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. Shredding the Fourth Amendment
2. GDP Hits Air Pocket:
Recession Warning or
3. Supreme Court Says
Warrants Needed To Search Cell
Are "Stingrays" a Police Workaround?
4. What Americans Need to Know
About the History of
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.
the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America
item is an article by Peter Van Buren
(<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams, but originally on TomDispatch:
This starts as follows, with
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:
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.
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.”
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
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.
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
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.
is this, which is new for me:
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.
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
There is a lot more there, and it ends like this:
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.
2. GDP Hits Air Pocket: Recession Warning
or False Alarm?
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.
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
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
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
item is an article by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
Phones, But Are "Stingrays" a Police Workaround?
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
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
warrants on listening in on conversations by ordinary telephones, and
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.
Americans Need to Know About the History of Spying
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
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
relabeled “dissidents” as “terrorists” so he could continue
spying on them.
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
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
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.
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
- “Americans opposed to
the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups“
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
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
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
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
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
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.
am not certain yet: it will depend on what I will find.
 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.)
(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: