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. Greek MPs back new
austerity plan as nation faces day of
torture doctors could face charges after report alleges
3. Human rights groups call
for inquiry into why GCHQ spied
Not Just the NSA—the IRS Is Reading Your Emails Too
5. The World At War
is a Nederlog of Saturday July 11, 2015.
This is a
crisis blog. There are 5 items: Item 1 is about
Greece (but the decision seems to fall tomorrow); item 2
is about the eager and very well-paid torture doctors who also are
American psychologists and their American professional association,
that now is in trouble; item 3 is about Amnesty
International's calling for an inquiry after it turned out that the
GCHQ does spy on them; item 4 is about a proposed
change in American law that seeks to end the warrantless
surveilance of all emails; and item 5 is not a
crisis item but is my short report
on The World At War, which is a long series - 23-24 hours in all -
about WW II.
This is considerably shorter than yesterday, but this does represent what I found today: Not much.
MPs back new austerity plan as nation faces day of
The first article today is by Ian Traynor on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
I say. For one thing, I
do not think the agreement that Tsipras is now aiming for is "economically viable and socially fair", since it seems to me socially
unfair, and to favor the - foreign - banks rather than the Greek people.
Greece is facing its day of judgment as
eurozone countries decide whether to open negotiations on a third
multi-billion euro bailout for the insolvent country in five years – or
whether it is to be cut loose and plunged into financial collapse.
A weekend of what is
billed as “last-chance” summitry is to decide Greece’s fate after the
government of Alexis Tsipras caved in to creditors’ demands
for further austerity measures in return for the promise of limited
debt relief. With the support of France, he tabled 13 pages of economic
and tax reform pledges as the basis for talks on a new bailout worth
more than €53bn (£38bn) over three years.
In the early hours of
Saturday morning the Greek parliament voted to back Tsipras’s
proposals. Despite a rebellion by some of his own MPs, Tsipras was
given the backing of 250 out of 300 MPs to negotiate this weekend.
Tsipras said the vote
gave him a “strong mandate to complete the negotiations to reach an
economically viable and socially fair agreement”.
Then again, I have seen most possible positions the last months,
including strong advice by some major - American - economists to exit
the European Union.
There is considerably more in the article, and we will probably know
tomorrow whether the Greeks fixed a deal, or whether the European Union
wants the leftist
Tsiprias government first out before they try to make a deal.
US torture doctors could face charges
after report alleges post-9/11 'collusion'
The next article today is by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
From my own point of view (a
Dutch psychologist's, in terms of degrees) this is high time:
You cannot protect a number of obvious torturers, who also
earned tens of
millions of dollars for torturing, on the ground that they are
The largest association
of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the
Guardian has learned, after an independent review revealed that medical
professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in
post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, has
already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential
for loss of licenses and even prosecutions.
For more than a decade,
the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a
strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in
the torture of detainees while simultaneously permitting involvement in
military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media
reporting on psychologists’ complicity in torture; suppressed internal
dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and
portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse.
Now, a voluminous
independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David
Hoffman, undermines the APA’s denials in full – and vindicates the
Sources with knowledge of
the report and its consequences, who requested anonymity to discuss the
findings before public release, expected a wave of firings and
resignations across the leadership of an organization that Hoffman
finds used its extensive institutional links to the CIA and US military to facilitate abusive
But the APA (which is not the same as the American Psychiatric
Association, which has some 100,000 members less, but also goes by
"APA") did protect the
guilty, and now seem to be in trouble, and rightly so, from my point of
There is also this:
I don't believe that "the
psychologists" "enabled" the "American
military or intelligence interrogators" or "the senior
officials", for clearly the
American military etc. wanted (in part) to torture Muslim
prisoners, although they
Evidence in the Hoffman
report, sources believe, may merit referral to the FBI over potential
criminal wrongdoing by the APA involvement in torture. The findings
could reopen something human rights groups have urged for years: the
potential for prosecutions of people involved in torture. The
definition of “collusion” adopted by Hoffman is said to be similar to
language used in the federal racketeering statute known as Rico.
If so, however, it would
not be American military or intelligence interrogators themselves under
investigation, nor the senior officials who devised torture policy in
the Bush administration, but the psychologists who enabled them.
strongly preferred to call it "enhanced interrogation
techniques" (which they
liked to abbreviate again as "EIT").
And in any case, one has to start somewhere, and if they first
with psychologists (which is easier than the military) I don't mind.
There is also this:
Indeed - and the 2002
decision was very wrong, for it amounted to the theses that the
is right when there is a conflict between what the government wants and
what the APA had lied down in its ethics code, which effectively means
that American psychologists ceased having their own
In 2002 – the critical
year for the Bush administration’s embrace of torture – the APA amended
its longstanding ethics rules to permit psychologists to follow a
“governing legal authority” in the event of a conflict between an order
and the APA ethics code.
Without the change, Risen
wrote in his 2014 book Pay Any Price, it was likely that psychologists
would have “taken the view that they were prevented by their own
professional standards from involvement” in interrogations, making it
“far more difficult for the Justice Department to craft opinions that
provided the legal approvals needed for the CIA to go ahead with the
for this was now, since 2002, subject to the government much rather
the psychologists' professional organization or indeed to the
individual consciences of psychologists.
There is considerably more in the article, which is good.
3. Human rights groups call for inquiry into
why GCHQ spied on Amnesty
The next article today is
by Owen Bowcott on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
human rights organisations have called on the prime minister to launch
an inquiry into why the intelligence services spied illegally on Amnesty International.
In fact, it seems this only
became public knowledge because the GCHQ had made a mistake, but I
would assume that the GCHQ surveils everything Amnesty International
does, and has been doing so for a long time now.
The revelation that GCHQ has been monitoring its communications came
in a revised judgment this month from the Investigatory Powers
Tribunal, the body responsible for handling complaints about state
There is also this:
Yes, indeed. And there is
In a letter published in the Guardian, Kate Allen,
Amnesty’s UK director, Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, and
Gus Hosein, the executive director of Privacy International, ask David
Cameron to intervene.
“Ever since whistleblower
Edward Snowden revealed the existence and scale of the US and UK mass surveillance programmes two years ago,
campaign groups across the world have been worried that we ourselves
might be being spied on,” the letter says.
“We now know definitively
that Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre in South
Africa were. That is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.”
Allen, Amnesty UK’s
director, said: “It’s absolutely shocking that Amnesty International’s
private correspondence was deemed fair game for UK spooks, who have
clearly lost all sense of what is proportionate or appropriate.
“A key measure of a free
society is how it treats its charities and NGOs. Snooping on charities
is a practice straight out of the KGB handbook. If Amnesty
International is being spied on, then is anyone safe?”
My answer to the last
question: Clearly, the only ones who are "safe" in Great
Britain are the members
of the British government and from the GCHQ - and these also
probably surveilled, but they will not have to fear being
challenged by an English court for what some snoop found in their
There is considerably
more in the article.
4. It’s Not Just the NSA—the IRS Is Reading
Your Emails Too
The next article
today is by Thor Benson on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Because of the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)—passed in 1986, long before
electronic communications became prevalent in the United States—email
content is easily accessible to many civil and law enforcement agencies
as soon as it is at least 180 days old.
on both sides of the aisle are now backing the movement to change the
The Email Privacy Act,
which is up for a vote in the House of Representatives, would remove
the expiration date on privacy.
“The federal government
is using an arcane 1986 law to conduct warrantless searches of the
personal email accounts and other digital communication of the American
people,” Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., co-sponsor of the legislation, said
in February. “The last time Congress updated our email privacy laws, we
were two years removed from the release of the first Macintosh
computer. It’s time Congress modernized these outdated statutes to
ensure that the rights protected by the Fourth Amendment extend to
Americans’ email correspondence and digital storage.”
I would argue myself
that "the rights protected
by the Fourth Amendment" do
"extend to Americans’
email correspondence and digital storage”, and very clearly so.
Also, while it may be
possible that the "arcane 1986 law" was instituted at a time there was
(of a kind), it also was instituted when very few had a
There is also this:
Again, I'd first say that
emails and phone calls are "protected by a warrant"
“There’s a simple reason
why the Email Privacy Act is the most sponsored bill in Congress,” Gabe
Rottman of the American Civil Liberties Union told Truthdig. “Americans
overwhelmingly believe email should be protected by a warrant, just
like a phone call or snail-mail letter.”
According to Rottman, who
is a legislative counsel and policy adviser at the ACLU’s Washington
Legislative Office, “this bill would make that modest but essential
change, and bring our email privacy laws into the age of broadband and
Without such a change in the
ECPA, however, agencies like the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission, the IRS and others can simply obtain data stored in the
cloud by sending a company like Google a subpoena demanding access to
that data when it is 180 days old or older. Users might not even
realize their privacy had been breached, because the government can
deal directly with the email service providers.
and indeed by the Fourth Amendment, and that if the government denies
it simply lies.
Then again, the American government does a lot of lying, and I also do
not expect that the present bill, if it turns into law, will "bring our email privacy
laws into the age of broadband and cloud computing”, and that simply
(i) neither has the - very clear - Fourth Amendment, and because (ii)
very probably will find a way around it, e.g. by insisting on their own
of the law (where they may read "black" as "white", and pretend that is
And I am for the Email Privacy Act, but I do not expect
that this bill, if
it were accepted, will stop the NSA getting everything they want to get.
The World At War
The last item of today is not
a crisis item and not an
article, but is a 26 part series called
The above is a link to part 1 of the series.
I wrote about it before (on July 5)
and I now have seen the whole series, which took between 23 and
24 hours, and that is without breaks to check things out on the
Wikipedia, which were fairly frequent in my case.
I have explained why I am interested in it, which is in part because my
parents and grandparents were heavily involved in it, on the
side of the resistance, and more than the vast majority
of Dutchmen, and in part because I like
to know history,
and having seen it all, I can say now that this is the best of four
long series about WW II that I partially or wholly saw, and that the
main reason seems to be that it was considerably less officalese
than the other series.
This doesn't mean I liked everything.
First, the parts each have their own writers and producers (although
some parts had the same writers, and the whole series was overseen by
Jeremy Isaacs), and some are notably weaker than others.
Second, I liked part 18, that is about Holland during WW II, the least
- and I do not think that is just because I am Dutch
and know more about Holland than other countries: You don't want a
professor who wasn't in Holland during the war, plus two
Nazi-collaborators, apparenty invited by that professor, as the main
interviewees, but that is what one got, in this part.
But in general terms, this was an interesting series, that also mostly
kept me interested, though I know the story fairly well from the books
I've read. And this
also is different from the other series I saw.
So in case you want to know more about World War II, viewing this
may help, although I should add that it will help a lot if one first
has read some books that outline the same history, for I still
think that the best way to get to know history is through books