19, 2014
Crisis: Snowden *2, Greenwald, Chomsky, Rochester, Pilger
  "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

I, spy: Edward Snowden in exile
2. Edward Snowden interview - the edited transcript
3. Glenn Greenwald: Why Did NBC Pull Veteran Reporter
     After He Witnessed Israeli Killing of Gaza Kids?

Chomsky: The System We Have Now Is Radically

5. Rochester: the debauched poet who mocked the king
6. The War You Don't See (2010)

About ME/CFS


This is the Nederlog of July 19. It is an ordinary crisis log.

It also starts with two large articles on Edward Snowden on The Guardian, which I think are quite interesting.

They're dealt with below, but I should say, I think, I have had 1 1/2 hour of problems with my modem, that started when I tried to watch the interview: Lost contact with the internet, and the modem started to show all its five lights going on and off and on and off.

I got rid of that by switching the computer off repeatedly, and switching the modem of all input, and then restarting again, and that worked.

What's the explanation? I don't know, but the modem works normally quite well, and has done so for quite a while. So... I relay this in case you have the same problems as I have: On my system, it could be undone, but it needed both the computer and the modem to be quite dead first.

Anyway, here is the summary of this issue:

This is a crisis report but it is not quite ordinary: The first two items are based on long articles on The Guardian; the third on an interview with Glenn Greenwald; the fourth is a long interview with Chomsky by Hedges I have no time to review today, but list; the sixth is not about the crisis but about Earl Rochester, who is a favorite poet of mine (dead since 350 years); and the last is a good long film by John Pilger. Enjoy!

1. I, spy: Edward Snowden in exile

The first item is an article by Alan Rusbridger and Ewen MacAskill on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:
Fiction and films, the nearest most of us knowingly get to the world of espionage, give us a series of reliable stereotypes. British spies are hard-bitten, libidinous he-men. Russian agents are thickset, low-browed and facially scarred. And defectors end up as tragic old soaks in Moscow, scanning old copies of the Times for news of the Test match.

Such a fate was anticipated for Edward Snowden by Michael Hayden, a former NSA and CIA chief, who predicted last September that the former NSA analyst would be stranded in Moscow for the rest of his days – “isolated, bored, lonely, depressed… and alcoholic”.

Actually, Edward Snowden is not isolated, not bored, not lonely, not depressed and not alcoholic: He doesn't even drink. There is also this, which I think is a quite justified compliment:
If Snowden has vices – and God knows they must have been looking for them – none has emerged in the 13 months since he slipped away from his life as a contracted NSA analyst in Hawaii, intent on sharing the biggest cache of top-secret material the world has ever seen.
As to the money (I am fairly rapidly shifting through the text, noting only details I have not heard or read before):
He is not working for a Russian organisation, as has been reported, but is financially secure for the immediate future. In addition to substantial savings from his career as a well-compensated contractor, he has received numerous awards and speaking fees from around the world. He is also in the process of securing foundation funding for a new press freedom initiative, creating tools that allow journalists to communicate securely.
There is this on his political views:
He was exasperated to be marked down as a conservative libertarian, for example (he is, he says, more moderate than has been reported), but declines to be more specific about his actual politics.
And also this:
I hate politics. Really, I mean, this is not me, you know. I hope you guys can tell the difference.
Actually, I agree. (In fact, it is mostly this that turned me away from marxism when I was 20, although my family were - sincerely, intelligently, for decades - marxists: it simply appeared to me that to help emancipate mankind, the way of science is much more appropriate for someone like me than the way of politics. Clearly, my life and background are quite different from Edward Snowden's, but this we may have in common, which I also note because in fact I did not quarrel with my family either - I just took a different path to a similar goal.)

Then there is this about "the haystack" Keith Alexander waxes so enthusiastic about:
I would argue that simply using the term ‘haystack’ is misleading. This is a haystack of human lives. It’s all the private records of the most intimate activities, that are aggregated and compiled again and again, and stored for increasing frequencies of time.
Yes, indeed. And in this context, this is quite fundamental:
It may be that by watching everywhere we go, by watching everything we do, by analysing every word we say, by waiting and passing judgment over every association we make and every person we love, that we could uncover a terrorist plot, or we could discover more criminals. But is that the kind of society we want to live in? That is the definition of a security state.
Yes, indeed - and it is a security state, and indeed not at all a democracy nor a free or open society, and one that knows very much more about the population it spies upon than anyone ever did.

As is this:
The fact that records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communication stream, from the intended recipient, and given to the government, without any specific authorisation, without any specific need, is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in the government database?
The answer is: it is there because they could steal it, and did so, which they did because they are not interested in democracy, freedom or openness: they want complete control of everyone.

Here is a tip of Edward Snowden for those who want their communications encrypted (which I think anybody sane should want):
(..) he recommends SpiderOak, a fully encrypted end-to-end “zero-knowledge” filesharing system.
He has this to say on "the oversight" our reputable politicians are supposed to keep:
The problem with the current system of political oversight is twofold, he says. First, the politicians and the security services are too close: no politician wants to defy intelligence chiefs who warn of the potential consequences of being seen to be “weak”. And then there’s the problem that, in most societies, the job of monitoring the security agencies goes to the most senior politicians or, in the UK, retired judges – most of whom, he believes, do not have the technical literacy to understand what it is they should be looking for, or regulating.
I agree, but there is more: Quite a few of the politicians and the judges want oversight of the masses, firstly, because it helps their - much privileged - kind; secondly, because they do not trust many of them: after all, some part of "the masses" might be doing something against them or their friends; thirdly because they all like power, for else they would not be in their positions; fourthly, not only are they not very literate as to computers: they are also naive about the massive amounts of data that are being gathered, and naive about what this tells about people (most everything, in full personal detail also); and fifthly, I think the politicians and judges still tend to think they are not targeted (in which I think they are mistaken).

Snowden also is quite clear about something else, that I have always insisted on:
The question is, why are private details that are transmitted online any different from the details of our lives that are stored in our private journals? There shouldn’t be this distinction between digital and printed information. But the US government, and many other countries, are increasingly seeking to make that distinction.
Yes, quite so: The laws on privacy - say: the Fourth Amendment and Article 8 from the European Declaration on Human Rights - are quite clear and quite good, while the lies of the American government amount to: "We can read your ordinary paper mail, and we do, because we can, as soon as you've handed your letter to the post, for then it is not private anymore (but we will tape it closed again, before delivering it)". That was their whole defense of stealing your personal and private data: they can steal it, so they do steal it - and then they tell you they may steal it, "because it are bits and bytes", which is complete bullshit.

Finally, Snowden makes an admission:
I’m not a great sports fan.
Actually, I am the same: I didn't watch a football game since 1960. It's just not an interesting thing to watch.

Anyway... there is a lot more under the last dotted link.

2. Edward Snowden interview - the edited transcript 

The next item is an article by Alan Rusbridger and Ewen MacAskill on The Guardian:

As I've said, I have repeatedly tried to watch the video, but every time it blocked after 45 seconds or so. Also, while I am confident this is fine journalism, the interview does not take the Q&A format: it only records the answers, which again also makes sense, as the concentrated takedown of seven hours of conversation. I suppose also this is why it is called "the edited transcript". 

I will go through this as I went through the previous article, also since I am sure most of my readers will read the originals. That is, I lift only what seems (mostly) new to me (and not everything of that either).

First, about Snowden's plans when he started, over a year ago:

They think there was some masterplan to get out safely and avoid all consequences. That’s what Hong Kong was all about. But it wasn’t. The purpose of my mission was to get the information to journalists. Once I had, that I was done.

That is: there was no masterplan, and I believe him. Actually:

The fact that I’ve ended up so secure is entirely by accident. And as you said, it probably shouldn’t have happened. If we have anybody to thank, it’s the state department. The whole key is, the state department’s the one who put me in Russia.

Yes - and it seems to me if they had been a bit slower with revoking his password, he might have been in Ecuador, whence it would have been easier to get him than it is from Russia.

He also says, about the past year:

It’s been unexpected and challenging but it’s been encouraging. It’s been energising to see the reaction from the public. It’s been vindicating to see the reaction from lawmakers, judges, public bodies around the world, civil liberties activists who have said it’s true that we have a right to at least know the broad outlines of what our government’s doing in our name and what it’s doing against us.

Being able to be a part of that, even if it’s a small part, has been, I think, the most rewarding work of my life.

On this he and I differ, though I do not criticize him: Personally, I find the responses mostly disappointing and shallow, for the most part, and apathetic or conformist. But I do not have Snowden's experiences, and am more than twice as old.

Here is Snowden's "earthquake moment":

When I saw that, that was really the earthquake moment because it showed that the officials who authorised these programs knew it was a problem, they knew they didn’t have any statutory authorisation for these programs. But instead the government assumed upon itself, in secret, new executive powers without any public awareness or any public consent and used them against the citizenry of its own country to increase its own power, to increase its own awareness.

Yes, indeed. And note that this was intended and planned already in 1968-1969: See my Crisis: propaganda and Control: Brezezinski 1968 from 2012. Also note the key condition for this: No encryption.

He also says, again quite correctly:

We constantly hear the phrase “national security” but when the state begins … broadly intercepting the communications, seizing the communications by themselves, without any warrant, without any suspicion, without any judicial involvement, without any demonstration of probable cause, are they really protecting national security or are they protecting state security?

Clearly, their only motives are their own power and security: They are working for the state, paid by the state, and spy for the state. All talk of "national security" is hogwash: They want all the power they can get, and if this means raping 300 million people's expectation of privacy, they will rape these expectations. Why? Because the security they will gain will give them absolute power, at least in their own country. (And as an aside: No politician I've ever seen or heard was not interested in getting as much power as he or she possibly could get.)

There is this, on which I also agree:

The distinction there is that we now have an institution that has become so powerful it feels comfortable granting itself new authorities, without the involvement of the country, without the involvement of the public, without the full involvement of all of our elected representatives and without the full involvement of open courts, and that’s a terrifying thing – at least for me.

Yes indeed: it is the growth of the authoritarian state, especially since Bush Jr. and Obama. They do not run a democratic state anymore: they run, quite consciously and quite dishonestly, an authoritarian state.

He also says, again correctly:

No system of mass surveillance has existed in any society that we know of to this point that has not been abused.

In fact - from a democratic or individual point of view - that is the whole point of mass surveillance: it is fundamentally undemocratic and anti-individual- istic, and it only works for the governors and those they cooperate with directly, and for no one else: No one else gets protected by it, or only briefly and by accident (remember the New York firemen who were left to die, as a matter of course, after doing the dirty work of 9/11).

And he says:

And the government is saying that we need to be able to intercept all of these communications … And because of this they don’t like the adoption of encryption. They say encryption that protects individuals’ privacies, encryption that protects the public’s privacy broadly as opposed to specific individuals, encryption by default, is dangerous because they lose this midpoint communication, this midpoint collection.

This means in fact that the governments which say these things, such as the American and British governments, have thrown overboard the pretense that they are there to protect the people, their privacy, their rights, and their happiness:

They are there to exploit the people; the best way to do that is to know everything about them; which they can do by stealing everything they can get that anybody does with a computer or a cell-phone; and that requires non-encrypted files. It is as simple as that.

Then there is this, on what the supermen of the NSA do:

They’re the most deep and intense and intimate and damaging private moments of their lives, and we’re seizing [them] without any authorisation, without any reason, records of all of their activities – their cell phone locations, their purchase records, their private text messages, their phone calls, the content of those calls in certain circumstances, transaction histories – and from this we can create a perfect, or nearly perfect, record of each individual’s activity, and those activities are increasingly becoming permanent records.

And to make this clear:

The mere seizure of that communication by itself was an abuse. The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communication stream, from the intended recipient, and given to the government without any specific authorisation, without any specific need, is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in the government database?

Answer (in the end): Because one's governors decided that they would be so enormously powerful once they had these data, that they decided to steal them - illegal, unconstitutional, massive theft of everyone's private data, that are stolen because they give a very small group of powerlusty individuals more power than anybody has ever had. Again, it basically is as simple as that.

He says this about his former colleagues:

The people that are staffing these intelligence agencies are ordinary people, like you and me. They’re not moustache-twirling villains that are going, “ah ha ha that’s great”, they’re going: “You’re right. That crosses a line but you really shouldn’t say something about that because it’s going to end your career.”

We all have mortgages. We all have families.

No, not really, or not quite. I see at least three differences between Snowden's colleagues and ordinary people.

First, they are not "ordinary people": they are specially talented for dealing with computers, and they are in one definite sense incredibly more powerful than almost anybody else: they have secret access to anyone's private data, in principle, which almost no one else has, and almost no one else knows about.

Second, they all have families and may all have mortgages, but because of their talents and also because of their function, they are paid rather a lot of money, also if they are young.

Third, they are in great majority careerists. This holds for most people, but it does not hold for me nor for my family: These were revolutionary marxists or anarchists, which is one probable reason I would never qualify for an NSA-job, also not in Holland (the Dutch NSA is the AIVD): I think for myself, I only follow my own counsel, and therefore I am a security risk.

This is Snowden on the attitudes of the government:

“The public should not know about these programmes. The public should not have a say in these programmes and, for God’s sake, the press had better not learn about these programmes or we will destroy you.”

I think that is correct. Which is why I also say such governments are no longer democracies in any sense: They exist to satisfy themselves at the cost of the people they govern, and not in the service of - the interests of - the people they govern. And the reason is that they stole everyone's private data, and not to help the people they were stolen from, in secret, but to help themselves.

Snowden also thinks Great Britain is worse than the US, and the main reason is that there are fewer laws and regulations respecting individuals and their privacy.

As to destroying some of the hard disks of The Guardian:

It seemed like a clear intent to intimidate the press into pulling back and not reporting. And I think that was why it was inappropriate but tremendously beneficial for the public conversation because they gave everyone who was concerned about the abuses of power a clear and specific example.

Yes indeed: it was intimidation, and that was the whole point.

As to the metadata that are collected with such enthusiasm, because they tell everything but the contents of the conversation:

What’s happened with these programmes is governments in the United Kingdom, for example, the United States and other western governments, as well as much less responsible governments around the world, have taken it upon themselves to assign private eyes to every citizen in their country and around the world to the best of their ability. It happens automatically, pervasively, and it’s stored on databases, whether or not it’s needed.

Which means that these governments ceased being democratic, free or open, and turned into authoritarian, unfree and closed governments. And this holds for the governments of the US and Great Brittain, and also for most Westeuropean countries.

Here is Snowden on the lessons of last year:

What last year’s revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the internet are no longer safe and cannot be trusted. Their integrity has been compromised and we need new security pro[grams] to protect them. Any communications that are transmitted over the internet, over any networked line, should be encrypted by default. That’s what last year showed us.

Yes, indeed. As to privacy:

The question is, why are our private details that are transmitted online, why are our private details that are stored on our personal devices, any different [from] the details and private records of our lives that are stored in our private journals?

There shouldn’t be this distinction between digital information and printed information.

Indeed - and there isn't, to my mind, though I am well aware that many governments lie. It is not about form, such as paper versus bits : it is about rights and it always was and will be, and one has the right - in a society where everyone is supposed to be equal - not to be secretively snooped upon by some anonymous government flunky without probable cause.


If we can’t have the privacy of our bedrooms, if we can’t have the privacy of our notes on our computer, if we can’t have the privacy of our electronic diaries, we can’t have privacy at all.

Yes, indeed - and note that we do not have any privacy anymore, to the best of my knowledge: "Feind hört mit!" - German, from WW II: "The enemy listens in!" - on everything we do, and these enemies are the secret services.

And there is this, that is quite important:

(..) something that we so often forget in the dialogue about security versus privacy is [that it is] really a misstatement of the issue, which is liberty versus security.

Quite true, though it is also true that the whole speech and the whole framing one gets offered from the government is deceptive propaganda, and also it is all based on fundamentally undemocratic and illegal lies of the governors. (As to the law: Something is not sacrosanct because it is legal. The laws may be wrong. Also, when I talk of "the law" I mean especially the law as was, until 9/11: After that, there was a lot of legal nonsense, in quite a few countries. This may be "legal" now, in some usually farfetched sense, but it still is wrong, in my system of values.)

About open source:

We are moving very slowly but meaningfully in the direction of free and open software that’s reviewable, or, even if you can’t do it, a community of technologists [who] can look at what these devices are really doing on the software level and say, is this secure, is this appropriate, is there anything malicious or strange in here? That increases the level of security for everybody in our communities.

Yes... although I find it does go very slow and there also aren't many. One of the things I wonder about is why not more than 1 or 2 in a 100 use Linux, which these days is quite easily installed. (But I may overestimate people's gifts, is also true.)

There is this on the security state:

It may be that by seizing all of the records for private activities, by watching everywhere we go, by watching everything we do, by monitoring every person we need, by analysing every word we say, by waiting and passing judgment over every association we make and every person we love, that we could uncover a terrorist plot or we could discover more criminals. But is that the kind of society we want to live in? That is the definition of a security state.

Do we want to live in a controlled society or do we want to live in a free society? That’s the fundamental question we’re being faced with.

Yes - but Obama and Cameron, for example, want a security state. They want it because their kind of people has the power in it; because their kind of people profit from it, and much more so than almost anybody else; their kind of people run the risks to be made responsible for the harm they do; and because power and those who exercise it remain much more safe the more absolute power is. And being able to access any computer and any cell phone makes you know, in principle at least, absolutely everything, and enables you to take out anyone who opposes you in any way.

There is this on individual rights and privacy:

We need to recognise that people have an individual right to privacy but they also have a collective right to privacy. Nobody should have their communications seized and stored for an indefinite period of time without any suspicion or justification, without any suspicion that they’re involved in some sort of specific criminality. Just as it would be for any other law enforcement investigation.

Yes - and once again: The Fourth Amendment and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights are quite clear, and quite enough if it is - as it mostly should be - about rights. It is the governments and their secret services that have been lying, while taking incredible and illegal liberties to steal the private data of hundreds of millions.

3. Glenn Greenwald: Why Did NBC Pull Veteran Reporter After He Witnessed Israeli Killing of Gaza Kids? 

The next item is an article by Amy Goodman and Juan González:

This starts as follows:

NBC is facing questions over its decision to pull veteran news correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin out of Gaza just after he personally witnessed the Israeli military’s killing of four Palestinian boys on a Gaza beach. Mohyeldin was kicking a soccer ball around with the boys just minutes before they died. He is a longtime reporter in the region. In his coverage, he reports on the Gaza conflict in the context of the Israeli occupation, sparking criticism from some supporters of the Israeli offensive. Back in 2008 and 2009, when he worked for Al Jazeera, Mohyeldin and his colleague Sherine Tadros were the only foreign journalists on the ground in Gaza as Israel killed 1,400 people in what it called "Operation Cast Lead." We speak to Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, who has revealed that the decision to pull Mohyeldin from Gaza and remove him from reporting on the situation came from NBC
executive David Verdi. Greenwald also comments on the broader picture of the coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict in the U.S. media.

This isa good interview, that also gives some background to Ayman Mohyeldin.

4. Chomsky: The System We Have Now Is Radically Anti-Democratic

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges, that I found on AlterNet:

This has a subtitle:
A fascinating, wide-ranging interview on major issues facing the public.
And that is quite true. Also, it takes 12 pages on Alternet, and it has the whole interview in three videos at the end.

So all I say today is that you can read this for yourself, or watch and listen, and I probably will return to it, since I had quite a lot to do today.

5. Rochester: the debauched poet who mocked the king

The next item is an article by
Alexander Larman on The Telegraph:
No, this is not about the crisis. It is here because I like Rochester, for something like - at least - 40 years now, and Larman produced a new life about him, which he could write about in The Telegraph.

I merely say here that he was a real poet and a real wit, and addressed his king, inter alia, as follows, on the merits of one of his lovers:

His sceptre and prick are of a length;
And she may sway the one who plays with th’other,
And make him little wiser than his brother.
Poor prince! Thy prick, like thy buffoons at court,
Will govern thee because it makes thee sport.

I did write repeatedly about him e.g. here, in 2013: me+ME: O Poetry, poetry, poetry! (Lord Rochester)

6. The War You Don't See (2010)

The final item for today is not an article but is a film, and it also is a fairly long one, by John Pilger (<-Wikipedia)

I found this on Raging Bull-Shit's site, who has a weekly film special. This is one of them, and it is quite good, and will very probably teach you a lot about the background of the crisis. (This comes with Spanish subtitles, but it is spoken English, so this should not give much trouble.)

Enjoy! (And there is plenty today for that end.)

P.S. July 20, 2014: Actually, it was July 19, not 18, when I wrote this: Corrected - as have been some other typing mistakes.

[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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