14, 2014
Crisis: Snowden, Int'l Law, War?,  God, Spyware
  "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

 Snowden Documents: The NSA and the GCHQ evidently
     have access to telecom networks

2. Dishing Up International Law a la Carte
3. Is US Waging War? Top Obama Admin Officials Give
     Conflicting Answers

4. Playing God
5. Leaked Docs Show Spyware Used to Snoop on U.S.

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, September 14. It is a
crisis log.

It is a Sunday, and I found only five items, that follow.

1. Snowden Documents: The NSA and the GCHQ evidently have access to telecom networks

The first item is an article in the German Der Spiegel. I've translated the title from German and will translate from the article:

This starts as follows (in German, here translated):
The NSA and the Briish GCHQ evidently have their own secret entry points to the networks of Deutsche Telekom and the provider from Cologne, Netcologne, which they themselves classify as top secret. This follows from graphical images that were made by a NSA program called Treasure Map, that Der Spiegel could look into. In the undated document Deutsche Telekom and Netcologne are explicitly named and marked with a red dot. In a legend to the image it is explained that the red dot means that "inside" these networks "points of entry" are present for technical surveillance.
This sounds much like the "points of entry" that Mark Klein (<- Wikipedia) revealed in 2006: See Room 614A (<- Wikipedia). Indeed, according to William Binney (<- Wikipedia) there are (at least) 10 or 20 such "points of entry" in the U.S. alone.

Der Spiegel clarifies as follows (in German, here translated):
The Treasure Map program accords with the goal "to map the complete internet". Inside the major fiber optic cables the analysts of the secret services can visualize in "near reality" single routers, and even computers, smartphones and tablets, if these are connected to the internet. The end is to make visible "each tool, everywhere, at any time" it is claimed in a presentation that is published by Der Spiegel. The program, a sort of Google Earth for the internet, serves among other things for "the planning of computer attacks" and "spying by internet". Tĥe NSA and GCHQ are not willing to comment.
The main point here is that spying is forbidden in Germany, which means that the NSA and the GCHQ are clearly breaking the German law, and are doing so on German territory.

Then again, by now it seems that the German government is willing to allow this, not because they like it, but mostly because they want to avoid a serious hassle with the U.S.

Thus politics also - so far - switched off the upkeeping of the law and of human rights in Germany, simply because this is more convenient for the leading politicians.

Dishing Up International Law a la Carte

The next item is an article by Lawrence Davidson on Consortiumnews:

This has the following introduction:

Official Washington honors international law when it’s politically useful, such as in condemning a global adversary, but then dismisses it as useless if it gets in the way of some desired U.S. action. This “international law a la carte” undermines the concept’s fundamental value, says Lawrence Davidson.

And it begins as follows:

International law is vital to the welfare of every man, woman and child on this planet, although the vast majority of them do not know this is so. The vital aspect lies in the fact that the universally applicable nature of human rights – which prohibit such actions as the use of torture, arbitrary arrest and detention while supporting freedom of movement, conscience, cultural rights and the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, among other things – has its primary foundation in international law.

Examples of this can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various Geneva Conventions.

Quite so - and the problem with this noble enterprise (yes, it is) is also clearly seen and stated by Davidson:

Such flouting of international law is common among democracies as well. It is even noticeable in the behavior of the United States. Take for instance the current treatment of illegal immigrants. Their human rights are certainly not respected in this country which, historically, is a nation of immigrants.

The problem goes beyond the maltreatment of immigrants. In fact, the current dismissive attitude toward human rights and the international laws that uphold them has its roots in the fear of terrorism. Such actions as arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention, the use of torture, and so forth are all justified by the so-called “war on terror.”

These actions by the U.S. government are illegal under international law, but because the enforcement of law is almost always the business of the state, and the United States is a “superpower,” who is to call U.S. officials to account for their crimes? No one. International law has no designated policemen.

That is: Because "the enforcement of law is almost always the business of the state" and because there is no superstate that sees to it that states behave themselves and act according to the treaties they signed, many states, and especially the U.S., do not live by the international laws they themselves signed: Politics transcends laws any time this is considered advantageous.

I wrote it out for you, and I mostly agree with Davidson. Here is his last paragraph:

It is this insularity and the know-nothing attitude that goes along with it that has allowed special interests to become the main center of political power in America. Short of catastrophic political breakdown, this arrangement is not going to change. The only thing that those who value international law and human rights can do is to continue to build their own special interest lobbies and compete for influence in government against the dehumanizers and other assorted international law breakers.


3. Is US Waging War? Top Obama Admin Officials Give Conflicting Answers 

The next item is an article by Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:

This starts with the following epigraph:
"This is what happens when you don't have congressional debate," says Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy. "There is no accountability for administration statements... There is no truth."
And that is also what the U.S. government wants: It does not want to tell the truth, and it doesn't do so unless it is forced to (in any case of importance), and until then it propagandizes, deceives, lies and bullshits, for these are the tools of powerful politicians everywhere: "All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed." - I.F. Stone.

Also, the question in the title is quite apt and indeed gets answered in at least two contradictory ways by the U.S. government:

The White House and Pentagon on Friday used the word "war" to describe U.S. military actions in Iraq and Syria.

"In the same way that we are at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates around the globe, we are at war with ISIL," declared White House press secretary Josh Earnest in briefing to reporters on Friday.

"What I said was this is not the Iraq war of 2002. But make no mistake, we know we are at war with ISIL in the same way we're at war and continue to be at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates," said Real Admiral John Kirby in a Department of Defense press briefing, also on Friday.

But in numerous media interviews on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized that the U.S. is not at war with ISIL.

"I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity," Kerry told CBS Reporter Margaret Brennan in an interview from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where Kerry is currently traveling in a bid to build a coalition against ISIL.

And that is what it is going to be for the U.S. government: It will speak of "war" whenever that is most convenient, and it will deny it is at "war" whenever that is most convenient. In either case, it will do what it pleases, and bomb, drone and kill whoever they call "terrorists".

4. Playing God

The next item is an article by Steve Frases with an introduction by Tom Engelhardt. It is on tomdispatch:

In fact, while the article is quite interesting about the new strong men in the U.S., who all are billionaires, I will not quote from it but only from its introduction by Tom Engelhardt.

The introduction starts as follows:
Think of this as the year that democracy of, by, and for the billionaires shall not perish from the Earth -- not when we’re on a new electoral playing field in a political world in which distinctions are no longer made between unlimited money and unlimited speech.  In other words, these days, if you have billions of dollars, you can shout from the skies and the rest of us have to listen.
And it may be well to add that you can be both a billionair and an ignorant asshole, though indeed there all kinds of billionairs, and there are even some who play fair. (But don't count on that.)

As I said yesterday, the U.S. is no longer a democracy: The people have been switched off by the Supreme Court, that counts money as free speech, and considers corporations as people (or better, for they have more rights than people).

Part of what the present U.S. are is a plutocracy: The rich have the power, and the richer you are, the more power you have, for - once again - money now counts as free speech and
corporations count as people.

There is considerably more in the introduction, and this is from its last paragraph:
In all of this, you can see the urge of America's new crop of billionaires to “play god” at our expense and with our lives -- to decide for us, ad by ad, dark-money outfit by dark-money outfit, how we should organize ourselves politically.
Yes - and indeed not all billionaires try to play god, but sufficiently many do to have major influence, that is nearly always very bad for everyone who is not a billionaire.

5. Leaked Docs Show Spyware Used to Snoop on U.S. Computers 

The next item is an article by Jeff Larson and Mike Tigas on Propublica:

This starts as follows:

Software created by the controversial U.K. based Gamma Group International was used to spy on computers that appear to be located in the United States, the U.K., Germany, Russia, Iran and Bahrain, according to a leaked trove of documents analyzed by ProPublica.

It's not clear whether the surveillance was conducted by governments or private entities. Customer email addresses in the collection appeared to belong to a German surveillance company, an independent consultant in Dubai, the Bosnian and Hungarian Intelligence services, a Dutch law enforcement officer and the Qatari government.

The leaked files — which were posted online by hackers — are the latest in a series of revelations about how state actors including repressive regimes have used Gamma's software to spy on dissidents, journalists and activist groups.

There is a lot more in the article on various software by the Gamma Group International.


[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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