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."
Historic Ruling, UK Surveillance Secrecy Declared
2. In Latest Vindication of
Snowden, Court Rules UK Mass
3. Over Decade Later, Survivors of Torture at Abu Ghraib
Demanding 'Measure of Justice
Thomas Piketty and Larry Summers Don’t Tell You
About Income Inequality
Reality TV Is Teaching Us to Accept the American
This is a Nederlog of
February 7, 2015.
This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 and item 2
are about a - somewhat - surprising English (secret) courts' decision
item 3 is about some survivors of torture
in Abu Ghraib who are trying to get some measure of justice from
American courts; item 4 is about income
inequalities; and item 5 is a fine piece on the
dangers of TV.
Historic Ruling, UK Surveillance Secrecy Declared Unlawful
The first item
article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
I say. Especially the
first sentence - "the scope" - and the last sentence - "never before" -
are interesting. Personally - and see my Mass surveillance is
fundamental threat to human rights, says
European report from
January 27 - I find especially "the scope" interesting:
The United Kingdom’s top
surveillance agency has acted unlawfully by keeping details about the
scope of its Internet spying operations secret, a British court ruled
in an unprecedented judgment issued on Friday.
Headquarters, or GCHQ, was found to have breached human rights laws by
concealing information about how it accesses surveillance data
collected by its American counterpart, the National Security Agency.
was handed down by the Investigatory
Powers Tribunal, a special court that handles complaints related to
covert surveillance operations conducted by law enforcement and
intelligence agencies. In its 15-year history, the tribunal has never
before upheld a complaint against any intelligence agencies.
It seems these "defenders" of what they call "Human Rights" have no
objection whatsoever if every bit of data that the spy agencies
can find - e.g. of your website, your emails, your
financial transactions, your cellphones, and your sexual preferences,
among other things - and not only yours, but of everyone anywhere,
may be downloaded by the spies who control us, if only
they can get it, somehow.
In fact, it seems as if according to this court they may spy as
much as they please, provided only that they say it, e.g. like the Amsterdam dole does:
If I phone them, the last 20 years or so, I get this - fundamentally
fascistic - warning: "This conversation may be taped for learning
purposes". (This is - sofar as I know (!) - the only Dutch institution
routinely tapes its clients, but it does so for a long time
now: At least 20 years in my experience.)
Then again, there is also this:
The court ruling
against GCHQ found that by keeping the rules underpinning the
surveillance secret, the agency had “contravened”
the privacy and free expression provisions of the European
Convention on Human Rights. The secret policies were released
for the first time in December, meaning that until then GCHQ had been
operating unlawfully, likely for several years.
I am very sorry, but I
disbelieve the European
Convention on Human Rights.
I may later explain why, but for the present this explanation is enough: Mass surveillance is
fundamental threat to human rights, says
Here is what
these judges said - and I bolded a "not" and an "only":
The judges cited a
previous ruling that stated laws must be publicly available and clear
enough so that individuals have “adequate protection against arbitrary
interference.” But they did not deem the surveillance itself to
be an illegal invasion of privacy; it was only the secrecy
shrouding it that they ruled a violation of human rights. Friday’s
decision was therefore more of a victory for transparency than it was
for online privacy.
It may also be seen as
even less, namely as a foreboding of what Europe is going to get:
Universal surveillance of all by the GCHQ and the NSA, all covered by a
nicely designed graphical internet icon - rather like Facebook's icon,
for example - that says, when right clicked:
yourself! You are being watched like everyone by Our Secret Superheroes
of the GCHQ and the NSA! You have nothing
For that warning seems
to take care of all of this courts' objections.
to fear as long as you conform!"
In Latest Vindication of Snowden, Court Rules UK Mass
item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
Yes, it is about the
same thing as the previous item. This one starts as follows:
As I said or suggested
in the previous item: Both Articles 8 and 10 are utterly useless: They allow
governmental spying, without any restriction also, for at least
8 different reasons, and the "rights" they speak of are all carefully
circumscribed by all the exceptions any dictatorial government would
want (and is completely unlike the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights).
In the latest vindication
of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, a U.K. ruled
on Friday that the British government violated human rights law by
failing to safeguard some aspects of its intelligence-sharing
operations until December 2014.
The Investigatory Powers
Tribunal found that the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)
accessed information obtained by the National Security Agency (NSA)
without sufficient oversight, violating Articles 8 and 10 of the
European convention on human rights. According
to Reuters, "The tribunal's concern, addressed
in the new ruling, was that until details of how GCHQ and the NSA
shared data were made public in the course of the court proceedings,
the legal safeguards provided by British law were being side-stepped."
Indeed, as the New York Times said:
campaigners claimed the decision as a victory, many experts said the
British and American intelligence agencies would continue to share
information obtained with electronic surveillance, even if they had to
slightly alter their techniques to comply with human rights law.
And no: the "European
Convention on 'Human Rights'" will not help anything:
Anything any government loves to do is admitted by its long
lists of exceptions to the human rights, and it would seem to me we have
Convention on 'Human Rights'" in order not to have the Universal Declaration of Human
(that was very
good, unlike the European bullshit "human rights").
There is also this:
Speaking for myself, I
don't accept rulings by "highly-secretive" courts. Period. There may be some
very rare occasions in which a court has to be secret, but then I also
do not accept its rulings, since I lack the evidence,
though in these cases I will not protest. I do now: Secret
courts are courts that do not fit in a democratic state, but
they are perfect for police states and dictatorships.
IPT's decision marks the
first time that the highly-secretive court has ever ruled against any
of the U.K.'s intelligence services in its entire 15-year existence.
During IPT hearings in
2014, Matthew Ryder, a lawyer for civil rights group Liberty, charged
that intelligence agencies were building vast databases from unlawfully
obtained emails and other communications.
However, the IPT ruled in
December last year that British and American intelligence agencies had
brought their oversight policies in line with European law, and could
continue sharing information legally.
Over Decade Later,
Survivors of Torture at Abu Ghraib Demanding 'Measure of Justice
The next item is an article by
Sarah Lazare on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Yes, of course they seek
"impunity for torture". As to that torture, there is this:
More than a decade later,
Iraqi survivors of torture at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison are still
fighting for "a measure of justice" in U.S. civil courts.
The four plaintiffs, all
of whom were held captive at the prison then released without charges,
argued in a federal district court in Virginia on Friday that private
mercenary company CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI)—which was
operating in the prison—should have to stand trial for its confirmed
role in their torture. The hearing was the latest development in a suit,
backed by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which was first filed
The contractor has argued
vigorously that it should not face any liability, despite the fact that
military investigators found
(pdf) that, in 2004, CACI directly colluded with U.S. soldiers in
torture. So far, CACI's efforts to dodge culpability have been
In 2013, a federal judge dismissed
the former Abu Ghraib prisoners' lawsuit against CACI on the grounds
that, because Abu Ghraib is overseas, it is beyond the jurisdiction of
U.S. courts. That ruling, however, was later overturned by the Fourth
Circuit Court of Appeals, thereby allowing the lawsuit to proceed.
Now, CACI argues that the
question of whether it can be held accountable is a "political
question." The New York Times describes
this legal argument as "a murky concept, nearly as old as the Supreme
Court itself, holds that courts are not authorized or equipped to
resolve certain matters — like some military decisions or aspects of
foreign relations — and must leave them to the other branches of
Lawyers say that what the
company is really after is impunity for torture.
plaintiffs—Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid,
Sa’ad Hamza Hantoosh Al-Zuba’e, and Salah Hasan Nusaif Jasim
Al-Ejaili—were subjected to "electric shocks, sexual violence, forced
nudity, broken bones, and deprivation of oxygen, food, and water,"
according to a statement
from their lawyers. They still suffer physical and psychological wounds
as a result.
And yes: It does
seem torture to me. (I hope the plaintiffs succeed, but I don't expect
Thomas Piketty and Larry Summers
Don’t Tell You About Income Inequality
The next item is an article by Lynn Parramore that I found on
Nakedcapitalism, but that originally appeared on Inet:
This article is somewhat
technical, though it is basically an interview, and I select two bits
First, salaries at
the very top shot up after 1980, as Thomas Piketty emphasizes. This was
mostly among CEOs (along with other top executives) who get paid in
eight figures with salaries and stock options. It’s hard to explain
skyrocketing executive pay on purely economic grounds. There is
no reason to believe that top managers circa 2015 are more or less
essential than, say, in 1975 when comparable pay was ten times lower.
The best explanation I can come up with is that a social contract or
unwritten law against exorbitant executive income has disappeared in
the U.S. We’ll only get it back by social consensus and/or seriously
Put otherwise: It was
and is plain theft based on utter bullshit. But I agree
this degenerate abuse will be very difficult to stop.
LP: In your view,
is there anybody in the U.S. offering meaningful approaches to income
Not in the general
LP: So what’s to
stop us from becoming a Downton Abbey society?
We’ve got to have a real
social consensus that the way things are going is dangerous and
unacceptable, and an understanding that it will take seriously
progressive taxation to make a dent in the problem. But I am not
optimistic about the prospects. Through various channels ten percent of
national income has been transferred to an über class. Without the
political will, that sort of change is difficult to undo.
I agree - and the rich
thieves also hold most of the power; hold most of the mass media; pay
most of the politicians; and have arranged it to be this way since
Reality TV Is Teaching Us to Accept the American Police State
The next and last item for
today is an article by John Whitehead (who founded the Rutherford Institute):
This has the great
merit - for me - of starting with a quotation of Etienne de la Boétie's
- Montaigne's friend - "Discourse
on Voluntary Servitude" (<- link to an English translation on my
spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other
such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery,
the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny. By these
practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled
their subjects under the yoke, that the stupefied peoples, fascinated
by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learned
subservience as naively, but not so creditably, as little children
learn to read by looking at bright picture books.”—Etienne de La
Discourse on Voluntary Servitude: How Do Tyrants Secure Cooperation?”
Quite so - and it still
is the same, except that in these fine postmodern days the masses are
misled, tricked, lulled and stupefied by TV.
As to that instrument of
non-civilization of billions (who hardly read any book, because they
suggest that the more reality TV people watch—and I would posit that
it’s all reality TV—the more
difficult it becomes to distinguish
between what is real and what is carefully crafted farce.
Unfortunately, Americans have a voracious appetite for TV
entertainment. On average, Americans
spend five hours a day watching television. By the time we
reach age 65, we’re watching more
than 50 hours of television a week, and that number
increases as we get older. And reality TV programming consistently
captures the largest
percentage of TV watchers every season by an almost 2-1
It so happens that I
do not have a TV since 1970, mostly because much of it is very
stupid (and I happen to have a very high IQ) while I detest
being lied to by the morally degenerate propagandists'
But I am one of the very few (and do not know of any
other person who doesn't have a TV for 45 years now).
Here is more John Whitehead:
As I make clear in
my book A
Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,
we’re being subjected to a masterful sociological
experiment in how to dumb down and desensitize a population.
Yes - and besides: It
seems pretty hopeless to desire to teach much to the
This doesn’t bode well
for a citizenry able to sift through masterfully-produced propaganda in
order to think critically about the issues of the day. Then again, it
can be hard to distinguish between the two. As
cognitive scientist Steven Pinker points out, the hallmark
of well-told fiction is that the audience can’t tell the difference.
half of the population whose IQ is not higher than 100. And while I am very
sorry, this is the main problem for any democracy: At
least half of the
population is very easily manipulated, deceived and misled, by
a few clever
moral degenerates who run "public
relations" offices, and will not see they are being
deceived and misled.
This is on "Reality TV":
Since I have seen less "Reality TV" than almost anyone I just
copied this (but I suppose it is mostly correct).
TV is fiction sold as nonfiction, to an audience that likes to believe
both are possible simultaneously in life,” continues Weller.
“It’s entertainment, in the same way Cirque du Soleil enchants and The
Hunger Games enthralls. But what are we to make of unreal
realness? And what does it make of its viewers? Do they…mimic the
medium? Do they become shallow, volatile, mean?”
The answer is yes,
they do mimic the medium.
that those who watch reality shows tend to view what they see as the
“norm.” Thus, those who watch shows characterized by lying, aggression
and meanness not only come to see
such behavior as acceptable but find it entertaining.
There is also this:
Viewed through the
lens of “reality” TV programming, the NSA and other government
surveillance has become a done deal.
Yes, indeed: It seems as if
more than half (!) agree that anonymous spies know more
than they know themselves about their lives, their choices, their
their incomes, their sexual interests, their friends, their colleagues,
their work and their secrets, all - it is claimed by the spies - "to
protect them from terrorists" - which again they lap up as The Truth
because they are stupid, ignorant, and are fundamentally educated by
watching TV, and have hardly ever read a real book.
And there is this:
Ultimately, that’s what
this is all about: the reality shows, the drama, the entertainment
spectacles, the surveillance are all intended to keep us in line, using
all the weapons available to the powers-that-be. It’s the modern-day
equivalent of bread and circuses.
As for the sleepwalking
masses convinced that all of the bad things happening in the police
state—the police shootings, the police beatings, the raids, the
roadside strip searches—are happening to other people,
eventually, the things happening to other people will start
happening to us and our loved ones.
I fear that is the
most likely outcome.