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."
Won’t Say If It Automatically Transcribes American
Phone Calls in Bulk
TTIP Gap: How a Trans-Atlantic Trade Deal Can Still
3. NYT: Taxing Wealthy and
Cutting Pentagon Makes
Senator Sanders "Unelectable"
4. The Dutch want to
renew their spy laws
is a Nederlog of Tuesday June 9, 2015
is a crisis blog.
I found only 4 items today, and one of them is in Dutch, but then I can
review only what I can find: Item 1 is about an
article about the very many things the NSA does not wish to say by Dan
Froomkin; item 2 is about what I regard as a very
bad article in Spiegel On Line that tries to defend or save the
TTIP, without even saying the TTIP is secret; item 3
is about an article in Truth-out about a quite manipulative article in
the NYT; and item 4 is about an ill written Dutch
article that announces the Dutch want to go the way of the NSA:
Everything any Dutchman does will be known, secretly of course, by the
Dutch secret services.
On the one hand, I'm sorry there isn't much on the crisis today, but on
hand I also feel a bit relieved, simply because I have to do some other
things, for which I also need time.
Also, tomorrow's crisis news will probably be about Edward
Snowden, simply because it is then precisely two years since I learned
his name, and I want to
look back a little. (But this also will depend on what else there is,
and on how
much time I will have available.)
1. NSA Won’t Say If It Automatically
Transcribes American Phone Calls in Bulk
item is an article by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as
When it comes to the
National Security Agency’s recently
disclosed use of automated speech recognition technology to
search, index and transcribe voice communications, people in the
United States may well be asking: But are they transcribing my
The answer is maybe.
A clear-cut answer is
elusive because documents in the Snowden archive describe the
capability to turn speech into text, but not the extent of its use —
and the U.S. intelligence community refuses to answer even the most
basic questions on the topic.
Asked about the
application of speech-to-text to conversations including Americans,
Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National
Intelligence, said at a Capitol Hill event in May that the NSA has “all
sorts of technical capabilities” and that they are all used in a lawful
“I’m not specifically
acknowledging or denying the existence of any particular capability,”
he said. “I’m only saying that the focus needs to be on what are the
authorities the NSA is using, and what are the protections around the
execution of those authorities?”
To start with, here
are some answers by me - and yes, they are probabilistic, simply
because the NSA and the government hardly say anything about the enormous
amounts of spying they do on everyone.
First, if you are an
American: Is the NSA transcribing your phone calls? There are two
answers: One, strictly speaking, one cannot say, simply because the NSA
generally does not rationally answer any question. Two, since one must
therefore guess: Very probably - after 14 years of
billions of transgressions of the laws by the NSA - the answer is yes.
Third, the reason why your phone calls are stored does have nothing
to do with private "terrorism" and
indeed never did (and the vast majority of all Americans is not a
terrorist in any sense): it has everything to do with control.
The NSA wants to know everything about you, because they want to know
whether they need to control you: "knowledge is power", and they mean
to know everything about anyone, and have said so
themselves, albeit - until Snowden - only to themselves and their
government bosses. And this desire is the root of what is called state terrorism.
Second, about Robert Litt. Dan Froomkin points out, quite correctly,
that the second half of his quoted "answer" is quite useless,
because Litt never said what the authorities say or what the
protections are. He simply was misleading his audience. The same is
true of the first half: Without knowing anything about any
capability, all discussion is quite useless. Also, since the NSA hires
more mathematicians than anybody else, it is safe to presume that the
NSA does have most of the known capacities in house.
The rest of the
article is a survey of the four kinds of methods that the NSA uses or
may use to track American phone calls. It is interesting and useful,
but since in the end both the NSA and the government remain silent, and
also have classified most information, one must use
probabilities to assess one's situation.
The TTIP Gap: How a
Trans-Atlantic Trade Deal Can Still
item is an article by Spiegel Staff on the Spiegel On Line
To me, this seems a very manipulative piece of quasi-journalism,
that tries to further the TTIP as its title says.
The main reason I think so is that the word "secret" does not occur
in the entire article, whereas the main reason why many people are
against the TTIP (and the TTP and the TIAS and earlier the NAFTA) is
that these are secret treaties, that are so secret that
not even American senators may read them and take notes
they may take with them, just as they cannot discuss what they read
with other senators, while the fast track legislation seems engineered
to force these laws through Congress by denying any amendments
and giving each senator only 88 seconds to speak his mind.
(See: Rep. Alan Grayson: ‘88 seconds to Debate the
But the word "secret" does not occur in the entire article, that also
suggests, indeed without saying that clearly either, that the TTIP is known
to politicians or journalists, which also is false.
Here is the tone of the article:
Europe is about to
see changes as serious as when the European Single Market was created
more than 20 years ago.
Not a word about
the fact that the whole "Partnership" is secret, and indeed is
even supposed to remain secret the first five years it is to be
active; not a word about the fact that neither
politicians nor citizens really know what is in the TTIP; not a
word about the fact that the European laws on agriculture and
medicine are to be given up mostly for much weaker American laws -
but with a swipe at the end at any opponent, who gets compared to
people protesting against "the
deployment of medium-range missiles or the construction of new nuclear
Four letters are dividing
Germany. The planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
with the United States, or TTIP, is intended to create a uniform
economic zone for about 800 million consumers and eliminate many of the
hurdles that obstruct trade across the Atlantic today. It sounds like a
subject for association officials and standardization experts, but
judging by the controversy the plan has unleashed, it could just as
well involve the deployment of medium-range missiles or the
construction of new nuclear power plants.
In contrast, here is a sketch of the opponents of the plan:
They face a
powerful protest movement made up of environmental and social
organizations, church representatives, lawyers and local politicians,
who view the agreement as a giant fraud. The anti-TTIP network claims
that free trade is being used as a cover to "facilitate privatization,"
pave the way "for genetically modified food and meat laced with
hormones" and "erode democracy."
Not a word about the
main motive of many protesters: They do not even get to see the
proposed secret laws that they are protesting, and the whole
term "secret" does not occur in the whole article. Also, they are at
least made to look slightly ludicrous, because all their
points, quite unlike those of the TTIP proponents, are between
quotation-marks, and also made to appear slightly ludicrous: "facilitate privatization", "meat laced with hormones", "erode democracy".
So I regard this piece of "journalism" as a falsification: If you
cannot write a long article about the TTIP without saying that the
whole TTIP is secret, it seems to me you are intentionally lying
and intentionally manipulating your readers.
3. NYT: Taxing Wealthy and Cutting Pentagon
Makes Senator Sanders "Unelectable"
item is an article by Robert Naiman on Truth-out, that can be seen as
another piece of "journalistic" manipulation, this time by the New York
This starts as follows:
Yes, indeed. I have a bit more
below on what the NYT did attribute to Sanders, and Naiman has rather a
lot more, but first we need to straighten out a detail:
On Sunday, in the course
of an article about Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie
Sanders attracting huge crowds in Iowa, the New York Times (NYT) told us that:
"[S]ome of Mr.
Sanders's policy prescriptions - including far higher taxes on the
wealthy and deep military spending cuts - may eventually persuade
Democrats that he is unelectable in a general election."
This is a striking
example of how big media like the New York Times can try to enforce
their own limits on debate by asserting without evidence that certain
ideas and therefore the people who espouse them - or are purported to
espouse them, more on this below - are not mainstream.
Of course, it's
the democratic right of the New York Times - on its editorial page!
- to oppose tax increases on the wealthy and cuts in Pentagon spending.
(...) But this was a news article. A news article isn't
supposed to make tendentious assertions about political candidates
without providing evidence.
Precisely. Now about
what the NYT did attribute to Sanders.
First, the content is quite vague, but - as Naimark points out - in
fact 61 or 62 percent of all Americans are in favor of raising
taxes on the rich, while the greatest plurality of Americans -
37 per cent - also thought American spending on national defense
and military purposes is "too much".
So in fact on both points that the New York Times sought to
criticize Sanders, he in fact said what the majority or the
greatest part of Americans agree with.
And besides: There is no evidence that Sanders proposed "deep
cuts" to military spending. (This is extensively argued in Naimark's
Finally, the whole suggestive but - I think - false statement is,
intentionally, without a doubt, made technically unfalsifiable by
saying "may" instead of "will" (for what "may" be the case also "may
not" be the case).
In any case, this is an interesting article that in fact articulates
why I seldom visit
or quote the New York Times these days: It is too manipulative and
The Dutch want to
renew their spy laws
item is an article by Ton Siedsma on the Dutch site Bits Of Freedom:
This is in - quite bad -
Dutch, but I will translate the main paragraph:
And that is about it:
The Dutch government also wants to know absolutely everything
about absolutely everyone (who is Dutch or in Holland). And
It will be proposed that the
authorities of the secret services are extended. The main part will be the introduction of a
massive tapping of communications. Therewith the secret services would
be able to tap all our communications - telephone conversations with
your parents, the e-mails on
your job, all sites that you visit because of your beliefs, sexual
orientation or some disease you have. They will be able to follow almost everything you do, wherever you are and
whoever you are with. These would be the most fargoing authority that
the Dutch secret services ever had. A bizarre attack on our
all Dutchmen, except the supermen in the secret
services and the government,
will be regarded as terrorists forever, who are unfit to have any
privacy of any kind, and may also soon be arrested in secret,
judged in secret, and put to work or "be disappeared" in secret, if I
understand my Dutch governors well.
As I have said several times before: I am very glad I was born in 1950
and not later, and also am now very glad that 37 years of illness
deprived me of children.
In case you are younger than me and have children: The best advice I
can give is to leave Holland as fast as you can, and go to Norway,
Sweden or Finland.
You may disagree, and indeed there also is another reason: I check out
around 40 items every day for the crisis series, and while there are
certainly things I will miss, I think I am fairly well served (for the
crisis series) by the combination of Common Dreams, Mother Jones,
Truthdig and The Guardian, which also are the sources of most of the
articles I reviewed. (This is a plain factual
statement: Thus it has worked out in fact.)