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."
Obtained Emails Contradict Administration Claims
on Guardian Laptop Destruction
2. NSA chief knew of Snowden
file destruction by Guardian
3. This surveillance bill
puts our hard-won freedom in peril
Rights Organizations Demand Answers From White
House on Surveillance of
5. Germany demands public
promise from US to end spying
6. Russian Officials Likely to
Extend Asylum for Edward
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
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
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
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:
Of course this opens a
related issue or stance, namely "But did Obama know this?!", which gets
treated as follows:
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”.
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
But that should raise the question—yet again—of whether these national
security agencies are completely rogue and operating without any
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
chief knew of Snowden file destruction by Guardian in
item is an article by James Ball on The Guardian:
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.
surveillance bill puts our hard-won freedom in peril
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
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
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
Harry Leslie Smith
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.
Rights Organizations Demand Answers
From White House on Surveillance of Muslim Leaders
item is an article
by Murtaza Hussain on The Intercept:
This starts as
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
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.”
5. Germany demands public promise from US to
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.
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.
Officials Likely to Extend Asylum for Edward Snowden
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.
That is nice to know (or
so I think).
“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.
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.
 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: