June 7, 2015
Crisis: Surveillance *2, Fast Track & TISA, Secretly Expanding Spying, Arrears
  "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


Surveillance laws are being rewritten post-Snowden, but
     what will really change?

Surveillance reform explainer: can the FBI still listen to
     my phone calls?

3. Gaius Publius: Fast Track Will Also Apply to TISA
4. New Snowden Documents Reveal Secret Memos
     Expanding Spying
5. On reducing the arrears

This is a Nederlog of Sunday June 7, 2015

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article on The Guardian that correctly notes that little will change in fact about the surveillance (and nothing for non-Americans); item 2 is about another article on The Guardian that tries to spell this out, but that I found unclear and chatty; item 3 is a quite important article about fast track and the TISA: fascism is approaching fast (in my learned opinion); item 4 shows that there are more secret legal memos that extended rather than limited spying; while item 5 is not about the crisis but about the arrears I am trying to cope with since 2012.
There were two other Nederlog files today: All the interviews Chris Hedges did with Sheldon Wolin in 2014, plus my extended commentaries that are mostly new.

Also, here is a repeat from yesterday, in the form of a remark on my summaries:

I know that since circa June 11, 2013 the titles of my Nederlogs are pretty unclear, basically because most days I reviewed at least five articles (which I did not do before), and I can only use the titles of the articles if I publish each separately, which is simply too much trouble.

However, I did all of this year start my Nederlogs with a summary, while I have collected all of these summaries in English News (aka: summaries). This will help you to find out what the Nederlogs are about.
1. Surveillance laws are being rewritten post-Snowden, but what will really change?

The first item is an article by John Naughton on The Guardian:

This has a subtitle that sums up the content quite well:
The ripples from the revelations of NSA surveillance can be felt around the world – but intelligence and law-enforcement agencies will carry on regardless
This starts as follows:
For anyone still in doubt about the impact of Edward Snowden’s revelations, it might be instructive to review what has been going on in the US Congress over the last few months, with legislators grappling with bills aimed at curbing the surveillance capabilities of the NSA and other federal agencies. In the end, in a classic congressional farce, there was a brief intermission in the NSA’s data-gathering capabilities, after which the Senate passed a bill to end the agency’s bulk collection of the phone records of millions of Americans.

At one level it’s a significant moment: one in which – as a Guardian leader writer put it – “an outlaw rewrites the law”. And in a few other countries, notably Germany, Snowden’s revelations do seem to be having a demonstrable impact – as witnessed, for example, by the Bundestag’s inquiry into NSA surveillance within the Federal Republic.

These are non-trivial outcomes, but we shouldn’t get carried away. The revelations have had close to zero effect on the way the British security agencies – and their political masters – go about things. And now that the Tories are liberated from the tiresome obsession of the Lib Dems with privacy and human rights, who knows what Theresa May and the spooks are cooking up?
Yes, indeed. Here is more of the sum-up:

On the other side of the Atlantic, although the USA Freedom Act does introduce a number of reforms, the surveillance landscape remains largely unchanged. Americans’ phone records will still be hoovered up – but now by the telephone companies, not the NSA – and access to them will require a warranting process. And elements of transparency around government surveillance and the operations of the secret Fisa court will be introduced.

So while there is some good news for American citizens in the new legislation, the position for the rest of the world is that nothing changes. The US retains the right to snoop on us in any way it pleases – and of course to spy on any US citizen who has the misfortune to exchange a phone call or an email message with us.
Quite so, and this also was the reason that my own judgement of the effective
replacement of the "Patriot Act" by the "Freedom Act" (both wildly false and propagandistic names) was and is that it is too little, too late.

There is more in the article [1], but the above sum-up is adequate.

2. Surveillance reform explainer: can the FBI still listen to my phone calls?

The next item is an article by Sam Thielman on The Guardian:

This also has a subtitle:
Lone wolves, roving wiretaps, business records – all these technical terms cloud the real question on everyone’s minds: is the phone chatter of ordinary Americans now immune from government surveillance?
The short answer to that is: No, not at all.

And while this article tries to clarify what is and isn't done by the "Freedom Act", I did not find it very clear, while it is written in a very chatty, would be popular style. I select just one bit:
National Security Letters are sticking around, though they can’t be used to collect phone records in bulk anymore. But the Freedom Act specifically states that you won’t be able to tell anybody you received a National Security Letter. If this provision sounds to you like it does not belong in something called the Freedom Act, you have a point.
Which means that a much better name for the "Freedom Act" is the Slavery Act: It is complete authoritarian non-democratic nonsense to forbid people to say that they have received a "National Security" letter.
3. Gaius Publius: Fast Track Will Also Apply to TISA

The next item is an article by Gaius Publius on Naked Capitalism:

This starts as follows (and is the beginning of an important article):

Fast Track is not just a path to TPP … it’s evil all on its own. There’s now another leaked “trade” deal, called TISA, and Fast Track will “fast-track” that one too. Want your municipal water service privatized? How about your government postal service? Read on.

Most of the coverage of the Fast Track bill (formally called “Trade Promotion Authority” or TPA) moving through Congress is about how it will “grease the skids” for passage of TPP, the “next NAFTA” trade deal with 11 other Pacific rim countries. But as we pointed out here, TPA will grease the skids for anything the President sends to Congress as a “trade” bill — anything.

One of the “trade” deals being negotiated now, which only the wonks have heard about, is called TISA, or Trade In Services Agreement. Fast Track legislation, if approved, will grease the TISA skids as well.

Why do you care? Because (a) TISA is also being negotiated in secret, like TPP; (b) TISA chapters have been recently leaked by Wikileaks; and (c) what’s revealed in those chapters should have Congress shutting the door on Fast Track faster and tighter than you’d shut the door on an invading army of rats headed for your apartment.

Congress won’t shut that door on its own — the rats in this metaphor have bought most of its members — but it should.

There is also this, as a brief explanation:

First, from the Wikileaks press release (my emphasis):

WikiLeaks releases today 17 secret documents from the ongoing TISA (Trade In Services Agreement) negotiations which cover the United States, the European Union and 23 other countries including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan & Israel — which together comprise two-thirds of global GDP. “Services” now account for nearly 80 per cent of the US and EU economies and even in developing countries like Pakistan account for 53 per cent of the economy. While the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become well known in recent months in the United States, the TISA is the larger component of the strategic TPP-TISA-TTIP ‘T-treaty trinity’. All parts of the trinity notably exclude the ‘BRICS’ countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The release coincides with TISA meetings at the ministerial level at the OECD in Paris today (3–5 June). The ‘T-treaty trinity’ of TPP-TISA-TTIP is also under consideration for collective ‘Fast-Track’ authority in Congress this month.

Note the breadth of the nations involved (highlighted above), the scale of economic activity covered — in the case of the U.S and E.U., 80% of economic activity — and the fact that TISA, like TPP, will be fast-tracked if Fast Track passes.

Click here to download or read the documents themselves.

From a lot more, I quote only this additional bit:

Neo-liberal economist Jeffrey Sachs, quoted by ex-federal regulator Bill Black here, agrees, calling these same people and their moral environment “bluntly … pathological”:

I meet a lot of these people on Wall Street on a regular basis right now. I’m going to put it very bluntly. I regard the moral environment as pathological. And I’m talking about the human interactions that I have. I’ve not seen anything like this, not felt it so palpably. These people are out to make billions of dollars and nothing should stop them from that. They have no responsibility to pay taxes. They have no responsibility to their clients. They have no responsibility to people, counterparties in transactions. They are tough, greedy, aggressive, and feel absolutely out of control, you know, in a quite literal sense. And they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent, and they have a docile president, a docile White House, and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can’t find its voice. It’s terrified of these companies.

That’s his contribution to exaggerated prose.

I do not think the prose is exaggerated, and it is by a neoliberal (better: neo-

In fact, for me the whole process is neo-fascist: You serve the very rich corporations; you do it in secret; you undermine all democratic government; and you only serve yourself and the very rich, while trying to make the big corporations dominate your own government.

As I wrote on February 19, 2015: So, if you define fascism as the American Heritage Dictionary does:

fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
then the following is quite reasonable:

A system that seeks to break nations and national democracies by secret plans that are made and seen only by corporate lawyers and corporate lobbyists, and that may not be copied or even reported on (!!) by the elected representatives of the people
, and that opposes any national legislation that opposes corporate profits, and that wants to institute special courts where corporate lawyers can decide, without appeal, to convict nations that adopt laws that protect their citizens, to huge punishments, or even from adopting laws that might diminish the profits of the multinational corporations, and again convict the peoples of these nations to huge punishments, is a deeply fascistic plan, that also only could arise because the "state and business leadership" have merged in the United States since 9/11/01 at the latest.

If you want the TTIP it means that either you are a fascist, or a corporate lawyer, or a corporate lobbyist, or a politician (left, right, or center) who gets paid by lobbyists - or a completely blind propagandized idiot.

Also, the whole plan to impose this sick and degenerate plan in secret, and the complete denial of the rights of parliamentarians to be informed and to publicly discuss what effects their electorate is deeply fascistic and very dishonest and manipulative.

In any real democracy there is no room for any secret plan that overturns the rights of nations and the rights of parliaments.

And this was before I knew anything about the secret TISA...

Anyway, whether you agree or not, this is an important article that I recommend you read all of.

4. New Snowden Documents Reveal Secret Memos Expanding Spying

The next item is an article by Julia Angwin and others on Truth-out:

This starts as follows:

Without public notice or debate, the Obama administration has expanded the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of Americans' international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents.

In mid-2012, Justice Department lawyers wrote two secret memos permitting the spy agency to begin hunting on Internet cables, without a warrant and on American soil, for data linked to computer intrusions originating abroad - including traffic that flows to suspicious Internet addresses or contains malware, the documents show.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.

5. On reducing the arrears

This is merely to say I did upload three files the last two days - the autobiography file and the two that start with "On The Crisis" together around 210 Kb - that may be quite fairly said to be in arrears.

That is, it would have been better if I had finished and uploaded them earlier, but I didn't. The reason I didn't do this earlier is mainly that I am doing a lot for the site as is, and that especially the autobiography files for 1984 and 1985 are also rather a lot of work.

And there are some other arrears, but I should say here and now that (i) the site looks more or less OK as is, while also (ii) the arrears I mentioned before June 2012 have either been worked away or been left alone, since my position changed rather a lot in the summer of 2012, especially as regards my eyes (which I should also say have slowly returned to function again, though I still have to drip them - and this took three years, so far).

What I will probably do in this month are these two things:
  • I will upload the text and my notes to Book I of Hume's "Treatise", for these have been done in a first version (though as yet not with my summaries of my own notes, although the notes are all done), and also
  • I willl re-upload the whole site to the two places these are maintained,
    to try to keep it all updated.
I will say when this has been done in Nederlog.

[1] There also is a blooper:
"All of which brings to mind a term much beloved of old-style Marxists, but now increasingly useful in understanding what is happening in a digital world. The term is “hegemony” – defined as “the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group”."
No. I come from an "old-style Marxist" family (Marxists for 40 years) and "hegemony" is definitely not one of their terms. It was introduced by the postmodernists and the feminists in the 1980s.

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