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."
1. Documents Shine Light on
Shadowy New Zealand
2. We’re All Spies Now: CIA
Director Announces Major
3. Politics was once about
beliefs and society. Now it’s a
worship of money
Scheer: Liberation and Enslavement in the Same
Spy Stations Revealed: 'Sniff It All, Collect It
All, Know It All, Process It
All, Exploit It All'
This is a Nederlog of
March 8, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is on another finding from Snowden's materials,
and is about New Zealand's secret service; item 2
is on some - pretty dark - fundamental changes in the CIA; item 3 is a silly article in The Guardian (that I
selected because of its title); item 4 is a fine
piece by Robert Scheer; and item 5 is a good piece
on the same subject as item 1, but with some other
Also, this got uploaded a bit earlier than is normal, because it is
fine weather in Amsterdam, and I probably will go out in the afternoon.
And I uploaded yesterday
I and II of Hume's "Treatise" with my notes.
1. Documents Shine Light on Shadowy New Zealand
today is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Incidentally, the Sunday
Star-Times is from New Zealand, and their report (click the link) has
some more details and graphics than this Intercept's report.
Near the heartland of New
Zealand’s renowned wine country, there is a place that visitors are not
allowed to go. The peculiar large white domes that protrude from the
earth in the Waihopai Valley are surrounded by razor wire and shrouded
But now, newly revealed
documents from the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward
Snowden shine a light on what is behind the security perimeter. The
buildings there are crammed with sophisticated NSA spying technology,
used by New Zealand to sweep up text messages, emails, phone calls, and
other communications in bulk across the Asia-Pacific.
The documents, revealed
Saturday by the Sunday Star-Times in collaboration with The
Intercept, show how closely New Zealand has worked with the NSA to
maintain surveillance coverage of the region. The files also offer an
unprecedented insight into the Waihopai base, exposing how it’s been
integrated into a global eavesdropping network.
Here is a bit on what the New Zealand spies spy on - which is in fact everything
they can somehow get:
documents show that Waihopai relies heavily on NSA technology to
conduct electronic eavesdropping. The NSA tools and systems at the base
include LATENTTHREAT, which breaks the intercepted satellite signals
down into individual communications; LEGALREPTILE, which collects text
message and call metadata, showing who is contacting whom and when;
SEMITONE, which monitors fax and voice messages; FALLOWHAUNT, which
targets communications sent over small “VSAT” satellites; JUGGERNAUT,
which processes intercepted calls from mobile phone networks (including
voice, fax, data and text messages); LOPERS and SURFBOARD, both used to
snoop on phone calls; and XKEYSCORE,
a system used to gather intercepted Internet data, such as emails and
details about people’s online browsing habits.
There is also this, on
the legalities, which may be abbreviated as: The people don't want it,
but their elected politicians love it, and refuse to say anything.
story, the Tongan prime minister said the spying was “a
breach of trust,” the New Zealand Labour party leader Andrew Little
the spying a “mass invasion of privacy,” and the Greens filed
a legal complaint against the surveillance, which the party’s
co-leader Russel Norman said amounted to “crimes under New Zealand law
against entire countries.”
Ah, well: We steal all
your data, including your personal and your porn pictures, but we are not
going to admit or explain anything:
New Zealand’s prime minister
John Key insisted that the revelations were wrong, but then refused to
explain why, telling
a press conference he had “no intention of telling you about how we do
We are as gods, you are like our slaves, and we
know everything about you, while you know nothing
about us, not even who we are. And we anonymous spies think this is how
things ought to be.
There is more in the article, and also in item 5
Spies Now: CIA Director
Announces Major Restructuring
item is an article by Ryan Devereaux on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
There is more there by
Brennan, which I will not quote because it doesn't say anything, but
which gets ended by this overall statement:
The director of the CIA
announced this week a major overhaul of the agency’s organizational
structure ending the traditional separation between spies and analysts,
while also creating a new division to handle cyberwarfare.
Director John Brennan
officially announced the restructure to agency employees on Friday.
Thousands of spies and CIA analysts will be reassigned to new posts,
marking one of the most significant changes to the agency’s core
structure in its 67-year history.
And there is again more,
which you can read by clicking the last dotted link, but basically it
all seems murky to me.
The reorganization will
allow the CIA to “cover the entire universe, regionally and
functionally,” Brennan told reporters in a briefing earlier in the week.
Further details on the
mandates of the mission centers were hard to come by — the CIA declined
to provide additional briefing materials beyond the director’s prepared
was once about beliefs and society. Now it’s a worship of money
item is an article by Armando Iannucci on The Guardian:
This struck me as an
easy relativistic piece about fashions of talking rather than about
science, analysis, or indeed society. Here is the best bit:
Here are a few of the many
remarks I might have made:
Culpability is something
big business doesn’t recognise. Nor is it something political leaders
want to pursue. It has no market value. Banks fail, financial centres
crash, Swiss branches help evasion, but no one is arrested or put in
any kind of dock. Monoliths such as Vodafone come to gentlemen’s
agreements with HMRC over reduced payments in back tax. Meanwhile, vans
circulate telling foreigners to go home, posters go up telling us to
snitch on benefit scroungers and letters are put through people’s doors
warning them to get worried about their spare bedroom.
But dare to express a
single doubt over the supreme rationale of having the business
community running the whole show, and you’re derided as an economic
nincompoop, unfit for office. We can launch inquiries into the police,
the war and the press, but it’s the stuff of fantasy to imagine we’d
ever launch a full-blown investigation into why our business community
lives under permanent impunity. That’s because this belief that,
fundamentally, we should all be like businesses, has expanded
exponentially. It is political life itself. There’s nothing left. It’s
taken on the status of an unshatterable truth: if we are to have any
credibility, business is what we must do.
There’s no phrase more
guaranteed to get a politician jumpy and defensive than: “This is bad
But OK - to me this
reads like very bad journalism, but it may well be the standard
of comment that Wolfgang Blau (who thoroughly
destroyed The Guardian's fine website, without any discussion also)
loves to see.
- The reason "Culpability is something big business doesn’t
recognise" is in the end the
decision of Eric Holder and the American DoJ that
managers are not to be prosecuted - but I hear nothing
about that in this article.
- To say that if you "express a single doubt over the supreme
rationale of having the business community running the whole show" then "you’re
derided as an economic nincompoop"
is to tacitly accept the economic bullshit, lies and deceptions from
the GOP and Wall Street.
- To claim - four
times in a row - that "we should
all be like businesses" is to
write the bullshit of Paul Ryan and the GOP: Who other than
complete idiots believe that crap?
4. Robert Scheer: Liberation and Enslavement in
the Same Tool
item is an article by Robert Scheer on Salon:
This is a long and good
excerpt from Scheer's recent "They
Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and
Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy".
This is well worth reading all of, but I will give some quotations,
with some comments:
(...) we are
clearly losing the continuing battle between individual freedom and
collective conformity that has marked the history of human society. The
right to be left alone—to think, to experiment, to contemplate—has been
essential to the development of individual personality. The private
space, protected from the intimidating observation of others, is the
sacred ground where self-discovery occurs, and to the degree
that external forces intrude, whether of the state, church, or
marketplace, the sense of self will wither.
revolution that has been properly celebrated for irrevocably destroying
the parochial restraints of language, society, and religion, while
exposing much of the world’s population to a boundless world of
universally shared information, is at the same time stripping both
passive and active participants of their privacy in ways most don’t
This is mostly
correct, although I don't believe that "the sense of self will wither": I believe it will change,
indeed in harmful ways, for anybody who has ideas or values that are not
quite normal and clearly admitted (here and now) will - try to - not
express these anymore: There will be selves, simply because anyone and
everyone is tied to his or her own body, but most of these will also
soon know that they are very secondrate citizens, who have no
real choice but to obey their political masters - or else risk being
disappeared (with a secret court order that also forbids discussing
their disappearance ).
Next, I think Robert
Scheer articulates an important insight when he says that "most don’t comprehend" what is happening on and with their computers. It
sounds strange and stupid to me, but it still seems to be the case that
at most 1 to 2% of the people who use computers learn to program them -
which means that 99 to 98% has little idea of why and how they work,
except for some very general information.
Next, there is this
on the incredible capacities for spying and making a police state:
Do I exaggerate? Don’t
take my word for it; let the toolmakers tell you. In a burst of public
honesty, Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen wrote in April
2013: “Despite the expense, everything a regime would need to build an
incredibly intimidating digital police state—including software that
facilitates data mining and real-time monitoring of citizens—is
commercially available right now. . . . It’s the digital analog to arms
Yes, indeed - but one
major problem is that most users of computers really do not understand
the technology they so fondly use, and indeed also normally do not know
much about politics
(<- link to a survey of books you ought to have read, if you
are "politically interested", but very probably have not).
Then there is this:
The freedom to be left
alone, simple though it may sound, embodies the most basic of human
rights. If the individual cannot find sanctuary in his home and person,
he is easy prey for avenging governments, rapacious mobs, and
exploitive robbers. Some call it the right to privacy, which puts the
emphasis on seclusion for personal activity, but the framers of the
Constitution used the stronger concept of security, as in creating a
strong barrier to the intrusions of outside power. That’s why the
Constitution’s protection of individual space in the wording of the
Fourth Amendment stresses physical security, but its intent, certainly
as interpreted by the courts, is broader: to form a cocoon of safety
around the individual, which over the years we have come to associate
with the word privacy.
Yes, quite so - but it also
requires mentioning the spies, and the governments and large
corporations who pay them:
You have no
guarantee of any kind that the chiefs of government and of
large corporations are who they say they are, and are not
deceiving you (you very probably never met them, and only know a few of
their public sayings, most of which you cannot really check); you have no
guarantee of any kind that they are your equals in any useful sense
(intellectually, morally, personally) - all you ought to know is that
these are very rich, very powerful persons who these
days can get all information on you, while you cannot get any
information on them - who, based on their secret spying you don't know
about, may anonym- ously sign secret orders to arrest
you, which no one may discuss in public.
And there is this:
Which was - and still
is, nearly 14 years later! - a great shame and a great scandal: You
cannot trust your elected representatives to - even! - respect
The Constitution’s Fourth
Amendment guarantee of the sovereignty of the individual—“The right of
the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”—was
being treated as an irrelevant relic of a bygone civilization.
In fact, this happened in 2001:
justification for unfettered government intrusion in our privacy came
back in October 2001, when, without hearings or even serious
discussion, Congress rushed to pass “an Act to deter terrorist acts in
the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement
investigatory tools, and for other purposes.” With less consideration
than two months of fleeting thought in an atmosphere of panic could
provide, two centuries of constitutional law had been swept aside with
only sixty-six dissenting votes in the House and one in the Senate.
President Bush signed the measure into law on October 26, 2001. Laws
regarding wiretapping, searches of homes, examination of mail, the
right to due process, and even freedom from arbitrary and secret arrest
were suddenly neutered.
Precisely - it was a
coup d'état, and it was based on hysteria, minimal information and many
lies and deceptions from the govenment.
Anyway - there is a lot more under the last dotted link, and I
recommend you read all of it.
Global Spy Stations Revealed: 'Sniff It All, Collect It All, Know It
All, Process It All, Exploit It All'
The last item today is an article by Jon
Queally on Common Dreams:
This is another take
on the material in item 1. It starts as follows:
A new batch of Snowden
documents offer an unprecedented look into the close relationship of
the surveillance agencies of the so-called "Five Eyes" nations and how
a close look at a secretive base in New Zealand reveals new details
about a global network of listening stations are operating to fulfill
the NSA mantra on communications data which says, "Sniff it all,
collect it all, know it all, process it all and exploit it all."
Reported on Saturday by The
Intercept in the U.S. and the Sunday
Star-Times in New Zealand, the documents offer a detailed look
at the "alien-like" station located in Waihopai Valley and reveals who
and what kind of information the station targets, its inner workings,
and how its operations link to an international network of spy
facilities run by the other so-called "Five Eyes"—comprised of the
intelligence agencies of the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and
This is a good
article, that I recommend you read all of. Here is the bit that also
got quoted in the title. It is from the Sunday Star-Times:
All or nearly all the
major surveillance systems at the Waihopai base are US-supplied and
could be found identically at the other stations. All the phone calls
and Internet communications they intercept and sort at the base then go
into NSA databases.
The only difference
between this and an NSA base on New Zealand soil is that it is New
Zealanders who arrive each day to maintain the NSA surveillance systems.
Sniff it all, collect it
all, know it all, process it all and exploit it all - the jocular
spyspeak slogans are a perfect summary of a truly global surveillance
The Five Eyes alliance is
a global digital vacuum cleaner which can scoop up prodigious amounts
of information - far more than the human mind can really comprehend.
For more, click the
last dotted link.
Mar 9, 2015: Repaired two links.
 I do not know whether this has
happened, but it may happen. Also, I do not know how many
persons have been prosecuted by a secret court that also threatens them
long imprisonment if they even discuss the secret court's orders,
but these have happened.
For me, all of this is thoroughly unconstitutional and deeply
criminal and immoral - completely regardless of "the laws" Bush Jr.
signed: there are criminal and immoral laws - but I indeed am not
a citizen of the U.S.