February 19, 2015
Crisis: UK Surveillance, Corporate Spying, Eric Holder, Bernie Sanders, Fascist TTIP
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "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


1. Thousands Join Legal Fight Against UK Surveillance —
     And You Can, Too

2. How the Government Outsourced Intelligence to Silicon

3. 'Nation's Top Censorship Officer': Targeted NYT
     Journalist Rebukes Eric Holder over Press Freedoms

4. Bernie Sanders: The Pro-Worker, Pro-Growth
     Experiment in Greece Is Under Threat

5. Smaller Businesses Dread the Wrath of US-EU
     “Free-Trade” Deal

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, February 19, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is on the fight against surveillance that seems possible now in Great Britain; item 2 is a fine piece by Robert Scheer that explains much of the spying for the government is in fact done by private corporations (and see item 5); item 3 is about James Risen and the creepy and fraudulent Eric Holder; item 4 is about Bernie Sanders on Greece; and item 5 is about the TTIP in Europe, that gets identified by me - on excellent grounds - as a piece of fascism, because it is secret, cannot even
be reported on by elected parliamentarians, and is meant to destroy nations and democracies wherever they oppose the interests or the profits of the multi- national Big Corporations whose lawyers and lobbyists wrote it (and are the only ones who know it!).

Thousands Join Legal Fight Against UK Surveillance — And You Can, Too

The first item today is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Thousands of people are signing up to join an unprecedented legal campaign against the United Kingdom’s leading electronic surveillance agency.

On Monday, London-based human rights group Privacy International launched an initiative enabling anyone across the world to challenge covert spying operations involving Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, the National Security Agency’s British counterpart.

The campaign was made possible following a historic court ruling earlier this month that deemed intelligence sharing between GCHQ and the NSA to have been unlawful because of the extreme secrecy shrouding it.

Consequently, members of the public now have a rare opportunity to take part in a lawsuit against the spying in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a special British court that handles complaints about surveillance operations conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Privacy International is allowing anyone who wants to participate to submit their name, email address and phone number through a page on its website.

I say. And in 1 1/2 years since the first revelation of Snowden was published!

The "historic court ruling" seems to have been OK, in principle, but it seems odd to me - in legal principle, to be sure; not in terms of totalitarian secrecy - that a court ruling that was made "
because of the extreme secrecy shrouding" by the NSA and the GCHQ, should be followed by a lawsuit that again takes part in "a special British court" - but yes, this is better (less bad) than no chance on a court case.

And you got a link above. Here is Eric King of Privacy International:
In a statement announcing the campaign on Monday, Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, said: “The public have a right to know if they were illegally spied on, and GCHQ must come clean on whose records they hold that they should never have had in the first place.
Yes. There is more there, but I must say I am quite doubtful about the outcome.

The reason is certainly not Eric King or Privacy International, but this statement from a "Home Office spokesperson", that was prodded by The Intercept:
The current regime governing both the intelligence agencies’ external interception and intelligence sharing regimes is lawful and European Court of Human Rights compliant.
And my reason is that the so-called "European Human Rights" are not so much human rights, as long lists of exceptions to human rights that allow the spying agencies to spy on anyone for almost any reason.

So I do not expect much of this, because this European Bill of Human Rights is deeply corrupt, though I agree this must be tried.

How the Government Outsourced Intelligence to Silicon Valley

The next item is an article by Robert Scheer on Truthdig:

This starts as follows - and is an excerpt from “They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy”, that got published this month:

For years, the outsourcing of defense and intelligence work was, with good reason, controversial in political circles. But in the last years of Bill Clinton’s administration, the president authorized the CIA’s creation of the first US government–sponsored venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, designed to invest in cutting-edge Silicon Valley companies. The firm, named after Ian Fleming’s fictional character “Q,” who masterminds James Bond’s spy gadgets, was founded on September 29, 1999, when the intelligence agencies came to realize they couldn’t produce the technology required to make sense of the vast amount of data they had acquired.

The firm’s mission is to “identify, adapt, and deliver innovative technology solutions to support the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and broader US community.” This process provided a way of tapping the resources and creativity of Silicon Valley—which undoubtedly had gained a technological edge over government in the post–Cold War period—without the burden of trying to directly recruit the free spirits of Palo Alto into government bureaucracy.

There are several important points in this article, that is well worth reading all of. Here is the first:
In this burgeoning market of government/tech synergy—the core of the military-intelligence complex—for-profit corporations play a deceptively important role in disguising the extent of government spying on its own people. As is the case with the government’s seizure and exploitation of the massive data collected by Google, Facebook, and other Internet companies, there is an illusion that this information is simply an enhancement for shoppers and social networkers, rather than the means by which our government keeps tabs on all of our activities—from the political to the most personal.
That is, the main roles in the "military-intelligence complex" (which I agree is currently the better name for what Eisenhower called the "military-industrial  complex") are played by private for-profit corporations, much rather than by governmental bureaucrats.

Also, the main reason why the government gathers these data is indeed to keep "
tabs on all of our activities—from the political to the most personal" - and to use the information as soon as this becomes practical.

Next, here is the second (and there is much more about Palantir in the article):
Palantir’s work for the spy agencies is highly classified, and the company has a very active public relations operation aimed at creating a benign impression of its intentions and stressing its non-spy activity, which includes data integration of investment bank knowledge bases as well as “philanthropy engineering.” According to the company, this engineering involves working on “creating slavery-free supply chains, addressing small-plot farmer food security, improving global health and fighting disease outbreaks, providing humanitarian relief in the wake of natural disasters, and more.” But it is clear that the company, from its inception, had made its primary function the designing of surveillance programs for the spy agencies.
This shows a general principle of the GOP, since at least 20 years: Considerable parts of its activities are hidden behind elaborate pretenses of doing the right, progressive, liberal things, also with all the right, progressive, liberal terms: “creating slavery-free supply chains, addressing small-plot farmer food security, improving global health and fighting disease outbreaks, providing humanitarian relief in the wake of natural disasters, and more.”

In fact, all of this hides the "and more", which is rightwing secret intrigueing, including "
the designing of surveillance programs for the spy agencies".

Also, and as I started with saying, this is not just Palantir, but a GOP principle, and indeed also a govermental principle (that also explains Barack Obama's progressive talks, that hide his rightist decisions).

Here is the last paragraph of the article:

So there you have it. So-called private companies that either are directly funded by the US government or profit from US government contracts move to destroy organizations and individuals who dare to expose the reach of government and corporate power—a classic manifestation of the government’s threat to our constitutionally protected freedoms. But because for-profit private companies are used as proxies to engage in such nefarious behavior, the government threat to freedom goes largely unnoticed. Hence the prowess and danger of the military-intelligence complex.

Yes indeed. There is a considerable amount more under the last dotted link, and it is all well worth reading.

'Nation's Top Censorship Officer': Targeted NYT Journalist Rebukes Eric Holder over Press Freedoms  

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Persecuted New York Times journalist James Risen accused U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of being the "nation's top censorship officer" in a searing rebuke to comments made by Holder on Tuesday that the way his department handled the case of the now-imprisoned CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling should exemplify "how the Justice Department can proceed."

Holder made the comments at the National Press Club on Tuesday when answering a question about the DOJ's crackdown on leaks and whistleblowers. After years of doggedly pursuing Risen's testimony against Sterling, the DOJ finally dropped their case after Risen vowed he would go to jail rather than reveal his source. The prize-winning journalist has previously described the Obama administration as "the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation."

"If you look at the last case involving Mr. Risen," Holder said, "the way in which that case was handled after the new policies were put in place [is] an example of how the Justice Department can proceed."

During his comments, Holder further argued that the Department of Justice has been lenient on government whistleblowers, despite the fact that his office under the Obama Administration has overseen more prosecution of such leaks under the Espionage Act than every other administration combined.

My goodness what an impertinent legal creep is Eric Holder!

Here are James Risen's responses, sent by Twitter:

I deplore the medium (for I don't like Twitter) but applaud the messages.
And there is more under the last dotted link.

4. Bernie Sanders: The Pro-Worker, Pro-Growth Experiment in Greece Is Under Threat 

The next item is an article by Bernie Sanders (<- Wikipedia) that originally appeared on The (Blauified) Guardian, where I did not see it, hidden as it is in totally unclear clusters, that are presented in page after page of pure text, model 1992, but that I found on Truthout without any searching:

This starts as follows:

While the wealthiest 85 individuals on the planet own more wealth than the bottom half of the world's population – and when the top 1% will soon own more wealth than the bottom 99% – the people of Greece and the anti-austerity party, Syriza, they elected to lead them are struggling to rebuild their economy so that ordinary people there can live with a shred of dignity and security.

But powerful international interests are putting the pro-growth, pro-worker experiment in progressive democracy currently underway in grave danger.

Greece is on the verge of leaving the Eurozone rather than accept a continuation of the reduced government spending measures imposed on it by the union's other 18 members in exchange for a credit package that expires at the end of February; talks in Brussels broke down on Monday after the Syriza negotiators refused to break the party's promises to the Greek people by accepting more punishing austerity. The German government, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) all seem intent on bringing the new government to heel, regardless of the people for whom German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble claims to feel sorry.

The rest of the article is a decent summary of what happened so far, and also includes a warning against the neo-fascist Greek party "Golden Dawn", that scored third in the last Greek elections.

But yes, the European policitians, left, right and center, and in vast majority, rather want an enormous social mess led by the Greek neo-fascists than allowing the Greeks to do their own thing, and repay a bit slower or a bit less.

Smaller Businesses Dread the Wrath of US-EU “Free-Trade” Deal

The next and last item today is by Don Quijones on Wolf Street:
This starts as follows:

As political branding exercises go, the marketing of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been a disaster from day one, particularly in Europe. In the space of less than two years, the negotiators of the trade deal between the US and the EU have managed to alienate just about every European citizen who is aware of the trade agreement, which, unfortunately, is to say not many.

Despite its extensive implications, TTIP has generated relatively little coverage, not least because negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and conducted almost exclusively with corporate lobbyists. Indeed, so clandestine are the talks that the few Members of the European Parliament that are granted access can only view the plans in their original documentation, in a secure location, with the threat of espionage charges hanging over them if they are caught making copies or sharing the details with the public.

I said it before, and I say it again, with a grandfather murdered by the Nazis and a father locked up as a "political terrorist" by the Nazis for more than 3 years, 9 months and 15 days (during which he weighed no more than 37.5 kilograms at one point):

It is fascistic, not democratic, to keep the dictatorial plans that will wreck the lived of hundreds of millions a deep secret, and moreover a secret that is so deeply secret that not even the elected representatives of the people are allowed to make copies or share details about these fascistic plans.

But I'll explain it again, after another quote from Don Quijones, that is about the fact that the TTIP is not for free trade, and not even for "free trade", in spite of its name and all propaganda: it against free trade, and is there to protect the financial interests and profits of the big corporations, and only the big corporations, and it does so in fundamentally anti-democratic ways:
With TTIP the exact opposite would occur: barriers would be erected across Europe and the U.S., but not to protect national industries, economies or local jobs, but rather the world’s largest multinational corporations from the dual threat of economic competition and national democracy.
Precisely. So, if you define fascism as the American Heritage Dictionary does:
fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
then the following is quite reasonable:

A system that seeks to break nations and national democracies by secret plans that are made and seen only by corporate lawyers and corporate lobbyists, and that may not be copied or even reported on (!!) by the elected representatives of the people
, and that oppose any national legislation that opposes corporate profits, and that wants to institute special courts where corporate lawyers can decide, without appeal, to convict nations that adopt laws that protect their citizens, to huge punishments, or even from adopting laws that might diminish the profits of the multinational corporations, and again convict the peoples of these nations to huge punishments, is a deeply fascistic plan, that also only could arise because the "state and business leadership" have merged in the United States since 9/11/01 at the latest. [1]

If you want the TTIP it means that either you are a fascist, or a corporate lawyer, or a corporate lobbyist, or a politician (left, right, or center) who gets paid by lobbyists - or a completely blind propagandized idiot.

Also, the whole plan to impose this sick and degenerate plan in secret, and the complete denial of the rights of parliamentarians to be informed and to publicly discuss what effects their electorate is deeply fascistic.

In any real democracy there is no room for any secret plan that overturns the rights of nations and the rights of parliaments.

[1] For it seems that by now almost everyone with any major economical role that is a member of Obama's government comes from Goldman Sachs and/or expects to go there (again) - and if it is not from Goldman Sachs, then from one of the other few big banks. Government by the bankers, of the bankers, for the bankers!

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