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Nederlog


  July
12, 2014
Crisis: Guardian, NSA, surveillance, civil rights, Germany, Snowden, 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.
Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims
     on Guardian Laptop Destruction

2. NSA chief knew of Snowden file destruction by Guardian
     in UK

3. This surveillance bill puts our hard-won freedom in peril
4.
Civil Rights Organizations Demand Answers From White
     House on Surveillance of Muslim Leaders

5. Germany demands public promise from US to end spying
6. Russian Officials Likely to Extend Asylum for Edward
     Snowden

7. Personal
 

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of July 12. It is an ordinary crisis log.

Most items take up earlier points I raised in the crisis issues, but I really like item 3.

1.  Newly Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims on Guardian Laptop Destruction

The first item is an article by
Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
On July 20, 2013, agents of the U.K. government entered The Guardian newsroom in London and compelled them to physically destroy the computers they were using to report on the Edward Snowden archive. The Guardian reported this a month later after my partner, David Miranda, was detained at Heathrow Airport for 11 hours under a British terrorism law and had all of his electronic equipment seized. At the time, the Obama administration—while admitting that it was told in advance of the Heathrow detention — pretended that it knew nothing about the forced laptop destruction and would never approve of such attacks on press freedom.
The pretention is shown by what then-deputy Whitehouse press secretary Josh Earnest said, which I skip, after which we get this:

But emails just obtained by Associated Press pursuant to a Freedom o Information Act request (FOIA) prove that senior Obama national security officials— including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-NSA chief Keith Alexander—not only knew in advance that U.K. officials intended to force The Guardian to destroy their computers, but overtly celebrated it.

One email, dated July 19 (the day prior to the destruction) bears the subject line “Guardian data being destroyed” and is from NSA deputy director Richard Ledgett to Alexander. He writes: “Good news, at least on this front.” The next day, almost immediately after the computers were destroyed, Alexander emailed Ledgett: ”Can you confirm this actually occurred?” Hours later, under the same subject line, Clapper emailed Alexander, saying: “Thanks Keith … appreciate the conversation today”.

Of course this opens a related issue or stance, namely "But did Obama know this?!", which gets treated as follows:
Now we have proof that Obama’s most senior officials were aware in advance of the very events that Obama’s spokesman pretended they knew nothing about. It’s possible, though unlikely in the extreme, that both Clapper and Alexander knew about this and neglected to tell anyone in the White House. Incredibly claiming that Obama was unaware of what his most senior national security officials get caught doing is this administration’s modus operandi: See, for instance, this and this. But that should raise the question—yet again—of whether these national security agencies are completely rogue and operating without any controls.
Yes, I agree - and it also seems to be quite possible that "these national security agencies are completely rogue and operating without any controls", although I might have inserted "effective government" before "controls": it certainly seems as if the NSA, CIA and FBI these days have so very many special privileges, secrets and classified documents, that this makes their effective oversight by Congress or indeed by the government quite impossible.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link, also on some other subjects.

2.  NSA chief knew of Snowden file destruction by Guardian in UK  

The next item is an article by James Ball on The Guardian:

This treats the same theme as I quoted in item 1 (where also some other themes are treated), and starts as follows:

General Keith Alexander, the then director of the NSA, was briefed that the Guardian was prepared to make a largely symbolic act of destroying documents from Edward Snowden last July, new documents reveal.

The revelation that Alexander and Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, were advised on the Guardian's destruction of several hard disks and laptops contrasts markedly with public White House statements that distanced the US from the decision.

White House and NSA emails obtained by Associated Press under freedom of information legislation demonstrate how pleased Alexander and his colleagues were with the developments. At times the correspondence takes a celebratory tone, with one official describing the anticipated destruction as "good news".

Note the "largely symbolic" in the first paragraph: The reason this destruction was symbolic is that (1) Snowden's files were also on other places than on computers of The Guardian and (2) this was clearly said to the English government officials - but they wanted to destroy The Guardian's computers nevertheless.

This also shows what the NSA is: It is a terrorist organization funded by the state to steal everyone's privacy on the pretext that this must happen in "The War On Terror" so as "to keep everyone secure". Yes, it is as twisted as that: They gather information, which they steal, and the information is gathered to enable the physical suppression of anybody or anything who is or will be against such a government - or at least: That seems the fair conclusion of what secret spy and security agencies do and have done everywhere since the beginning of civilization.

3. This surveillance bill puts our hard-won freedom in peril

The next item is an article by Harry Leslie Smith on The Guardian:

I agree with the writer, although it seems to me more serious: it denies the freedoms one has had for the last 95 years, and it does this by going against a decision of the European Court of Justice.

This is from the first paragraph:

We have been lectured by newsreaders, prime ministers and security pundits that terrorism will invade our shores and take away our freedoms, unless we allow our state, spy agencies and police departments to monitor us through endless trawling of our meta data, emails and private phone conversations.

Yes, indeed - and might the "newsreaders, prime ministers and security pundits" not have been lying or spreading propaganda to enable "our state, spy agencies and police departments to" spy on us, steal our data, and thus make the arrival of an authoritarian state very much more probable?

That seems to me a far more likely story than the story the state's agents and its tame media try to give about "terrorism" (which is: without armies, without atom bombs, without territory, and not worth 1% of 1% of 1% of the terrorist threat the Soviet Union posed - at which time freedoms in the West were much larger).

Harry Leslie Smith also says:

The introduction next week of the data retention and investigatory powers bill by this government is therefore disturbing because it will needlessly compel phone and internet companies to retain our online lives, browsing history, texts, emails and intimate, mundane conversations with friends, family and colleagues. It is being hammered through parliament because Cameron tells us he does not wish to see a catastrophic terrorist attack while he is in charge. I grant his intention is noble, but if parliament doesn't properly, honestly debate this bill they will make a mockery of democracy and the Westminster system.

I agree, except that I do not believe at all that Cameron's "intention is noble": I believe he lies, as I also believe I.F. Stone's principle "All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed" is the only correct principle to approach "the news" that is relayed by any government - and please note there is no "always" before "lie": sometimes they do not lie, and other times they do, and that is the reason "nothing they say should be believed" and one needs independent evidence to verify anything they say.

Harry Leslie Smith - who is 90 or 91 - also says:

For the government to have private corporations store so much information about us without earnest, prolonged debate and reflection by parliament is more than an affront to our country's long-held belief in privacy, in our right to freedom of thought and movement; it is an affront to human progress. Since the dark ages, human society has fought to remove the yoke of state and feudal control. Freedom is the most sacred burden that all people must fight to preserve. The right to privacy, to worship, to assemble, to be a member of a union, to dissent, to choose, and to love and be loved regardless of one's sexual orientation, are all at risk if this bill becomes law. It took centuries of struggle for our nation to acquire the attributes of a civilised and just society. But they can vanish in a moment if our elected representatives fail to defend those rights in parliament.

Yes, quite so! Here is his last paragraph:

The data retention and investigatory powers bill will not make British citizens safer in their everyday lives, nor will it protect us from terrorists, organised crime or keep our children out of harm's way. All it will do is put a leash on the human spirit and deaden the hearts of those who desire to live in a free and liberal nation. It is incumbent upon our parliament to debate this bill and mitigate its omnipotence. Otherwise this new set of surveillance laws will be used to draw an iron curtain across freedom and democracy in Britain.

Yes, indeed. And it did not get properly debated: in fact it was pushed through by the three political leaders - who all smell absolute power in their nostrils, which "absolutely corrupts", as Lord Acton said.

I have quoted most of this, simply because I agree: This is a good article. 

4. Civil Rights Organizations Demand Answers From White House on Surveillance of Muslim Leaders

The next item is an article by Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

In the wake of our story this morning reporting on the FBI and NSA’s monitoring of prominent Muslim-Americans, a coalition of 44 civil rights groups organized by the American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter to President Obama demanding  a “full public accounting” of the government’s “targeting of community leaders” for surveillance. Separately, the White House told the Guardian that it has asked the intelligence community to “review their training and policy materials for racial or religious bias” after we published an internal instructional memo that referred to a hypothetical surveillance target as “Mohammed Raghead.”

I agree with the letter. And I also think the contents of that letter are more serious than the one Politically Correct topic the Obama administration did react to: That some fool named Muslims as "Mohammed Raghead". I agree it is distasteful, but I insist that the signing away of people's freedoms, rights and privacy by the Obama administration is a far bigger crime.

5. Germany demands public promise from US to end spying

The next item
is an article by Dan Roberts on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Germany is determined to extract a public commitment from the US over future spying activity during talks with John Kerry this weekend, despite a White House preference to try to mend their battered diplomatic relationship behind closed doors.

Secretary of state Kerry is due to meet his counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Vienna for Iranian nuclear talks, but senior German diplomats say that securing a satisfactory response to recent espionage allegations will be their top priority.

"Everything is overshadowed by this," one high-ranking German official told the Guardian on Friday. "This will be the lead item."

This is just one anonymous "high-ranking German official", but there is considerably more evidence that the Germans indeed are angry (and rightfully so, in my view):

Anger is running so high in Berlin that several earlier overtures by the US have this week been rejected by Berlin, which instead asked the CIA's station chief to leave the country.

The Guardian has confirmed that CIA director John Brennan previously offered to come to Germany to discuss its concerns but has so far been rebuffed by officials in Berlin, who believe he must commit to something more substantive before they agree to meet.

Then again this might be all diplomacy. We shall see - and at least Merkel (who also lived in East Germany) does not seem to have the - authoritarian, absolutist - fondness of Obama and Cameron for spying on everyone.

6. Russian Officials Likely to Extend Asylum for Edward Snowden

The next and last crisis item for today is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Edward Snowden is seeking to extend his stay in Russia, where he has been granted asylum from the U.S. after releasing documents on the NSA's surveillance programs around the world, and officials at the Kremlin confirmed to state media that the new permit is likely to be approved.

“I do not see any problem in extending the temporary political asylum,” migration official Vladimir Volokh told the Russian news service Interfax. “Circumstances have not changed. Snowden’s life is still in danger; therefore the Federal Migration Service has every basis to prolong his status.”

Snowden initially took refuge in Moscow in 2013, where he became stranded on his way to Cuba, after U.S. officials revoked his passport and charged him with espionage and theft of government property.

That is nice to know (or so I think).

7. Personal

The personal remark for today is that making the present file took rather more time and trouble than I thought, because my mouse ceased to work. Yes, the cure was simple: Buy another mouse and install it, and indeed that worked, but then we had moved on at least two hours.

Anyway - there probably will be more crisis news tomorrow, and I am also busy on two Dutch items for Nederlog that do not belong to the crisis series. And now I am going to cycle.

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

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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