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."
Against Surveillance' as USA
Freedom Act Fails in Senate
2. The TPP Is a Grave
Threat to Climate Action
Track Bill as Opposition Readies for
4. NSA bulk phone records
collection to end
Freedom Act failure
5. FBI Confirms No Major
Terrorism Cases Cracked Via
Unconstitutional Patriot Act
This is a Nederlog of Sunday,
is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article on Common Dreams, that
concludes that part of the surveillance that is happening in the US
since 2001 probably will be stopped; item 2 is
about an article by Naomi Klein that correctly diagnosis the TPP as a
grave threat to democracy; item 3 is about an
article that notes the TPP has gotten a Fast Track in the Senate, but
not in the House (that seems against it); item 4 is
about an article on The Guardian that explains why the NSA collecting
bulk phone records probably will stop (in one of its forms); and item 5 is about an article on Washington's Blog that
explains that the battle against surveillance is far from won.
Also, this file got uploaded quite early, and may be one of the
earliest Nederlogs ever - which gives me occasion to enjoy the
weather in Amsterdam, which is fine.
Finally, though I am still hesitant, this is one of the least
pessimistic Nederlogs in two years (at least), mostly because at least part
of the bulk surveillance the NSA did (which also was totally fruitless
as far as terrorism was concerned) will have to be stopped. (But see item 5.)
Tactical Win Against Surveillance' as USA Freedom Act Fails in Senate
item today is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This has a
subtitle which I quote because it helps some:
"The failure of
these bills to pass shows just how dramatically the politics of
surveillance changed once the extent of the government’s surveillance
programs became known to the public."
But this doesn't mean I
agree, even though the quote is true as far as it goes. Here is the
beginning of the article:
This is at least a good
factual resumé. This
continues as follows, which may be right for all I know, though it does
seem a bit early to me:
In a move that is being
hailed by civil liberties advocates as a victory for privacy rights,
the U.S. Senate on Friday rejected the USA Freedom Act, a bill that
sought to rein in the National Security Agency's (NSA) spying powers
but that would have reauthorized some of the most controversial
provisions of the USA Patriot Act.
By a vote of
57-42, the Senate did not pass the bill that would have required 60
votes to move forward, which means that the NSA must start winding down
its domestic mass surveillance program this week. The Senate also
rejected a two-month extension of the existing program by
54-45, also short of the necessary 60 votes.
The Obama administration
had previously warned Congress that if the Senate was unable to extend
Section 215 of the Patriot Act by May 31, which the NSA leans on to
justify its mass surveillance program, the government would need to
launch its shutdown of the phone records collection operation ahead of
time. With the U.S. House of Representatives already gone for Memorial
Day holiday, the Senate had until this weekend to resolve its gridlock.
Section 215 is set to
expire on June 1 absent congressional action.
The House voted
in favor of the USA Freedom Act earlier this month.
Calling the vote a
historic departure from the Patriot Act, "Sunsetting the Patriot Act is
the biggest win for ending mass surveillance programs," Tiffiniy Cheng,
co-founder of Fight for the Future, a coalition of civil liberties and
privacy rights organizations, said in response to the vote. "We are
seeing history in the making and it was because the public stood up for
our rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association—and
there’s no turning back now."
And this is the end of the
This was a "historic
tactical win against surveillance," Cheng added.
That seems correct to
me, which does mean that, mostly because of Edward Snowden, and Glenn
Greenwald, Laura Poitras and some other radical journalists,
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a
Republican presidential candidate who spent more than 10 hours on
Wednesday night filibustering McConnell's attempts to vote on the
Patriot Act, said early Saturday morning that the Senate's move "is
only the beginning."
"We should never give up
our rights for a false sense of security," Paul said in a statement.
"This is only the beginning—the first step of many. I will continue to
do all I can until this illegal government spying program is put to an
end, once and for all."
"These bills were an
attempt to disregard the abuses revealed by Snowden and cement mass
surveillance into law in defiance of the Constitution, the courts, and
public sentiment," said Jeff Lyon, CTO of Fight for the Future. "The
failure of these bills to pass shows just how dramatically the politics
of surveillance changed once the extent of the government’s
surveillance programs became known to the public."
it seems as if the relentless onslaught of the NSA of freedom and
liberty, and towards authoritarianism and totalitarianism, at least has
And that is a major and quite positive result, although I confess I am
not certain till June. (Also, see item 5.)
2. The TPP Is a Grave Threat to Climate Action
item today is an article by Naomi Klein on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows,
and is all true to the best of my knowledge:
There is considerably more in the
article, but I agree: The TTP and the TTIP must be stopped.
Dear MoveOn member,
I’m writing because
President Obama and the U.S. Congress need to hear from you before they
rush toward approving a massive new trade agreement that would benefit
corporations and undercut serious efforts to fight climate change.
Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP—has been called “NAFTA on steroids.”
It’s the latest and largest in a series of international agreements
that have attacked working women and men, fueled mindless and
carbon-intensive consumption, and prevented governments from enforcing
their own laws to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
NAFTA-esque deals around
the world have been a disaster for democracy, good jobs, and
which is why I hope you’ll click here and sign the petition to stop the
TPP from being rushed through Congress.
Trade deals such as NAFTA
and the TPP bestow corporations with outrageous new powers, including
the right to directly challenge participating governments for enacting
any measures that jeopardize their profits. These corporate grievances
are heard by unelected, unaccountable trade tribunals—and as history
has shown, the energy and mining giants will seize on them to try
to gut all manner of environmental laws.
Existing trade deals and
World Trade Organization rules are already being used to block
subsidies for renewable energy and other supports for the clean energy
sector. And the expansion of such agreements has gone hand in hand with
the accelerating rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Senate Passes Fast Track Bill as Opposition
Readies for Showdown
item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
There is also this, a
little further on:
At the tail end of a
frenzied legislative week, the U.S. Senate quietly voted to pass Trade
Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as "Fast Track," a bill that
would give President Barack Obama increased power to ram through trade
deals without congressional input.
The Senate voted 62-37 to
approve a six-year renewal of Fast Track authority. The vote was
expected, coming just days after the Senate voted to end debate over
the legislation and move forward with the bill, which will now go to
the U.S. House for what the Associated Press says
will be a "highly unpredictable summer showdown".
About 20 Democrat-backed
amendments to the legislation failed along the way, frustrating
senators who oppose Fast Track as a threat to the economy and workers'
As Common Dreams
has previously reported,
"Environmental, labor, food safety, public health, and digital rights
groups oppose Fast Track on the grounds that it forces Congress to
abdicate its policy-making responsibility while greasing the skids for
secretly negotiated, corporate-friendly, rights-trampling trade pacts
like the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership]. "
So: While the result in
the Senate is disappointing, the struggle against the TTP continues in
to The Hill, "Sen. Elizabeth Warren
(D-Mass.), who led the opposition of liberal Democrats in the upper
chamber, has already met Democratic House allies such as Rep. Rosa
DeLauro (D-Mass.) to build a roadblock."
Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.), who is running for president as a Democrat, lambasted the
Senate's vote on Saturday. "The Senate just put the interests of
powerful multi-national corporations, drug companies and Wall Street
ahead of the needs of American workers," Sanders said in a statement.
"If this disastrous trade agreement is approved, it will throw
Americans out of work while companies continue moving operations and
good-paying jobs to low-wage countries overseas," he continued,
referring to Obama's plan to use Fast Track authority to expedite
passage of the TPP.
NSA bulk phone
records collection to end despite USA Freedom Act failure
The next item
is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
This also is a good
summary. There is also this, further down:
Even as the Senate
remains at an impasse over the future of US domestic surveillance
powers, the National Security Agency will be legally unable to collect
US phone records in bulk by the time Congress returns from its Memorial
The administration, as
suggested in a memo it sent Congress on Wednesday, declined to ask a
secret surveillance court for another 90-day extension of the order
necessary to collect US phone metadata in bulk. The filing deadline was
Friday, hours before the Senate failed to come to terms on a bill that would
have formally repealed the NSA domestic surveillance program.
“We did not file an
application for reauthorization,” an administration official confirmed
to the Guardian on Saturday.
decision ensures that beginning at 5pm ET on 1 June, for the first time
since October 2001 the NSA will no longer collect en masse Americans’
It represents a quiet,
unceremonious end to the most domestically acrimonious NSA program
revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, in a June 2013 exposé in the Guardian –
effectively preempting a bid by GOP leader Mitch McConnell to retain
it. But McConnell and other Senate Republicans intend to continue their
fight to preserve both that program and other broad surveillance powers
under the Patriot Act.
And there is this (which
explains my own uncertainty):
McConnell will reconvene
the Senate on 31 May to attempt to settle the issue. Even if he can
pass his temporary extension, all of Section 215 will still expire,
since the House left on Thursday having overwhelmingly approved the
Freedom Act and will not return until 1 June.
With the two houses of
Congress at odds, privacy advocates prepared themselves for a
circumstance they had been unable to engineer since 2001: the wholesale
rollback of a wide swath of post-9/11 domestic surveillance.
The article ends as follows:
Until 31 May the NSA, the
FBI, privacy advocates and legislators on all sides of the issue are in
a state of uncertainty over the scope and reach of domestic US
surveillance. Advocates of the USA Freedom Act in the House warned all
week that the House would not restore the status quo ante on
surveillance, particularly since a federal appeals court on 7 May ruled
the NSA bulk phone records collection illegal.
But should McConnell
prevail in the Senate on 31 May, the coalition around the USA Freedom
Act will be put to the test as never before.
On Saturday privacy
campaigners, on the verge of a goal that seemed unrealistic weeks ago,
were cautiously optimistic.
“No matter what comes
next, tonight’s rejections of the extension of Section 215 represent a
victory for democracy over totalitarianism; for open government over
secret law; for reasonability over hysteria,” said David Segal of
Demand Progress after the vote.
“Those who helm the
government’s surveillance apparatus have engaged in craven abuse of
already overly-expansive spying powers that do nothing to reduce the
threat of terrorism, but pose ongoing threats to privacy, freedom, and
5. FBI Confirms No
Major Terrorism Cases
Cracked Via Unconstitutional Patriot Act Phone Spying
The final item
today is an article by Mike Krieger on Washington's Blog (and
originally on Liberty Blitzkrieg):
starts as follows (and is the beginning of a good longer article - and
I copy its initial illustration, because that is very correct):
Note that the very
honest Keith Alexander (former NSA chief) claimed several tens of
successes. Well... no: He lied, and there were none.
can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the
key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s
inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate
efforts to keep key parts of the law operating.
General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009,
the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215
of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses
to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up
records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism
– From the Washington
Times article: FBI
Admits No Major Cases Cracked with Patriot Act Snooping Powers
There is a lot more in the article, including copies of 5 mostly
blacked out pages of Section 215, one of the most horrible parts of the
"laws" that allowed the NSA to demand everything from anyone
in complete secret (see e.g. here: October 4, 2013 on Lavabit and
its courageous owner) and the article is good and recommended.
It ends as follows, also correctly, I think:
The battle to push
back the American Stasi is just beginning.
And you should read this
article if you want to know how much remains to be done.