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Nederlog


  October
18, 2014
Crisis: FBI director, CIA & APA, US 'justice", Neocons
  "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
















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Sections
Introduction

1.
FBI Director: Government Surveillance 'Enhances
     Liberty'

2. 
Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture from Beyond the
     Grave

3. The US justice divide: why crime and punishment in Wall
     Street and Ferguson are so different

4. The Neocons — Masters of Chaos

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, October 18. It is a
crisis log.

Then again, as it is a Saturday today, I found only four crisis items, for there definitely is at least on average less crisis news in weekends. This is probably due to the fact that several good providers of crisis news either do not work at all or work less in the weekends, which is quite OK with me. (That is, I like the weekend to continue to exist.)

I will give the items I found below.
There are four items with four links: Item 1 is on the duplicity of the current FBI director; item 2 is mostly about American psychology that was seriously sick for eight years; item 3 is on the enormous differences in judicial treatments between poor blacks and rich whites, and especially bank managers; and item 4 is on the neocons and their war games.

Here goes:

1. FBI Director: Government Surveillance 'Enhances Liberty'

The first item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

In a speech on Thursday, FBI director James Comey invoked "national security and public safety" to push for more permissive government surveillance policies, claiming new encryption technologies are poised to leave law enforcement agencies "in the dark" as they try to hunt down terrorists and child molesters.

Civil liberties watchdogs criticized Comey's claims, saying that the encryption tools would have no bearing on police and FBI operations, and that privacy is a federally guaranteed right.

Laura W. Murphy, director of the Washington Legislative Office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Comey "is wrong in asserting that law enforcement cannot do its job while respecting Americans’ privacy rights. In fact, federal law explicitly protects the right of companies to add encryption with no backdoors."

Comey rejected that argument, claiming that agents in "law enforcement, national security, and public safety are looking for security that enhances liberty."

In fact, Comey seems to have taken his inspiration from Orwell's "Nineteen
Eighty-four
". In order to see why I think this, next to his making outrageous claims, his trying to scare his audience, and his idiotic claim that he and his fellows "are
looking for security that enhances liberty", which is like saying he wants to rape people in order to make them more happy, and which also completely and quite intentionally contradicts Benjamin Franklin's
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" 
(which means that according to Franklin FBI-director Comey deserves neither liberty nor safety), there is this quotation from the Wikipedia's "Orwellian":

Meanings

The adjective Orwellian refers to these behaviours of The Party, especially when the Party is the State:

  • Invasion of personal privacy, either directly physically or indirectly by surveillance.
  • State control of its citizens' daily life, as in a "Big Brother" society.
  • Official encouragement of policies contributing to the socio-economic disintegration of the family.
  • The adoration of state leaders and their Party.
  • The encouragement of "doublethink", whereby the population must learn to embrace inconsistent concepts without dissent, e.g. giving up liberty for freedom. Similar terms used are "doublespeak", and "newspeak".
  • The revision of history in the favour of the State's interpretation of it.
  • A (generally) dystopian future.
  • The use of euphemism to describe an agency, program or other concept, especially when the name denotes the opposite of what is actually occurring. E.g. a department that wages war is called the "Ministry of Peace"
I would say that the present day U.S. and the present day FBI are quite far on this Orwellian path:

While there is not yet state control of American citizens daily lives (but the mass media all bring the same news, including the same non-mentioning of very important themes), and while there also is not yet official encouragement of policies that lead to the desintegration of the familly (but everyone who is poor has to work more), and while there also is not yet any wild adoration of state leaders (Obama is black), the other five Orwellian points are getting closer and closer:

Invasion of personal liberty; the encouragement of the doublethink (<- Wikipedia) that giving up liberty for safety is good and desirable; the revision of history; the enormous use of euphemisms; and a generally dystopian future have been reached or are at the very least getting closer and closer - and quite intentionally so, given the words of FBI-director Comey.

2. Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture from Beyond the Grave 

The next item is an article by Cora Currier on The Intercept:

This is in small part about the subject of Cora Currier's article, but mostly, since I happen to be a Dutch M.A. in psychology, this is about the American Psychological Association, that did something in 2002 I did not know till today.

Cora Currier's article is about the late Scott Gerwehr, about whom it says, among a lot more, that

In 2008, at the age of 40, Gerwehr died in a motorcycle accident on Sunset Boulevard. Years after Gerwehr died, New York Times reporter James Risen obtained a cache of Gerwehr’s files, including emails that identify him as part of a group of psychologists and researchers with close ties to the national security establishment. Risen’s new book, Pay Any Price, uses Gerwehr’s emails to show close collaboration between staffers at the American Psychological Association (APA) and government officials, collaboration that offered a fig leaf of health-professional legitimacy to the CIA and military’s brutal interrogations of terror suspects.

If you want to know more about Gerwehr, consult the article. Here I am mostly concerned about the American Psychological Association (APA, incidentally the same acronym as is used by the American Psychiatric Association: this is no doubt to make things easier for laymen), and specifically with this:
The APA in 2002 famously revised its ethics code to permit a psychologist to follow “governing legal authority” even if it clashed with the APA’s own code of ethics. It was, essentially, the Nuremberg Defense of “just following orders.” (In 2010 the APA definitively disavowed it.)

Here is a quotation from the last link, that show the extent of the principles of science and morals in the APA:

Language of the 2002 Ethics Code with Changes Marked

Introduction and Applicability
If psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists make known their commitment to this Ethics Code and take steps to resolve the conflict in a responsible manner. If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing authority in keeping with basic principles of human rights.

1.02 Conflicts Between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority
If psychologists’ ethical responsibilities conflict with law, regulations, or other governing legal authority, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code and take reasonable steps to resolve the conflict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Standards of the Ethics Code. If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

1.03 Conflicts Between Ethics and Organizational Demands
If the demands of an organization with which psychologists are affiliated or for whom they are working are in conflict with this Ethics Code, psychologists clarify the nature of the conflict, make known their commitment to the Ethics Code, and to the extent feasible, resolve the conflict in a way that permits adherence to the Ethics Code. take reasonable steps to resolve the conflict consistent with the General Principles and Ethical Standards of the Ethics Code. Under no circumstances may this standard be used to justify or defend violating human rights.

There is a considerable amount more there, on the same pattern (look for yourself), one of the basic innovations was this, which in fact was inserted at many places in this supposed "Ethics Code", that thereby became the excuse for being as unethical as one pleased to be:
If the conflict is unresolvable via such means, psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority.
Note the crossings out are from 2010. From 2002 to 2010, what the "Ethics Code" told American psychologists to do, was to make an assumption that the conflict they are making good money from is in fact "unresolvable" (this must always be an assumption), and to conclude from this that if "the government" meanwhile has turned christian or authoritarian or fascist or anything else, then still American psychologists could continue to make good money by watching "enhanced interrogations" and such - for the government is always right.

I say. I did not know this, which may be explained by noting that, while in 2002 I was still regularly visiting the faculty of psychology in Amsterdam (since when I stopped this, mostly for reasons of lack of health), in fact Dutch psychologists are hardly concerned with the doings and draftings and publishings of the APA.

In any case, this 2002 change and its change in 2010 strongly suggest I was and am right in my conclusion - from 1980 - that in actual fact psychology is mostly not a science. (And yes, it is true this was a change in ethics that completely did in ethics, and made American psychologists very little different from better trained policemen, and it is also true that ethics is not science. Even so, I very much doubt this kind of change would even have started under - say - physicists.)

3. The US justice divide: why crime and punishment in Wall Street and Ferguson are so different 

The next item is an article by Matt Taibbi on The Guardian:
This seems to be an excerpt from Taibbi's latest book "The Divide". Here are three quotations from it.

The first deals with the very assymmetric system of prosecution and punishment that arose in the U.S. since 2001 (at the latest): if you are poor and black, you risk many years in jail for small misdemeanors; if you are white and rich, especially if you are a bank manager, you can steal millions or billions and nothing will ever be done against you, other than that your salary is increased:

I’d spent years chronicling the ingenious crimes of scale that characterised the financial crisis era. These ranged from the mass frauds of the US sub-prime mortgage meltdown to the fraud-and bribery-induced bankruptcy of Jefferson County, Alabama to multitrillion-dollar market manipulation cases like the Libor scandal, so well known to British readers (but less well known to American ones).

The punchline to all these stories in the US was and is always the same. No matter how great the crime or how much money was stolen, none of the Wall Street principals is ever indicted or, for that matter, punished at all.

Even in the most abject and horrific cases – such as the scandal surrounding HSBC, which admitted to laundering more than $800m for central and South American drug cartels – no individual ever has to do a day in jail or pay so much as a cent in fines.

What punishments there are in the US for these firms – usually some version of a “We really, really promise never to do it again” deferred prosecution agreement, accompanied by superficially large fines – are always paid by the shareholder, not the actual wrongdoer.

Here are "the reasons" of this extreme asymmetry, first the false one (one example) and then the true one:

When I asked another why no one went to jail in the HSBC narco-laundering case, given that our prisons were teeming with people who’d sold small quantities of drugs, he answered, again totally deadpan: “Have you been to a jail? Those places are dangerous!”

There is no way to talk about how preposterous all of this is without first answering one basic question: who does go to jail in the US?

The simplified answer is that the poorer and less white you are, the easier it is to end up in jail. If you live in the wrong neighbourhood and you’re broke, on the dole, or, worse, undocumented, your chances of seeing the back of a squad car are better than fair every time you walk outside.

I know this is not exactly breaking news. In this country – and everywhere else – the rich have always had an easier time in the courts than the poor. But the sheer breadth of the current justice gap in the US blows the mind when viewed up close.

Finally, here is the - enormous - difference between the early nineties and the present Millenium - that started within ten years of the early nineties:

In the early 90s, the US convicted more than 900 people in criminal prosecutions connected to the savings and loan crisis, a mass-fraud scheme similar to the sub-prime mess, but far less serious. This time around, the number is zero. Not one significant Wall Street executive has seen the inside of a jail cell for even one night for the egregious crimes connected to the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, the US boasts the largest prison population in the history of humanity, edging out even the gulag under Stalin.

Note that the present day US even outdid the gulag under Stalin - and many of those jailed are jailed in 'for profit' jails, in which they are effectively slaves.

4. The Neocons — Masters of Chaos

The next item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortium News:

I will only quote the theme and the conclusion. The theme is this:

Of course, there are other factors pushing Europe’s economy to the brink of a triple-dip recession and threatening to stop America’s fragile recovery, too. But the neocons’ “regime change” strategies, which have unleashed violence and confrontations across Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and most recently Ukraine, have added to the economic uncertainty.

This neocon destabilization of the world economy began with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 under President George W. Bush who squandered some $1 trillion on the bloody folly. But the neocons’ strategies have continued through their still-pervasive influence in Official Washington during President Barack Obama’s administration.

The neocons and their “liberal interventionist” junior partners have kept the “regime change” pot boiling with the Western- orchestrated overthrow and killing of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the proxy civil war in Syria to oust Bashar al-Assad, the costly economic embargoes against Iran, and the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February.

All these targeted governments were first ostracized by the neocons and the major U.S. news organizations, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, which have become what amounts to neocon mouthpieces. Whenever the neocons decide that it’s time for another “regime change,” the mainstream U.S. media enlists in the propaganda wars.

Here are two clarifications: First, the "$1 trillion" that were spent by George W. Bush on his war against Iraq - "a window of opportunity" - of course all came with considerable profits for the U.S. military-industrial complex (<- Wikipedia). Second, I agree that the present Washington Post and New York Times do seem to have become, for the most part at least, "neocon mouthpieces", though this is not yet true of all their journalists. [2]

And here is the conclusion:

(...) the world’s economy usually can withstand some natural and manmade challenges. The real problem comes when a combination of catastrophes pushes the international financial system to a tipping point. Then, even a single event can dump the world into economic chaos, like what happened when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008.

It’s not clear whether the world is at such a tipping point today, but the stock market volatility suggests that we may be on the verge of another worldwide recession. Meanwhile, the neocon masters of chaos seem determined to keep putting their ideological obsessions ahead of the risks to Americans and people everywhere.

Yes indeed, though it is also true that, more generally, almost every politician is doing ideology much more than anything else, for politicians know as a rule a great lot less about real politics and real history than they should. Also, it seems
quite possible that the neo-conservative ideology, or the ideologists, is even more stupid and less informed than most other ideologies, if only because the neocons
seem to believe their political propaganda.

---------------------------------
Notes
[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.)

[2] Incidentally, this is a part of the reason that I do not daily check on the New York Times or The Washington Post, though another part is that The Guardian, which I do check, simply is the better paper.


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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