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Nederlog


  July
6, 2014
Crisis: NSA *4, Congress, Reich, CIA, Monty Python
   "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. NSA intercepts: ordinary internet users 'far
     outnumbered' legal targets

2. Congress is* in session
3. THE POLITICS AND ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY: A
     LECTURE TO THE TOP ONE-TENTH OF 1 PERCENT

4.
CIA Employee 'Ruined' for Efforts to Declassify Agency
     Docs

5. The NSA Said Edward Snowden Had No Access to
     Surveillance Intercepts. They Lied.

6. NSA Targets As “Extremists” Americans Who Simply Wish
     to Protect Themselves from Oppression

7. NSA Experts: 'National Security Has Become a State
     Religion'

8. Monty Python Live (Mostly) review – Parrot fashion and
     no bad thing for that


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

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 new
Guardian review of Monty Python (still three stars, but a much better review).
The others are crisis items, and as it happens quite a few are about the NSA.
(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' legal targets

The first item is an article by Associated Press on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

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 Washington Post.

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 computer networks.

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!

2. Congress is* in session 

The next item is an article by Dana Milbank on The Washington Post:

This starts as follows:

The 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:
Congress has 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:

As I said: It is the full and great force of the American Democratic Process at work, for your interest, if you are American. Be proud! Be thankful for your leaders!

3. THE POLITICS AND ECONOMICS OF INEQUALITY: A LECTURE TO THE TOP ONE-TENTH OF 1 PERCENT

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

It starts as follows:

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 am poor.)

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).

4. CIA Employee 'Ruined' for Efforts to Declassify Agency Docs

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

This starts as follows:
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 practices.

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:
Greenwald's link is to the original Greg Miller article.

5. The NSA Said Edward Snowden Had No Access to Surveillance Intercepts. They Lied.

The next item
is an article by Kevin Drum on Mother Jones, that addresses the same subject as item 1 did:
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 from bystanders.
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 surveillance.

Note the "described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained" and the "9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection".

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.

And see item 2.

6. NSA Targets As “Extremists” Americans Who Simply Wish to Protect Themselves from Oppression

The next item
is an article by Washington's Blog on his blog:
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:

  • Merely 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 getting detained
7. NSA Experts: 'National Security Has Become a State Religion'

The next item
is an article by Sven Becker, Marcel Rosenbach and Jörg Schindler on Spiegel On Line International:
This is an interview with Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Drake (misdescribed in the article once as "Richard"). This is the beginning of the interview:
SPIEGEL: 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?

Drake: It 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 the NSA.

SPIEGEL: Ms. Radack, do you have an explanation for the German federal prosecutor's position?

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.

Here is a bit from the middle (that supports what I have been saying since 2005):

SPIEGEL: What is the true reason for the data collection?

Radack: It's about population control. And economic espionage.

And again, a bit further on:

SPIEGEL: Information from US intelligence services allegedly helped lead to the arrest of members of the Sauerland terrorist group that was planning attacks in Germany.

Radack: I'm not denying this is possible, but the vast majority of this, 99.9 percent, is not about security. It's about controlling people and information.

Drake: Yes, this is where we get to the dark side of that whole surveillance apparatus. It takes the Stasi motto of knowing everything on a new level. In order to know it all, the NSA collects it all.

This is a good interview, and you should read it all.

8. Monty Python Live (Mostly) review – Parrot fashion and no bad thing for that

Finally for today an article by Stephanie Merritt on The Guardian:
This is here because I reviewed an earlier review of the same show on The Guardian four days ago, that seems to have been mostly about the need for money of the reviewer and his envy for Monty Python's income.

Anyway... the present piece passes for a decent review (and she didn't like everything either, and neither does she have to).


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

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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