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. Police continued spying on
Labour activists after their
election as MPs
2. The Guardian view on
surveillance of MPs: don’t confuse
dissent with crime
3. FBI told its cyber
surveillance programs have actually
not gone far enough
Terrible Trade Pact Is a Scam That Must Be
5. Bankers Hate Peace
This is a Nederlog of
March 26, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item
1 and item 2 both are about the British police
spying on British politicians, and also a little about The Guardian; item 3 is about anothe Guardian article (good, this
time) about the FBI; item 4 is about a good article
- except for the silly first sentence - about the TPP; and item 5 is about banking, and has two dotted links (the last quite interesting).
1. Police continued spying on Labour
activists after their
election as MPs
item is an article by Rob Evans and Rowena Mason on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Do I say "I say"? No I
don't, for similar things happened in Holland, in so far as these are
known, and it seems elsewhere as well. Besides, I don't like the title
article, that seems to suggest that spying on non-MPs, especially of
such radicals as belong to the Blairified New Labour (by a Blarified
New Labour government), is quite
OK, which I think is plainly ridiculous and contemptible.
Police conducted spying
operations on a string of Labour politicians during the 1990s, covertly
monitoring them even after they had been elected to the House of
Commons, a whistleblower has revealed.
Peter Francis, a former
undercover police officer, said he read secret files on 10 MPs during
his 11 years working for the Metropolitan police’s special branch. They
include Labour’s current deputy leader, Harriet Harman, the former
cabinet minister Peter Hain and the former home secretary Jack Straw.
Francis said he
personally collected information on three MPs – Diane Abbott, Jeremy
Corbyn and the late Bernie Grant – while he was deployed undercover
infiltrating anti-racist groups. He also named Ken Livingstone, the
late Tony Benn, Joan Ruddock and Dennis Skinner as having been
subjected to special branch intelligence-gathering. The files on all 10
were held by Scotland Yard.
The whistleblower said
special branch files were often “very extensive” and typically
described the subject’s political beliefs, personal background such as
parents, school and finances, and demonstrations they attended. Some
contained “some personal and private matters”, Francis added.
For I think people in general, MPs and non-MPs, should not be
spied upon at all, except on plausible evidence that
would entail they committed a crime if the evidence were given in court
and also except if overseen by a public judge.
Anything else gives far too great powers to the government
(that you never can trust), to the police (always pro-government),
and/or the secret services (always pro-government).
Also, although my opinion is not radical at all, and
was widely accepted, the Blauified
Guardian seems to disagree:
Guardian view on surveillance of MPs: don’t confuse dissent with crime
item is an article by "Editorial" on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
We reveal tonight
that at least 10 Labour MPs were covertly monitored in the early years
of Tony Blair’s first government, apparently on suspicion that they
posed a threat to public order. Some, like Diane Abbott, were involved
in anti-racist activities, others in anti-nuclear campaigns.
Astonishingly, the names include Jack Straw, possibly at the time when
he was actually home secretary, as well as his cabinet colleague
Harriet Harman. None of them has ever faced any criminal charge. This
is both a grotesque breach of police power and a grave intrusion on the
privilege of elected MPs, a privilege that exists to allow them to be
guardians of their constituents’ freedoms. That does not mean that they
are above the law. But nor are the security services or the police.
They all need the protection provided by a transparent legal framework.
At the moment, it is not clear that MPs have it.
I have a simple question
or two: What is "the
privilege of elected MPs, a privilege
that exists to allow them to be guardians of their constituents’
freedoms"?! And why should "MPs have it" - but ordinary British people be denied it?!
Besides, I'd say that it is clear that MPs do not have
it - whatever the principle precisely is - since "at least 10
Labour MPs were covertly monitored", by their own Labour government.
And yes, I have heard about Harold Wilson's promise (that the
phones of MPs would not be listened to). But that was ca. 1961
and it was a mere comment.
Also, I have read Tony Blair reaffirmed
Harold Wilson's comment, but that was Tony Blair, who clearly was lying.
So this really is unclear to me: What is "the privilege of elected MPs, a privilege
that exists to allow them to be guardians of their constituents’
freedoms"? (I am asking,
and could not find it on Wikipedia.)
3. FBI told its cyber surveillance programs
have actually not gone far enough
item is an article by Spencer Ackerman and Alan Yuhas on The Guardian:
This starts as
An in-house review of the
FBI has found the agency failing to go far
enough in its expansion of physical and cyber surveillance programs,
urging the bureau to recruit deeper networks of informants and bring
its technological abilities up to pace with other intelligence agencies.
While billed as a damning
critique of the FBI, the in-house assessment known as the 9/11 Review
Commission primarily attacks the bureau for not moving fast enough to
become a domestic intelligence agency, precisely the direction in which
the FBI has pivoted since the 2001 terror attacks.
phrase "While billed as a
damning critique of the FBI"
is another sign of the inversions
of all terminology that these days - and since the early 2000s - are
so very popular among politicians or their think tanks:
United" = "Billionaires United", "Progressive Coalition" =
"Conservative Coalition", "Transparent" = "Secret" etc. etc. (I merely
observe it, but this is a very strong tendency: wrap your
extreme conservative plans in a terminological progressive wrapper,
and pretend you mean well.)
The "in-house review of the FBI"
has lots of praise for itself:
“With the new and almost
entirely unclassified AG Guidelines, special agents working on national
security issues could now at the assessment stage ‘recruit and task
sources, engage in interviews of members of the public without a
requirement to identify themselves as FBI agents and disclose the
precise purpose of the interview, and engage in physical surveillance
not requiring a court order’ just as special agents working on
organized crime investigations could do,” the authors wrote.
That is, now the FBI can
legally deceive anyone "without a requirement to identify themselves as FBI agents
and disclose the precise purpose of the interview" and track anyone without any court
knowing of it: the FBI now
may "engage in physical
surveillance not requiring a court order’".
Note the last
quoted statement was mostly quoted from the "in-house
review of the FBI".
Here is what others found:
Last year, the federal
government’s civil liberties watchdog confirmed that FBI agents can
search international communications from Americans collected in bulk
from the National Security Agency without even a log of their access. Numerous
studies, including a 2010 Justice Department report, have confirmed
that the FBI abused its powers to issue nonjudicial subpoenas known as
“exigent letters” or “national security letters” to improperly access Americans’ phone data.
There is considerably
more in this article.
Terrible Trade Pact Is a Scam That Must Be Stopped
item is an article by Jim Hightower on AlterNet:
This is from the
beginning, though not the start ():
Once again, the American
people are being victimized by a hush-hush blanket of official secrecy,
rhetorical dodges and outright lies. This time it's not about wholesale
spying on us by our own government, but a wholesale assault on our
jobs, environment, health and even our people's sovereignty. The
assaulters are a cabal of global corporations and the Obama
Their weapon is a scheme
hidden inside a scam. Called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the scam is
their claim that TPP is nothing but another free trade deal -- albeit a
whopper of a deal -- one that ties our economy to Brunei, Vietnam, and
nine other nations around the Pacific Rim. But of the 29 chapters in
this deal, only five are about tariffs and other trade matters.
The real deal is in the
24 other chapters that create a supranational scheme of secretive,
private tribunals that corporations from any TPP nation can use to
challenge and overturn our local, state and national laws. All a
corporate power has to do to win in these closed proceedings is to show
that a particular law or regulation might reduce its future profits.
This is big stuff,
amounting to the enthronement of a global corporate oligarchy over us.
Yet it's been negotiated among trade officials of the 12 countries in
strict secrecy. Even members of Congress have been shut out -- but some
500 corporate executives have been allowed inside to shape the
Now that President Obama
and his corporate team intend to spring it on us and start ramming TPP
through Congress. He recently arranged a briefing to woo House
Democrats to support it -- but he even classified the briefing as a
secret session, meaning the lawmakers are not allowed to tell you, me
or anyone else anything about what they were told.
Yes, indeed. There is
more in the article, and it is good (but I do not
two opening sentences .)
item is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:
This is from the
In fact, the article is
quite good, but the article quoted above seems even better, and I would
have reviewed it if I had found it in 2014. It is better because it is
an interview with Goldman Sach's former managing director Nomi Prins:
managing director of Goldman Sachs – and head of the international
analytics group at Bear Stearns in London (Nomi Prins) – notes:
Throughout the century
that I examined, which began with the Panic of 1907 … what I found by
accessing the archives of each president is that through many
events and periods, particular bankers were in constant communication
[with the White House] — not just about financial and economic
policy, and by extension trade policy, but also about aspects
of World War I, or World War II, or the Cold War, in terms of
the expansion that America was undergoing as a superpower in the world,
politically, buoyed by the financial expansion of the banking community.
This starts as follows, and is
very well worth reading in full:
An interesting woman. I'll
quote two bits. First, about deregulation:
“It no longer matters who
sits in the White House,” former Goldman Sachs managing director Nomi
Prins writes in her new book “All
the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power.”
“Presidents no longer even try to garner banker support for
population-friendly policies, and bankers operate oblivious to the
needs of national economies. There is no counterbalance to their power.”
Prins, who also worked for
Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Chase Manhattan Bank, is now a fellow
at the think tank Demos and a member of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Federal
Reserve Advisory Council.
Precisely - and I say
"precisely", because I deduced the same, but did so since 2008, while
Nomi Prins was the managing director of Goldman Sachs while the above
What we see in history is
that whenever there are periods where bankers have lost money, they
want to regroup and find ways in which they can make new money. And if
regulations are in the way, then regulations must be dismantled.
And so through George
Bush I’s administration, there was tremendous pressure to dismantle
aspects of Glass-Steagall, and that culminated in the full repeal of
the Glass-Steagall Act under Clinton. And the aftermath of that was —
absent barriers to global activity, speculation mingled with the
increase in derivatives activity, and the complexity of financial
security and deals — we found ourselves in the crisis of 2008.
And second about the noble,
changing, progressive, transparent Obama:
Obama’s economic and
financial policy, Cabinet and advisers are largely retreads of the
Clinton administration. So from the standpoint of the banking
community, and connections to the banking community, there was very
much an overlap, if not a complete overlap, of individuals who were all
key to the deregulation of the banking industry, and who either came
from, or now speak for, large sums of money through the banking
The policies of not just
lax regulation of banks, but subsidizing their failures — which the
Clinton administration did after the 1994 Mexican Peso Crisis, and
which the Bush administration even before that, did with the
third-world debt crisis — was magnified many times under the Obama
administration. His favorite banker was said to be — by the New York
Times — Jamie Dimon. The number of visits, which I document in the
book, between the White House and the key leaders of the big six Wall
Street banks, increased five- to tenfold under Obama versus under
George W. Bush.
So the way I look at Obama is that his policies were a continuation of
Clinton’s policies with respect to banking and finance, which were a
continuation of George Bush’s policies, and Reagan’s policies, as they
were actually shaped by Bush’s banking friends of the time.
So this is an article
to read all of.
 The article
starts with these two statements:
Ed, please call
home! Edward Snowden, that is: Come quickly; your country needs you.
which - I am sorry to
say - I find totally pointless and quite silly.