14, 2014
Crisis: Snowden, Israel, Cybersecurity, USA, revolving door
  "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

Edward Snowden condemns Britain's emergency
     surveillance bill

2. Israel Is Captive to Its ‘Destructive Process'
3. Aaron Swartz Can’t Fight the New Cybersecurity Bill, So
     We Must Do It

An Exceptional Decline for the Exceptional County? The
     Empire as Basket Case

5. Cyber? Bankers & Gov Officials Steam Up Revolving Door

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of July 14. It is an ordinary crisis log.

1. Edward Snowden condemns Britain's emergency surveillance bill 

The first item is an article by Ewen MacAskill on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

The NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has condemned the new surveillance bill being pushed through the UK's parliament this week, expressing concern about the speed at which it is being done, lack of public debate, fear-mongering and what he described as increased powers of intrusion.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian in Moscow, Snowden said it was very unusual for a public body to pass an emergency law such as this in circumstances other than a time of total war. "I mean we don't have bombs falling. We don't have U-boats in the harbour."

Suddenly it is a priority, he said, after the government had ignored it for an entire year. "It defies belief."

Let me first update you, in case this is needed: There was earlier news about the new British surveillance bill in Nederlog here and here (and I liked the last one).

Next, I think Snowden is quite right: it is a frightening bill and it is pushed through parliament without hardly any discussion, in part through a deal of three party leaders, who all very much want to spy on everyone because this gives them and their successors more power, and possibly also more riches, than ever were possible, and in part by fear-mongering and gross lies to the public.

Then again, this also seems to have been the plan of - at least - Cameron: He never wanted any parliamentary discussion of spying or the GCHQ, and he has waited till the holidays to push this new bill through that give the GCHQ even more powers to spy and steal (and no: I do not care whether this is "legal" or not, as for me this never can be anything but "legal" at best).

There is also this:

David Cameron, searching for cross-party support, assured the Liberal Democrats and Labour that there would be no extension of the powers.

But internal Home Office papers seen by the Guardian appear to confirm that there would be an expansion of powers. Campaigners argue that the bill contains new and unprecedented powers for the UK to require overseas companies to comply with interception warrants and communications data acquisition requests and build interception capabilities into their products and infrastructure.

Which means that Cameron lied, both to the public and to the parliament.

In fact, Ewen MacAskill went to Moscow and spoke for seven hours with Edward Snowden, and the interview will be published later. I will wait till then, and only quote some more about the present problem:

[Snowden] said the government was asking for these "new authorities immediately without any debate, just taking their word for it, despite the fact that these exact same authorities were just declared unlawful by the European court of justice".

He added: "Is it really going to be so costly for us to take a few days to debate where the line should be drawn about the authority and what really serves the public interest?

"If these surveillance authorities are so interested, so invasive, the courts are actually saying they violate fundamental rights, do we really want to authorise them on a new, increased and more intrusive scale without any public debate?"

He said there had been government silence for the last year since he had exposed the scale of surveillance by the NSA and its British partner GCHQ. "And yet suddenly we're told there's a brand new bill that looks like it was written by the National Security Agency that has to be passed in the same manner that a surveillance bill in the United States was passed in 2007, and it has to happen now. And we don't have time to debate it, despite the fact that this was not a priority, this was not an issue that needed to be discussed at all, for an entire year. It defies belief."

I think Snowden is right, but I also think that the English parliament is thoroughly corrupt, with a few exceptions: It is made up of careerists, who are only out to get rich and to further themselves, and are skilled at lying and pretending. This doesn't mean Snowden is mistaken in his claims that there should be a parliamentary debate; it does mean it will very probably also pass with such a debate.

As far as the majority of the English parliament is concerned, and as far as the government is concerned, anything goes as far as spying on the population is concerned: They want a corporatist authoritarian state, and indeed the way this bill is pushed through, by three party leaders, demonstrates this. This is not democratic goverment: this is authoritarian deception.

2. Israel Is Captive to Its ‘Destructive Process' 

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Raul Hilberg in his monumental work “The Destruction of the European Jews” chronicled a process of repression that at first was “relatively mild” but led, step by step, to the Holocaust. It started with legal discrimination and ended with mass murder. “The destructive process was a development that was begun with caution and ended without restraint,” Hilberg wrote.

The Palestinians over the past few decades have endured a similar “destructive process.” They have gradually been stripped of basic civil liberties, robbed of assets including much of their land and often their homes, have suffered from mounting restrictions on their physical movements, been blocked from trading and business, especially the selling of produce, and found themselves increasingly impoverished and finally trapped behind walls and security fences erected around Gaza and the West Bank.

I do not think the analogy is quite correct, in as much as there are - so far? - no concentration camps for Palestinians, but I agree the Israelis have been very unfair to the Palestinians. Then again, Hedges makes the same point in the paragraphs that follow.

He says a lot more, which I do not all agree with, but I agree the situation is very dire.

3. Aaron Swartz Can’t Fight the New Cybersecurity Bill, So We Must Do It

The next item is an article by Thor Benson on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

In late 2011 and early 2012, activists, progressive politicians and Internet companies led in part by Internet freedom advocate Aaron Swartz came together to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Advertised as measures against copyright infringement, the bills would have opened any website that contained copyrighted material it was not authorized to publish on any of its pages to a forced shutdown. A site that unknowingly held a copyrighted image in a comment section, for instance, would have been eligible as a violator. Virtually everyone was susceptible to closure.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) followed SOPA and PIPA in April 2012. CISPA was worse than its predecessors, proposing that private companies be allowed to share user information, a provision that would have violated many privacy protections of the Internet. Recognizing this, Swartz fought again. “It sort of lets the government run roughshod over privacy protections and share personal data about you,” he said of the bill at the time. Again, he prevailed.

Now, a year and a half after Swartz killed himself, there is the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. CISA is a lot like CISPA, but could end up being even worse. Privacy and civil rights groups including the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are standing up to fight it. In an article about the bill, the ACLU’s Sandra Fulton wrote: CISA “poses serious threats to our privacy, gives the government extraordinary powers to silence potential whistleblowers, and exempts these dangerous new powers from transparency laws.” The bill has been approved by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and will move to the Senate soon.

There is quite a bit more under the last dotted link. It is all about how to stop the CISA. Again, as with item 1, this is not evidence of a democratic government, but is evidence of an authoritarian government. And as to that:

4. An Exceptional Decline for the Exceptional County? The Empire as Basket Case

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt on Naked Capitalism (and elsewhere, including tomdispatch, which is Engelhardt's own site):

This starts as follows:
For America’s national security state, this is the age of impunity.  Nothing it does — torture, kidnapping, assassination, illegal surveillance, you name it — will ever be brought to court.  For none of its beyond-the-boundaries acts will anyone be held accountable.  The only crimes that can now be committed in official Washington are by those foolish enough to believe that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.  I’m speaking of the various whistleblowers and leakers who have had an urge to let Americans know what deeds and misdeeds their government is committing in their name but without their knowledge.  They continue to pay a price in accountability for their acts that should, by comparison, stun us all.
That seems basically correct, and the main reasons are the combination of (1) the government with the secret services (both privatized and governmental) on the one hand; and of (2) the government and the large corporations and big banks on the other hand; and this was all enormously facilitated by the corruption of politicians with loads of money from the large corporations and big banks, that in turn was allowed by the Supreme Court.

Also, when I write "combination" I mean that in the sense of mutual entanglement or identification, which gets expressed on one level by the revolving doors between government and big banks and between government and secret services: the very persons are the same and do the same, except that they get much richer when working for a corporation, while they have more power when working for the government.

Here are some of the consequences (or expressions) of this goverment + corporations + banks + secret services merger that has taken place, basically through governmental corruption, that was much helped by the Supreme Court's decisions (and see also item 5):

For the various rent-a-gun companies, construction and supply outfits, and weapons makers that have been the beneficiaries of the wholesale privatization of American war since 9/11, impunity has become the new reality.  Pull back the lens further and the same might be said more generally about America’s corporate sector and its financial outfits.  There was, after all, no accountability for the economic meltdown of 2007-2008.  Not a single significant figure went to jail for bringing the American economy to its knees. (And many such figures made out like proverbial bandits in the government bailout and revival of their businesses that followed.)
Yes. And the main reason for the complete lack of accountability for the economic meltdown is that government and banking have merged, on its top levels (and no: it is not that banks are "too big to fail": it is that "we don't prosecute our friends or colleagues - or if we do, we do it only for a monetary reward of a part of the profits they have made by foul means, which then also will cleanse the perpetrators of any legal responsibility").

Here is another sum-up:

In other words, two great power centers have been engorging themselves in twenty-first-century America: there was an ever-expanding national security state, ever less accountable to anyone, ever less overseen by anyone, ever more deeply enveloped in secrecy, ever more able to see others and less transparent itself, ever more empowered by a secret court system and a body of secret law whose judgments no one else could be privy to; and there was an increasingly militarized corporate state, ever less accountable to anyone, ever less overseen by outside forces, ever more sure that the law was its possession.  These two power centers are now triumphant in our world.  They command the landscape against what may be less effective opposition than at any moment in our history.
I miss the banks in this sum-up, but otherwise it seems correct. There is considerably more in the article.

Incidentally: See my Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis. This version is of this year, but the original dates back to December 25, 2012.

5.   Cyber? Bankers & Gov Officials Steam Up Revolving Door

The next item is not an article but a video by The Young Turks, of 6 m 5 s:

This strongly supports the previous item, and tells you - among other things - that Keith Alexander now works for the government in a private capacity, for a mere million dollars per month, it seems: he is going to be the head of a new "cyber war council" that will protect the banks.

Here is TYT's own summary of the material they base their video on:
"Government and industry action against cyber attacks isn't moving fast enough for Wall Street. Now banks are proposing a cyber war council to defend against future threats to their data.

According to a Bloomberg report, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma) has submitted a proposal for a committee of executives to protect banks from cyber terrorism. The group would work on active defense strategies and speedy communication between agencies and the private sector, if an attack were to occur.

The members would come from the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and other U.S. agencies. Already on board to help facilitate these efforts are former NSA director Keith Alexander and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff."
This is well worth viewing.

[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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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