreme Court.

And it then starts as follows:

A response to British King George’s excessive invasions of privacy in colonial America, the Fourth Amendment pulls no punches: “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.

In Post-Constitutional America, the government might as well have taken scissors to the original copy of the Constitution stored in the National Archives, then crumpled up the Fourth Amendment and tossed it in the garbage can. The NSA revelations of Edward Snowden are, in that sense, not just a shock to the conscience but to the Fourth Amendment itself: our government spies on us. All of us. Without suspicion. Without warrants. Without probable cause. Without restraint. This would qualify as “unreasonable” in our old constitutional world, but no more.

Here, then, are four ways that, in the name of American “security” and according to our government, the Fourth Amendment no longer really applies to our lives.

I agree, though I have a minor criticism: I do not need to accept, and indeed do not accept, the changes in meanings, definitions and laws that have emerged the last 13 years. In fact, I think most of these changes were intentionally fraudulent changes, namely by doublespeak, lies or classifying documents (95 million in 2011 alone), and that is, for me at least, undemocratic, unfree closed government, I see no reason for, and all reasons against.

Then again, (1) I agree the US government does say it considers the changes it itself furthered by doublespeak, lies or classifying documents, as "reasonable", which itself is an unreasonable use of "reasonable", while (2) since I am Dutch and not American, this effects me less (though traditionally and factually the Dutch are proud followers of many US policies), simply because (3) the Dutch laws differ from the American ones.

Next, as to the four criticisms, I only make some brief selections, and you are adviced to read all of the last dotted link.

Here is one very common practice that voids the Fourth Amendment:
If the FBI today came to your home and demanded access to your emails, it would require a warrant obtained from a court after a show of probable cause to get them. If, however, the Department of Justice can simply issue a subpoena to Google to the same end, they can potentially vacuum up every Gmail message you’ve ever sent without a warrant and it won’t constitute a “search.” The DOJ has continued this practice even though in 2010 a federal appeals court ruled that bulk warrantless access to email violates the Fourth Amendment.
Note that - as Van Buren explains - a subpoena is quite different from a warrant; the subpoena makes it possible to demand all mails by one or even all mails of all customers; it is not considered a search because the DoJ does not do the search itself; and one reason you will not hear from Google etc. is that they are forbidden to speak.

Here is another point that many people still do not properly grasp:
In scale, scope, and sheer efficiency, the systems now being employed inside the U.S. by the NSA and other intelligence agencies are something quite new and historically significant. Size matters.
Yes. Put simply, this is the first time in human history that enormous electronic files can be made that contain everything anyone did with a computer or cell phone, and this gives enormous wholly unprecedented powers to the government, its bureaucrats and those it contracts, that also are kept as secret as possible, and these files are being made, in fact quite regardless of standing laws that forbid this, since "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely", as Lord Acton very wisely said.

Then there is this, which is new for me:

Congress passed the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) in 1996 “to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected.” You likely signed a HIPPA agreement at your doctor's office, granting access to your records. However, Congress quietly amended the HIPPA Act in 2002 to permit disclosure of those records for national security purposes. Specifically, the new version of this “privacy law” states: “We may also disclose your PHI [Personal Health Information] to authorized federal officials as necessary for national security and intelligence activities.” The text is embedded deep in your health care provider’s documentation. Look for it.

How does this work? We don’t know.
Clearly, that is utter baloney: Your health is not related to "national security and intelligence activities” - except that the US government decided it is, I presume because they have learned from Ellsberg's case: Now they can lap up all the things you have shared with your doctor, relying on medical secrecy - but your doctor has to deliver all to the government.

There is a lot more there, and it ends like this:
In totalitarian states of the last century like the Soviet Union, people dealt with their lack of rights and privacy with grim humor and subtle protest. However, in America, ever exceptional, citizens passively watch their rights disappear in the service of dark ends, largely without protest and often while still celebrating a land that no longer exists.
Yes, indeed.

2. GDP Hits Air Pocket: Recession Warning or False Alarm? 

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism:

This starts with a report from the Washington Post:

In case you managed to miss it, the GDP revision yesterday morning was stunningly bad. The contraction was 2.9%, revised downwards from 1%. This was both the biggest fall since the fourth quarter of 2008, when GDP fell by 8.9%, and the largest revision of the second GDP estimate since the inception of this report, in 1976.

The Washington Post gave a good overview:

But this recovery has a way of moving out of reach just when we think we’re getting close. The International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve have already pushed back their forecasts for liftoff from the grinding economy to next year. The new reading of first quarter GDP could move the ball even farther. A 3 percent annual growth rate is starting to seem like the promise made by the White Queen in “Alice in Wonderland”: Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.

Particularly disturbing in this revision was the downgrade in consumer spending. The American shopper was supposed to be the bright spot in this recovery, reliably trudging to the malls and filling their online shopping carts despite government shutdowns and wintry snowstorms. Consumer spending jumped 3.3 percent at the end of last year, and the data initially showed a similarly strong increase during the first quarter. Wednesday’s release showed the cracks in that pillar.

A significant portion of that revision was due to overestimates of how much Americans spent on health care, which has been tricky to measure since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. But Eric Green, head of U.S. rates and economic research for TD Securities, said that even if those assumptions had been neutral, GDP still would have fallen at a 2.7 percent annual rate. There were other downward moves, as well. The 8.9 percent decline in exports was larger than previously reported. The buildup in inventories was a slightly bigger drag on growth, subtracting 1.7 percentage points.

“In short, GDP was recession-like in Q1, although most other data clearly signal that the decline is an outlier,” wrote Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Recession-like. It is astounding that we are using any variation of that word five years into the recovery.

Well... that requires belief in the supposed fact that we are "five years into the recovery", which I completely deny, that is, except for the 1% of the rich, that indeed may be said to have suffered no recession of any kind: they only got a lot richer, and were not punished at all for the billions they lost or appopriated.

Also, I did not miss this fact, as I also did not miss that very little is made of it in the Dutch press (that, as is usual these days, is full of soccer news, soccer news, more soccer news, plus the doings of media celebs).

So, what to make of this? Yves Smith doesn't really know and neither do I, except that (1) for all I know the recession goes on as it did for the vast majority of the 99% (2) there never was a recession - apart perhaps for 2 weeks in 2008 - for the 1% and (3) I do not see how the majority of the 99% can get out of a recession while their incomes are still falling.

But no, I do not know whether this is the beginning of another crisis, or a bump in the road, or a sign things are and will continue to cave in for most. We will find out, eventually.

3. Supreme Court Says Warrants Needed To Search Cell
Phones, But Are "Stingrays" a Police Workaround?

The next item is an article by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This begins as follows - and I give you only the good news:
The Supreme Court delivered a resounding victory for privacy rights in the age of smartphones Wednesday when it ruled unanimously that police must obtain a warrant before searching the cellphones of people they arrest. The ruling likely applies to other electronic devices, such as laptop computers, which, like cellphones, can store vast troves of information about a person’s private life. The ruling makes no reference to the National Security Agency and its vast web of cellphone spying. But some NSA critics say it signals a greater understanding by the court of today’s technology and its implications for privacy. We get reaction to the ruling from Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. He also discusses police use of "Stingray" spy devices, which mimic cell towers and intercept data from all cellphones in a certain radius.
I agree. There is also this:
AMY GOODMAN: Wednesday’s court ruling makes mention of the National Security Agency and its vast web of cellphone spying. But some NSA critics say it signals a greater understanding by the Supreme Court of today’s technology and its implications for privacy. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the opinion of the court. On the final page, he wrote, "Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.' The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant."

Yes, indeed - and this is quoted because it quotes Justice Roberts, with whom I agree, though I also insist technological innovation is not relevant, while privacy is:

The Fourth Amendment did require warrants on listening in on conversations by ordinary telephones, and did require warrants on opening envelopes and reading the contents of letters, because of privacy considerations - and indeed the same privacy considerations should make, and do make, apart from the lies and totally stretched terminology, cell phones, lap tops and desk top computers private.

There is rather a lot more under the last dotted link, including an explanation of "sting rays", that I leave to you.

4. What Americans Need to Know About the History of Spying

The next and last crisis item is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:

This starts as follows (including the colors in the original):

The Hidden History of Mass Surveillance

Americans are told that we live in a “post-9/11 reality” that requires mass surveillance.

But the NSA was already conducting mass surveillance prior to 9/11 … including surveillance on the 9/11 hijackers.

And top security experts – including the highest-level government officials and the top university experts – say that mass surveillance actually increases terrorism and hurts security. And they say that our government failed to stop the Boston bombing because they were too busy spying on millions of innocent Americans instead of focusing on actual bad guys. 

So why is the government conducting mass surveillance on the American people?

5,000 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent

This is the beginning of a considerable amount of quotations about spying, with which I agree, although I like to remark that mass spying is not the same - not at all - as spying. Spying (without the mass) does not need to be aimed at crushing dissent; mass spying indeed always is.

I will leave the quotations, which are interesting, to your interests, and only quote some more things.

First, there is this - and I quote it as it is in the original:

The East German Stasi obviously used mass surveillance to crush dissent and keep it’s officials in check (and falsely claimed that spying was necessary to protect people against vague threats.)

In 1972, the CIA director .

During the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on Senator Frank Church because of his criticism of the Vietnam War. The NSA also spied on Senator Howard Baker.

Senator Church – the head of a congressional committee investigating Cointelpro – warned in 1975:

[NSA's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.

This is, in fact, what’s happened …

Well...I would like not yet to concede the victory to the NSA, the Pentagon, the CIA and the FBI, though I agree they are close.

Second  - skipping again a lot - there is this:

Glenn Greenwald notes that the list of people targeted for mass surveillance by the American government have included:

  • “Anyone who uses online tools to promote political ideals”
  • Those who express “radical” ideas
  • “Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups“
  • “Non-violent protesters”
  • “Political opponents”
  • “Environmental activists, broad swaths of anti-government rightwing groups, anti-war activists, and associations organised around Palestinian rights
  • “Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, … environmentalists”
  • “The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, black nationalist movements, socialist and communist organizations, … and various rightwing groups”

And the head of the NSA’s digital communications surveillance program, a high-level NSA executive, the NSA whistleblower who was the source of the New York Times’ groundbreaking expose on spying and Edward Snowden have all said that NSA spying is about crushing dissent  … not protecting us from terrorists.

I quite agree, if only because I said so on October 29, 2005 (in Dutch): This is state terrorism that is justified by appeals to "terrorism" that doesn't have 1 % of 1% of 1% of the power the Soviet Union had - which means that therefore everyone is being deceived.

Nowadays, there are fewer who are deceived, but by far the most still trust their governments, while it should be clear that governments never can be trusted, and never should be given the power to spy on everyone, and also that no genuinely democratic government ever would want that or need that.

Third, the article ends as follows:

A Key Characteristic of Fascism

Naomi Wolf notes that mass surveillance is one of the 10 key characteristics of fascism:

In Mussolini’s Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China – in every closed society – secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours.

***

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about “national security”; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

The Constitution Society points out:

The methods used to overthrow a constitutional order and establish a tyranny are well-known.

***

Internal spying and surveillance is the beginning. A sign is false prosecutions of their leaders

Glenn Greenwald writes:

“Doing something wrong” in the eyes of [authoritarian]  institutions encompasses far more than illegal acts, violent behaviour and terrorist plots. It typically extends to meaningful dissent and any genuine challenge. It is the nature of authority to equate dissent with wrongdoing, or at least with a threat.

Even the quintessential defender of the status quo for the powers-that-be – Cass Sunstein – notes that benevolent rulers don’t need to spy on their own people like tyrants do:

As a general rule, tyrants, far more than democratic rulers, need guns, ammunition, spies, and police officers. Their decrees will rarely be self-implementing. Terror is required.

Or "terror", which is what the US government uses: As I said already in 2005, this is a fake, phony and and also a fundamentally treacherous pretext, that merely serves to give the Western goverments virtually unlimited powers over their own inhabitants, of whom they know everything.

Finally, for those who want more: the above reference to Naomi Wolf, from 2007, is interesting and is still available:

Indeed, I may return to this.

5. Personal

This is only to inform you that there may be - namely: if I can find little or nothing on the crisis - in the weekend, that starts tomorrow, some other subjects than the crisis, e.g. about the books I wrote, which are quite a big number, as a matter of fact, and that I never could publish on paper, because I am in the dole, and am not even officially ill, though most of them are on the site (and not quite in the form I would publish them in on paper). Also, I grant most of the books, being quite philosophical, would not find many readers, but even so: I would have tried to publish some of them, if only I could have. I could not.

But I am not certain yet: it will depend on what I will find.

---------------------------------
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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