March 12, 2015
Crisis: New Zealand, Spying, Data Retention, Greece, Repression
  "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. New Zealand Targets Trade Partners, Hacks Computers
     in Spy Operations

2. New spying legislation is needed, intelligence committee
     will say

3. Data retention: Netherlands court strikes down law as
     breach of privacy

The Noose Around Greece: How Central Banks Harness

The Fear of Homegrown Terror Is Breeding Repression in
     the UK


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, March 12, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about New Zealand's spying on those it calls its "friends"; item 2 is about the very greedy English attempts to give the government all the powers it wants (leaving hardly any to the ordinary citizens - and see item 5); item 3 is about a Dutch legal decision (as reported in an English paper); item 4 is about a good article by Ellen Brown, who explains how central banks harness governments; and item 5 is about a further increase in the - totally irresponsible, and quite inhuman - repressive powers the English government assigned to itself (helped by English politicians).

1. New Zealand Targets Trade Partners, Hacks Computers in Spy Operations   

The first item today is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

New Zealand is conducting covert surveillance operations against some of its strongest trading partners and has obtained sophisticated malware to infect targeted computers and steal data, newly released documents reveal.

The country’s eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, is carrying out the surveillance across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond as part of its membership in the Five Eyes, a spying alliance that includes New Zealand as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The documents, revealed on Tuesday by the New Zealand Herald in collaboration with The Intercept, expose more details about the scope of New Zealand’s involvement in the Five Eyes, and show that the agency’s reach extends far beyond its previously reported eavesdropping on at least ten small South Pacific nations and territories.

The first thing I should do here is refer you to this article on New Zealand, also in The Intercept: New Zealand Prime Minister Retracts Vow To Resign if Mass Surveillance Is Shown. (This links to my review of it. There are more links there.)

This is from two days ago and shows New Zealand's prime minister Key to be a liar, a cheat and a deceiver. And now here is, from the present article, a list of the countries the New Zealanders are spying on, also for the benefit of the NSA:
A top-secret document dated from April 2013 notes that the New Zealand agency “provides [the NSA with] collection on China, Japanese/North Korean/Vietnamese/South American diplomatic communications, South Pacific Island nations, Pakistan, India, Iran, and Antarctica.”
Note that formally most of these have friendly relations with New Zealand.
For example:

Other targets, such as Japan and India, are publicly lauded as close and valued New Zealand partners. The New Zealand government says that Japan is “a major bilateral and regional partner of New Zealand” and describes having “a long-standing and warm relationship” with India. But each of these countries, too, is still being targeted for surveillance.
There is more under the last dotted link.

2. New spying legislation is needed, intelligence committee will say

The next item is an article by Patrick Wintour on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

New laws are needed to deal with security and privacy in the UK following revelations of the activities of Western intelligence agencies by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) says in a report released on Thursday.

It is expected to strongly defend the need for intelligence agencies to collect bulk communications data on citizens – a tactic that was supported by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, in evidence to the committee – so long as there are clearer rules on purpose, reporting, oversight and the length of retention.

The foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, said this week the debate over the framework in which the agencies operate needs to be brought to an end early in the next parliament. The position is supported by the Labour and Liberal Democrat frontbenches who recognise that current legislation is outdated due to the speed of technological change.
Note the second paragraph - and indeed this whole article seems neutral or whitewashing (I am sorry to say). For example, here is Philip Hammond's complete bullshit:

The committee heard repeated evidence from the heads of the agencies in private and public that they complied with UK law, but defended the right to collect bulk data on the grounds that they had to have access to the entire haystack to find the needle.

Hammond told the committee “being able to acquire the data on a large scale and then filter it down allows a series of filters and cross-references to be automatically used to identify that tiny element within the bulk data acquired that could be worthy of further analysis and ultimately review by a human pair of eyes”.

He denied this represented mass surveillance, saying “mass intrusion arises at the point of the interrogation of the data not at the point when it is simply collected and filtered according to the automatic process”.

First paragraph: I completely deny that the GSHC has "the right to collect bulk data on the grounds that they had to have access to the entire haystack to find the needle". They don't have that right, and they should not have it. Besides - and see Wlliam Binney (<- Wikipedia) - they do not need the haystack to get information about "terrorism", for that could have been done much better by concentrating on known or realistically suspected terrorists; they abuse the pretext of "terrorism" to survey the whole population, which I can only explain as a gigantic power grab, and a very serious attempt to install an authoritarian government.

Second paragraph: The whole point is not that many of the data that are stolen are not read by "
a human pair of eyes". The point is that everybody's data of any kind are being gathered by anonymous spies to be read on whatever secret grounds that only the spies know. This is plain state terrorism, and is intended to scare people off from thinking, writing or saying anything they might think could endanger them. (Which may be almost anything - and who can tell? Everything is secret and anonymous.)

Third paragraph: Total and utter bullshit, indeed of the form that the Stasi or the KGB would also enthusiastically welcome: We need everybody's data to control everybody, but - the gross liar says - it doesn't matter because most of it is read ... by machines. Who cares who reads it as long as it is collected in secret, may be used in secret, and can be about absolutely anything?!

The committee is also likely to criticise Snowden for stealing the information from the NSA and for then allowing publication in the Guardian and other papers. Snowden is currently in exile in Russia.

The committee has been criticised for being insufficiently critical of the intelligence agencies and for their excessive readiness to accept assurances form the agencies. Its work has been hampered in its final stages by the resignation of its chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was exposed in a Channel 4 covert investigation offering to sell his services to what he believed to a Chinese firm.
That I must read in 2015, in The Guardian, the utter crap that this committe is still "likely to criticise Snowden for stealing the information from the NSA" seems to show things are not in The Guardian as they used to be.

So all in all this seems mostly just another agency that works for the GCHQ, or indeed for the Chinese, as that most honorable Sir Malcolm Rifkind thought he did.

3. Data retention: Netherlands court strikes down law as breach of privacy 

The next item is an article by "Staff and agencies in The Hague" on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

A judge has scrapped the Netherlands’ data retention law, saying that while it helps solve crime it also breaches the privacy of telephone and Internet users.

The ruling by a judge in The Hague followed a similar decision in April by the European Union’s top court that wiped out EU data collection legislation it deemed too broad and offering too few privacy safeguards.

The Dutch security and justice ministry said it was considering an appeal.

Under the Dutch law telephone companies were required to store information about all fixed and mobile phone calls for a year. Internet providers had to store information on their clients’ internet use for six months.

The written judgment by Judge GP van Ham conceded that scrapping the data storage “could have far-reaching consequences for investigating and prosecuting crimes” but added that this could not justify the privacy breaches the law entailed.

I say. Well... in fact I knew of this since yesterday (by way of Bits of Freedom), but I was curious whether it would be in the English press - and there it is.

And clearly, I quite agree with the judge - although it seems to me this judgment also could have been reached a lot earlier.

Then again, I am not certain this will stand, and a complicating factor is that the two freaks who were Minister of Justice & Safety (!!), and his Secretary, have just "left office" after it was found that they returned 4,7 million guilders of illegal earnings to a Dutch illegal drugsdealer (and I also remember that Teeven, the Secretary, (i) was being investigated for making 10 million guilders for himself in an anyway illegal large deal with hashish and (ii) refused to do anything for me, as Amsterdam's district attorney, knowing full well that I lived above illegal drugsdealers who had gassed me, who had threatened me with murder, and who had been arrested with 2 kilos of heroin and 1 kilo with cocaine). He is that manner of a man, and the laws in Holland are being kept by that manner of men.

4. The Noose Around Greece: How Central Banks Harness Governments

The next item is an article by Ellen Brown on Truthdig (and originally on the Web of Debt):

This starts as follows:
Remember when the infamous Goldman Sachs delivered a thinly-veiled threat to the Greek Parliament in December, warning them to elect a pro-austerity prime minister or risk having central bank liquidity cut off to their banks? (See January 6th post here.) It seems the European Central Bank (headed by Mario Draghi, former managing director of Goldman Sachs International) has now made good on the threat.
Note Draghi's former function: "managing director of Goldman Sachs International": Precisely the man Europe needs! Here is the noose Draghi and the ECB use:
The noose around Greece’s neck is this: the ECB will not accept Greek bonds as collateral for the central bank liquidity all banks need, until the new Syriza government accepts the very stringent austerity program imposed by the troika (the EU Commission, ECB and IMF). That means selling off public assets (including ports, airports, electric and petroleum companies), slashing salaries and pensions, drastically increasing taxes and dismantling social services, while creating special funds to save the banking system.
As to the prominence of the ECB: That it in fact political:
In the Eurozone, the national central banks of member countries have relinquished this critical credit power to the European Central Bank. And the ECB, like the US Federal Reserve, marches to the drums of large international banks rather than to the democratic will of the people.
Yes, indeed. And Ellen Brown quotes Pepe Escobar:
The troika intervened, not to save Greece, but to save private banking.

The ECB bought public debt from private banks for a fortune, because the ECB could not buy public debt directly from the Greek state. The icing on this layer cake is that private banks had found the cash to buy Greece’s public debt exactly from…the ECB, profiting from ultra-friendly interest rates. This is outright theft. And it’s the thieves that have been setting the rules of the game all along.
Beware of Masters of the Universe dispensing smiles. Draghi and the . . . ECB goons may dispense all the smiles in the world, but what they are graphically demonstrating once again is how toxic central banking is now enshrined as a mortal enemy of democracy.
Precisely. Here is a lesson Ellen Brown draws:
National central banks are no longer tools of governments for the benefit of the people. Governments have become tools of a global central banking system serving the interests of giant international financial institutions. These “too big to fail” behemoths must be saved at the expense of local banks, their depositors, and local economies generally.
Yes, indeed.

5. The Fear of Homegrown Terror Is Breeding Repression in the UK 

The last item today is an article by Avista Stahl on Truthout:
This starts as follows:
Two weeks before The Washington Post reported the identity of the masked ISIS executioner known as "Jihadi John," the British government assumed vast and wide-ranging new powers to counter the perceived threat of domestic Islamic extremism. The controversial Counter-Terrorism and Security (CTS) bill enables UK authorities to strictly control the movement of suspected terrorists, with minimal judicial oversight. It also mandates that a vast number of public sector employees - including doctors, professors and youth workers - report possible signs of radicalization to the government, or risk arrest.
Let me formulate this as a question, noting the term "Repression in the UK" in the title (with which I thoroughly agree):

Who does not think that the attempt to force (for that is what "mandate" means) ordinary citizens and specifically:
"a vast number of public sector employees - including doctors, professors and youth workers - [to] report possible signs of radicalization to the government, or risk arrest"
is not an attempt to impose fascist laws on these ordinary citizens? (I'd really like to know - and this is the first time I've read that this forced agreement to the government's policies and practices now has been "assumed" in Great Britain.)

In any case, I think this is extra-ordinarily sick - and I am very glad not to live in a Great Britain with the prresent government, present GCHQ and present crazy politicians: This kind of horror was not even contemplated in the 1950ies, 1960ies, 1970ies and 1980ies when the dangers of terrorism were very much greater than they are now (for there was an enormous Soviet bloc with large well-trained armies and atomic weapons).

And here is more of this English sickness
Among the most sweeping powers the bill bestowed upon government officials is the ability to issue "temporary exclusion orders," which prohibit British citizens suspected of terrorism-related activity abroad from returning home for a period of up to two years. The bill also expands the government's powers to seize passports from people suspected of involvement in terrorism. Both powers can be applied without any initial judicial oversight.
Merely being "suspected" of "terrorism-related activity" may cause some governmental yahoo to impose your effective starvation or to condemn you to a life of crime, if you are British, for other states have no duties to "British citizens", and especially not if these are "suspected" of "terrorism-related activity".

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