This is the Nederlog of July
6. It is an ordinary crisis log.
There are 9 items spread over 8 sections, but the last one is about a
Guardian review of Monty Python (still three stars, but a much better
The others are crisis items, and as it happens quite a few are about
(Not selected on purpose by me: it just happened that way.)
This has been uploaded a bit earlier than normal (and I may go cycling).
1. NSA intercepts: ordinary internet users 'far outnumbered'
item is an article by Associated Press on The Guardian:
When the US National
Security Agency (NSA) intercepted the online accounts of legally
targeted foreigners over a four-year period it also collected the
conversations of nine times as many ordinary internet users, both
Americans and non-Americans, according to an investigation by the
Nearly half of those
surveillance files contained names, email addresses or other details
that the NSA marked as belonging to US citizens or residents, the
Post reported in a story posted on its website on Saturday night.
While the federal agency tried to protect their privacy by masking more
than 65,000 such references to individuals, the newspaper said it found
nearly 900 additional email addresses that could be strongly linked to
US citizens or residents.
The intercepted messages
contained material of considerable intelligence value, the Post
reported, such as information about a secret overseas nuclear project,
double-dealing by an ostensible ally, a military calamity that befell
an unfriendly power and the identities of aggressive intruders into US
I am not amazed, for the
NSA covers at least three 'hops': Those investigated; their contacts;
and the contacts of their contacts. And then you get this:
The material reviewed by
the Post included roughly 160,000 intercepted email and instant-message
conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents
taken from more than 11,000 online accounts. It spanned president
Barack Obama's first term, 2009 to 2012, and was provided to the Post
by the former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.
The daily lives of more
than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted were catalogued and
recorded, the Post reported. The newspaper described that material as
telling "stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons,
mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial
anxieties and disappointed hopes".
The material collected
included more than 5,000 private photos, the paper said.
Note especially the
second paragraph: it's so nice being a governmental spy spying on everyone,
completely anonymously, with every minister and many papers lying for
and about you! Real democracy, Bush-and-Obama style!
is* in session
item is an article by Dana Milbank on The Washington Post:
people’s representatives can’t agree on much of anything these days —
even calling a recess.
When senators and members of
the House went home for their Independence Day break, they didn’t, or
couldn’t, agree on an adjournment resolution. So they did what they
usually do: They went into “pro-forma session,” a status when they are
technically working but don’t actually do anything. Come to think of
it, that’s pretty much how it is when they’re in town, too.
And here you see the
full and great force of the American Democratic Process at work:
passed just 56 public laws this year, for a total of 121 since the
beginning of 2013. This virtually guarantees the current Congress will
be the least productive in history, well behind the “do nothing”
Congress of 1948, which passed more than 900 bills. And many of the 121
bills are not exactly weighty (H.R. 1071: “To specify the size of the
precious-metal blanks that will be used in the production of the
National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins.”)
Then again, these folks
work really hard:
On Monday, the
House opened for business at 11:30 a.m. — and after 3 minutes and 18
seconds (time for an opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance) it
recessed until a similar charade scheduled for Thursday. The Senate
gaveled in at noon Monday and, dispensing with prayer and pledge,
gaveled out 28 seconds later.
Here is another item on
it, which indeed led me to the above article. It is by TYT and is a
video of 4 m 0 s:
Here’s the Aspen Lecture
I gave recently at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival. The irony of
talking about inequality with an audience composed almost entirely of
the richest one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans was not lost on me.
When I suggested that we return to the 70 percent income-tax rate on
top incomes that prevailed before 1981, many looked as if I had punched
them in the gut.
I do not know how Reich
knew that he was talking to "an
audience composed almost entirely of the richest one-tenth of 1 percent
of Americans". Also, I do not
know whether "many looked as if I
had punched them in the gut" when
he told them 70% tax is fair on billionaires: it will not make
them less of billionaires, for one thing, because the 30% left is still
an enormous amount of money, but the 0.1% of 1% indeed may have
beeb raised on the morality of "greed is good". (I wasn't, and indeed I
Anyway, here it is:
I did not watch it yet, and
if I do I may not see all, for I am not fond of talking heads, but
Reich is a good lecturer (such as I never had at the
University of Amsterdam, where the average level was atrocious).
Employee 'Ruined' for Efforts to Declassify Agency Docs
item is an article
by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
In the controversy
surrounding Edward Snowden's decision to leak numerous classified
National Security Agency documents, one of the repeated critiques
levied by his critics is that the former intelligence contractor should
have gone through "propper channels" to voice his concerns about the
agency's far-reaching—and what he judged unlawful—surveillance
However, according to new
reporting by the Washington Post's Greg Miller, a
similarly concerned CIA agent who attempted to get information he
thought the public had a right to know discovered just how difficult
and perilous efforts to "work within the system" can be.
Miller's report tells the
tale of Jeffrey Scudder, a veteran CIA employee, whose career faltered
after he made efforts to have long-classified agency materials—"a stack
of articles, hundreds of histories of long-dormant conflicts and
operations"—released to the public.
As part of his effort,
Scudder submitted a completely lawful Freedom of Information Act
request, which set off a "harrowing sequence" of events. According to
Miller, Scudder "was confronted by supervisors and accused of
mishandling classified information while assembling his FOIA request.
His house was raided by the FBI and his family’s computers seized." The
fifty-one-year ultimately resigned after being threatened that if he
did not, he risked losing portions of his pension.
And indeed this merits
Greenwald's comment, that is also quoted:
Here's what happens to
people in the intelligence community when they use "proper procedures"
to disclose information http://t.co/GLyFwrW10T
This starts as follows (and I
suppressed a note and a graphic):
For more than a
year, NSA officials have insisted that although Edward Snowden had
access to reports about NSA surveillance, he didn't have
access to the actual surveillance intercepts themselves. It turns out
they were lying. In fact, he provided the Washington Post
with a cache of 22,000 intercept reports containing 160,000 individual
intercepts. The Post has spend months reviewing these files
and estimates that 11 percent of the intercepted accounts belonged to
NSA targets and the remaining 89 percent were "incidental" collections
Here are two paragraphs quoted
from the original article in The Washington Post:
Many other files, described
as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a
startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of
love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises,
political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and
disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders
who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.
....If Snowden’s sample
is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and
Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a
June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s
collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental
collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would
correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under
Note the "described as useless by the analysts
but nonetheless retained"
and the "9-to-1 ratio of
Here is the last
paragraph of Kevin Drum's footnote:
Jesus. If someone in
Congress isn't seriously pissed off about this obvious evasion, they
might as well just hang up their oversight spurs and disband.
This is a good article you
should read all of. Here is one bit from it:
Tor was created – largely
with funding from the U.S. government – in order to allow
people who live in repressive authoritarian regimes to communicate
anonymously on the Internet.
So it is ironic that the
NSA targets as “extremists” (the word the U.S. government uses for
“probable terrorists”) anyone who uses Tor or any other privacy tool …
or even searches
for information on privacy tools on the Internet.
Jacob Appelbaum and other
privacy experts explain
at Das Erste:
searching the web for the privacy-enhancing software tools
outlined in the XKeyscore rules causes the NSA to mark and track the IP
address of the person doing the search. Not only are German privacy
software users tracked, but the source code shows that privacy software
users worldwide are tracked by the NSA.
Among the NSA’s
targets is the Tor network funded primarily by the US government to aid
democracy advocates in authoritarian states.
And here are three points (of
quite a few more):
Protesting against the
government’s claimed power to indefinitely detain anyone without charge
… could result in your
an interview with Jesselyn Radack
Drake (misdescribed in the article once as "Richard"). This is the
beginning of the interview:
Germany's federal prosecutor has opened a formal inquiry into the
surveillance of Angela Merkel's mobile phone, but he did not open an
investigation into the mass surveillance of German citizens, saying
that there was no evidence to do so. Mr. Drake, as a former NSA
employee, what's your take on this?
stretches the bounds of incredulity. Germany has become, after 9/11,
the most important surveillance platform for the NSA abroad. The only
German citizen granted protection by a statement by Barack Obama is
Angela Merkel. All other Germans are obviously treated as suspects by
Radack, do you have an explanation for the German federal prosecutor's
Radack: Of course.
They don't want to find out the truth. Either they're complicit to some
extent or they don't really care to investigate.
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: