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. For the First Time Since 9/11, Congress
2. Charges against Edward
Snowden stand, despite
telephone surveillance ban
Greenwald: As Bulk NSA Spying Expires, Scare
Tactics Can’t Stop "Sea
Change" on Surveillance
Thank You, Edward Snowden: An End to General
Warrants as So-Called Patriot
Chris Hedges: ‘A Look at What It Takes
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, June 2,
is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Dan Froomkin's (sensible) response to
the present situation in Congress about the American
surveillance state (<- good link to a long video); item 2 is about a non-surprising consequence for
Edward Snowden: no change; item 3 is about an
interview with Glenn Greenwald on the present sutuation in Congress; item 4 is about Juan Cole's reaction (I am bit more
subdued); and item 5 is about what seems to be a
very fine recent video of a talk by Chris Hedges, that I will return to
For the First Time
Since 9/11, Congress Checks the
item today is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
In fact, most of today's
NL will be taken up by various considerations of yesterday's result
that resulted in - as Froomkin says - the following: "the Republican-controlled Senate was simply
unable to get it together and vote to renew the surveillance powers".
Sunday night marked the
first time that Congress has limited the executive branch’s
surveillance authority since the terror attacks in 2001 set off a
dystopian explosion in the government’s ability to spy on people inside
and outside its borders.
But it was not so much a
glorious moment of constitutional rebalancing for the legislative
branch as it was parliamentary farce as usual. Faced with the
long-planned expiration at midnight of three contentious provisions of
the Patriot Act, the Republican-controlled Senate was simply unable to
get it together and vote to renew the surveillance powers.
That failure to act was
consequential. One of the three provisions had been used — improperly,
it turns out — as legal justification for a National Security Agency
program that collected phone records on millions of Americans without a
warrant or any probable cause, along with other business records.
So as of today, for the
first time in 14 years, you can make phone calls without the NSA
hoovering up the records of who you called and for how long.
My own view is that (1) what was achieved was mostly the result of the
work of Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and some others
the staff and editor of The Guardian), but (2) the NSA spying (and the
Five Eyes spying etc.) will continue nearly unabated, and illegally if
not legally (which is rather easy for the NSA, since most of
actions are shrouded in secrecy anyway).
I suppose my first conclusion will be agreed to by most (and yes, there
were more - I know, but these are the most important). My second
conclusion probably - judging by what I've read, which is around 40
websites a day for NL - will be a bit less widely agreed to, but those
in doubt I refer to yesterday's long interview with William Binney.
Indeed, here is the link once more:
I strongly recommend
even though it is over 2 1/2 hours of interview, because it is a very
good interview with a quite interesting and quite smart man who worked
in leading positions in the NSA for more than thirty years.
Back to the above linked article. Here is an explanation of Dan
Froomkin as to how the present result (that I don't think will last
long) was reached:
I doubt the present
result was "inevitable", but OK. As to the only difference that
listed, namely that phone records remain in the possession of the
telephone companies and the NSA has to make specific requests to seem
Its end was inevitable
ever since milquetoast
compromise reform legislation, called the USA Freedom Act, passed
the House in an overwhelming bipartisan vote on May 13. That bill puts
in place a replacement program that leaves phone records in the
possession of the telecom companies until the NSA comes with a specific
request. It also reauthorizes two other expiring provisions of the
Patriot Act, one of which makes it easier to track suspects who
frequently change phones; the other, which has never actually been
used, allows the government to begin surveillance on individuals
without asserting a connection to a specific terrorist group.
That is the law, but the American laws have been circumvented
and lied about by the NSA ever since 2001, and this legal
technicality will not keep them from trying to get everything
There is considerably more under the first dotted link above, which I
will leave to your interests.
Charges against Edward
Snowden stand, despite telephone surveillance ban
item today is by Dan Roberts on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
The quoted statements by Mr.
Earnest are just contemptible lies - deceptive bullshit - that
have been contradicted many
times during the last nearly two years, by everyone who knows about
spying, such as Binney, Drake, Greenwald, Poitras and Snowden himself,
and also by many lawyers.
The White House refused
to reconsider its legal pursuit of Edward Snowden on Monday, while it
sought to take credit for outlawing the bulk telephone surveillance programme
spokesman Josh Earnest rejected the argument that the imminent passage
of legislation banning the practice meant it was time to take a fresh
look at the charges against the former National Security Agency
“The fact is that Mr Snowden
committed very serious crimes, and the US government and the Department
of Justice believe that he should face them,” Earnest told the Guardian
at the daily White House press briefing.
“That’s why we believe that
Mr Snowden should return to the United States, where he will face due
process and have the opportunity to make that case in a court of law.”
Glenn Greenwald: As Bulk
NSA Spying Expires, Scare Tactics Can’t Stop "Sea Change" on
The next item is an article by
Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows
(after a brief introduction) with a quote of Rand Paul:
Let us be clear: We are here tonight because the president continues to
conduct an illegal program. We are not collecting the information of
spies. We are not collecting the information of terrorists. We are
collecting all American citizens’ records all of the time. This is what
we fought the revolution over.
Now, people say, "Well,
they’re not looking at it. They’re not
listening to it." It’s the tip of the iceberg, what we’re talking about
here. And realize that they were dishonest about the program until we
caught them. They kept saying over and over again, "We’re not doing
this. We’re not collecting your records." And they were. The head of
the intelligence agency lied to the American people, and he still works
here. We should be upset. We should be marching in the streets and
saying he’s got to go.
That is true, but it also
shows, albeit indirectly: (1) what awful liars the present U.S.
government harbours, protects, and lauds, especially if one considers
that all of the above has been done since 9/11/2001 (and indeed
planned - see Binney
- before that) and (2) that the present and past Senate and
House were not
capable (and in part: not willing) to curb the very many very
illegal activities that the three American goverments since 9/11
Amy Goodman asked Glenn Greenwald, and here is part of his reply:
GLENN GREENWALD: I
think the greatest significance of the most recent event is more
symbolic than anything else, but it’s still actually quite significant.
The fact that we’re now
having this very contentious debate, where the PATRIOT
Act actually has lapsed, at least for a few days, and that we’re going
to have some kind of change in the law that we’re calling reform
underscores how significantly public opinion has changed and the
climate of the country has changed, the views of the tech community
have changed, when it comes to how much surveillance we’re willing to
allow our government to engage in against us in the name of terrorism.
I think that’s really the greatest significance, is the sea change that
OK - that seems a fair
conclusion, though it should also be said that while "the climate of
the country has changed" including "the views of the tech community", which was mainly due to Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald,
Laura Poitras and some others, certainly initially, part of the reasons
this result is "more symbolic
than anything else" is that the
climates in the Senate and the House have changed much less.
Here is another bit by Glenn Greenwald, about the cognitive
dissonance in the Democratic Party:
And so, I think
it’s really exciting to see the breakdown of the standard partisan
divisions, and it leaves Democrats, in particular, with a lot of
cognitive dissonance, because during the Bush years they were trained
to think of the PATRIOT Act as this evil
thing that Dick Cheney did, and they were trained to think that it was
terrible if you stand up and say, "If you oppose our policies, you’re
helping the terrorists," and now you have the leader of the Democratic
Party, President Obama, and the leaders of the Democratic Party in the
Congress leading the way demanding the renewal of the PATRIOT Act and sounding exactly like Dick Cheney.
And you have a tea party Republican, Rand Paul, being the nominal
leader of the effort to undo the PATRIOT Act.
I agree this is mildly
funny, but I don't think this is "really exciting".
The reason I don't think
this is "really exciting" is
that I lost my faith in
the American Senate and the House:
If you are willing to be
the cheaters and frauds of a government you ought to control but don't,
and if you
swallow their evident lies for the most part willingly
as if they are
important truths, and you do these for nearly 15 years, in
spite of all the evidence put forward by Snowden and others, you are at
best an irrelevancy to the real government, that knowingly broke the
laws millions of times during the same years.
What has happened over the past 15 years in the U.S. is that the
government and the big corporations, and especially the banks and their
managers, have taken almost all powers in their own hands, and
have successfully denied almost all control on their very
illegal activities to anyone, including the Senate and the House.
Finally, here is Glenn Greenwald on a statement by CIA director Brennan:
GREENWALD: First of all,
it’s, I mean, truly hilarious to listen to the director of the CIA accuse other people of having ideological
causes in the policies that they support, but even more amazing is the
fact that he’s sitting there telling the American public something that
he knows to be completely false, which is that these tools have been
critical in keeping the country safe.
These programs have had no role in stopping terrorism at all. And if
anything, it’s because the government is collecting information on
everybody that it’s incapable of knowing when somebody is plotting an
attack like the one at the Boston Marathon.
I suppose that looking on
Brennan statements as "truly hilarious" is one way of keeping your
sanity, but personally I get mostly disgusted.
Thank You, Edward Snowden: An End to General Warrants as So-Called
Patriot Act Expires
The next item is an article
by Juan Cole on Truthdig, but originally on Cole's website:
This starts as follows:
The US government
behemoth dedicated to spying on us all in contravention of the
Constitution will likely be only slightly inconvenienced by the
expiration of the misnamed “PATRIOT Act”, forced by Sen. Rand Paul late
Sunday night. But at least a few baby steps back toward democracy
will be taken as a result.
The act hasn’t
primarily been used for terrorism cases but for drug busts, which
is to say, it is an enforcement mechanism for the liquor and
pharmaceutical corporations that fear organic recreational drugs.
I suppose this is a
fair summary, and the second paragraph states something I wasn't aware
of. (Click the last link if you want to know some more.)
There is also this:
The bulk collection of
information on whom millions of Americans call, how long they talk, and
where they are when they’re doing it, and the storage of that
information on government servers, will cease. Mind you, the
government never got a warrant for any of this invasion of
privacy. And a recent Federal court ruling found that anyway the
Patriot Act didn’t authorize the degree of intrusive dragnets in which
the government has been engaged. In essence, the executive claimed for
itself a general warrant to go through our papers.
The fourth amendment was crafted to make general warrants
illegal. Even British courts under the monarchy in the 18th
century pushed back against the crown’s assertion of a right to snoop
into someone’s papers with no probable cause and no specific
warrant. George W. Bush and Barack Obama claimed a power that
even King George III did not have, and Americans kicked King George III
off this continent for being too nosy and too grabby.
I agree with most of
that, but I am rather doubtful about the beginning i.e.
collection of information on whom millions of Americans call, how long
they talk, and where they are when they’re doing it, and the storage of
that information on government servers, will cease.
For while this
accords to the letter of the law, it also presumes that the secret and
secretive NSA, that has been breaking very many laws quite
consciously for 15 years now in order to get all the
information they did get on every American (1) will suddenly stick to
the letter of the law or (2) will not have the means to get the
information from the phone companies that they have been milking now
for nearly 14 years now.
VIDEO: Chris Hedges: ‘A
Look at What It Takes to Rebel’
You may believe this, but I don't. (See Binney.)
The last item today is not an
article but is a recent video of a talk by Chris Hedges:
This comes with the following
At The Sanctuary
for Independent Media in Troy, N.Y., last week, Truthdig columnist
Chris Hedges spoke for over an hour about how his new book, “Wages of Rebellion,” differs from his
I have to admit that I found
this only late yesterday evening and that, while I like the title
because I am the third (and last) generation of rebels, I have not yet
seen much of it.
Then again, I did see the first six minutes of it, in which
Chris Hedges manages to mention the following topics:
In brief: While I have
not yet seen most of this, I think that someone who can come up in the
first six minutes of his talk with the above list of topics can be
- Dwight Macdonald
: As Chris Hedges said, he was a very fine writer with an
excellent mind, and one of the main inspirators of Noam Chomsky. He is
also one of the writers I did read some fine essays by, but who has
been very hard to find anything by in Amsterdam the last thirty
years or more (for I know of him since forty years at least).
- Chris Hedges says about
Macdonald: "He was not a party person, and neither am I" - which also
is another reason, that I forgot to mention, why I left
the Communist Party when I was 20, with both my parents members
of that party for 30 or more years then. As I saw it then I see it now:
I am simply too much of an intelligent individualist to be told what I
should think and how I should act by any party - and I also
know this is true only of a small intelligent and well-read
- Here is Chris Hedges on
where we are at present: "We stand now on the cusp of a very
frightening corporate totalitarianism which has garnered for itself
tools of control that no other totalitarian state has ever amassed".
- Chris Hedges also
Robeson: I knew of him since the 1950ies, because my parents had
some records of him, and he had a very beautiful deep bass.
- This is Chris Hedges on
what he doesn't have: "I don't have a TV, I don't tweet, I don't have
Facebook page, I don't have a webpage". Almost the same holds for me: I
do have a webpage (of 500 MB), but otherwise it is the same (and I
don't vote since 1971).
- Hedges also is one who
very much likes to read, as I do, and he mentioned Edward Gibbon's
"The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", which he
didn't finish. I did, in 2004, and
liked it a great lot (it is one of
the best books or series of books I know), though I admit being
defeated by it when I was 25.
- Finally, still within
six minutes, Chris Hedges mentioned Sheldon Wolin
and the series
of interviews he did with him, that I agree are quite important and are
reviewed by me starting here, while the last series of
these 8 interviews has been reviewed here.
And I will say more about this tomorrow, also because I do have
definite opinions about "the wages of rebellion".
Also, I may open tomorrow with the reviews I did in 2014 of the eight
interviews Hedges had with Wolin, were it only because I have them; can
collect and publish them with a proper title; because I think they are
important and well done; and also because Sheldon Wolin has not had the
attention he deserves.
Mind that this is not true of the large majority, which consists of
people who are best defined as followers: They
follow someone or some party, and mostly think as these indviduals or
institutions tell them to think, and they also like that. (This
of the reasons why I tend to be pessimistic: There are too few
independent individuals who think for themselves - but I agree optimism and pessimism are
mainly character-based than fact-based).