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."
the Spyware Campaign Against Argentine
2. Who Was the CIA Official
Who Found Torture Revolting?
3. Adultery website Ashley
Madison faces $578m class
action over data breach
will despoil the Arctic. But Barack Obama is the real
5. Study of Holocaust
survivors finds trauma passed on to
drops more than 500 points as US markets plummet
amid global sell-off
This is a Nederlog of Saturday
August 22, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1
is about an article that explains how spyware is used in South America;
item 2 is about
what is known (some) and is not known (a lot) about the American partially
released torture report; item 3 is a bit more about
the Ashley Madison hack;
item 4 is about Shell and Obama (but I
didn't like the article much); item 5 is about
holocaust survivors (with a bit by me because my father survived 4
German concentration camps as a political prisoner, and I know rather a
lot about the subject); and item 6 is about the crisis:
there are now considerable disturbances and falls worldwide, since
China devalued its yuan (three times in three days).
the Spyware Campaign Against Argentine Troublemakers
article of today
is by Morgan Marquis-Boire on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Here is some more:
Alberto Nisman, the
Argentine prosecutor known for doggedly investigating a 1994
Buenos Aires bombing, was targeted by invasive spy software downloaded
onto his cellular phone shortly before his mysterious death. The
software masqueraded as a confidential document and was intended to
infect a Windows computer.
An investigation by The
Intercept indicates that this targeting was likely not an
isolated event. The person or persons behind the attempted
monitoring appear to have run other surveillance operations
involving various locations throughout South America, at least one
apparently targeting a rabble-rousing Argentine journalist. In the
process, they created at least four distinct spyware bundles,
all communicating with the same server set to receive Nisman’s data.
They also left traces showing that their operations were active as
recently as March, raising the possibility that the online spying
There is considerably
more in the article, which also contains rather a lot more information
about computer spying in Latin America. I think it is interesting, but
there is little to summarize and I leave the rest to your
Nisman (..) made powerful
enemies inside and
outside of Argentina. In his decade-long investigation into the suicide
bombing of a Jewish organization and community center, Asociación
Mutual Israelita Argentina, he indicted a top Hezbollah operative and
several Iranian officials, including a former president, former
intelligence minister, and a former foreign minister. Four days before
his death, he accused the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de
Kirchner, and her foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, of being involved
in a criminal conspiracy to let Iranian officials off the hook for the
attack. He was called to testify before Congress.
But the night before he was
slated to deliver that testimony, Nisman
was found in his apartment dead from a bullet wound to the head. An
autopsy ruled his death a suicide. But as details of the police
investigation emerged, so did more and more questions into the manner
of his demise. There was no suicide note, nor was any gunpowder
residue found on Nisman’s hands.
2. Who Was the CIA Official Who Found
The next article is by Jenna
McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
In early December 2014,
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., released
a summary of her staff’s five-year investigation of the CIA’s
interrogation programs following 9/11.
Best known as the
“Torture Report,” the document revealed searing details of ghastly
abuses ranging from “rectal feedings” to “near drowning” on the
But, for the American
Civil Liberties Union, the report also raised a whole new set of
“For all its revelatory,
gruesome details, [the report] also revealed more about what we don’t
know,” Eliza Relman, an ACLU legal assistant wrote
in a blog post.
The ACLU has obtained
over 100,000 pages of torture-related documents through FOIA requests
and legal action over the last 10 years. But the Senate report helped
identify some specific gaps.
This is an interesting
article, although it is - inevitably, seeing that the U.S. government
tries to keep secret as much as they can - full of questions,
sometimes with partial answers.
Here is a quite interesting
Q. What else was
in an email sent by the CIA’s chief of interrogations telling the CIA
he would have nothing to do with the detainee interrogation program?
And who was he?
The Senate report hints
at some dissension in the ranks when it came to the extreme
interrogation tactics, but does not go into much detail about who was
concerned, how widespread the concern was, or how the concern was
In a 2004 email, the
then-CIA chief of interrogations expressed disgust with the program,
writing that he would “no longer be associated in any way with the
interrogation program due to serious reservations,” calling it a “train
wreack [sic] waiting to happen” and stating that he wanted to “get the
hell off the train.”
I say. Then again,
there presently are quite a number of former government employees, some
with decades of service in high positions, who gave up on
- at least - parts of the government, and who write against it.
One such individual is Ray McGovern
(<- Wikipedia), who co-founded in 2003 the
Intelligence Professionals for Sanity ("VIPS") and who seems a
quite sensible, smart and courageous man.
Also - as far as I know - both Ray McGovern and the VIPS publish a good
part of their usually quite interesting articles on Consortiumnews
(<- Wikipedia), which you can find here.
And yes, here I was relaying information that I found since
2013, and Consortium- news is a quite interesting site.
Jenna McLaughlin's article
also is quite interesting, and she treats some other questions, which I
copy here, but without her text, which I leave to your
Q. What concerns
did the CIA’s Office of Medical Services raise about its role in the
Q. What is in the
still-hidden sections of the CIA’s 2004 Inspector General report?
Q. What were the
techniques the CIA used to get around restrictions on waterboarding?
For more, click the
last dotted link.
website Ashley Madison faces $578m class action over data breach
The next article is
by Associated Press (in Toronto) on The Guardian:
As it happens, I wrote yesterday about Ashley Madison, and that
is the main reason the present article is here. That starts as follows:
Two Canadian law firms
have filed a $578m class-action lawsuit against the companies that run Ashley Madison after a hacker group’s data
breach exposed some 39 million memberships in the adultery website
earlier this week.
Charney Lawyers and
Sutts, Strosberg, both of Ontario, said Friday that they filed the
lawsuit on behalf of Canadians who subscribed to Ashley Madison and
whose personal information was disclosed to the public. The website,
with its slogan “Life is short. Have an affair,” is marketed to
facilitate extramarital relationships.
The lawsuit, filed on
Thursday in the Ontario superior court of justice, targets Avid Dating Life and Avid Life Media, the
Toronto-based companies that run AshleyMadison.com. Its class-action
status “still needs to be certified by the court”, the statement says.
Ashley Madison did not
immediately respond to requests for comment. It has said that the
personal details exposed in the initial data leak can’t be used to
prove the infidelity of their clients.
I say. There
probably will be a lot more legal action, that very well may
take years to come to judgment. I will not be following that,
but this is the start.
reply by Ashley Madison in the last quoted paragraph is baloney for at
least two reasons: (i) it may not be a proof, but it certainly is
circum- stantial evidence of some kind, and (ii) the point of the legal
complaint is not about affairs or infidelities, but about (a) failing
to protect the users' privacy, and especially (b) for asking
and receiving money from users to have their data removed, which then
was not removed.
Also I may have to return to Ashley Madison, for the following
There are hundreds
of email addresses in the data release that appear to be connected to
federal, provincial and municipal workers across Canada, as well as to
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the military
But this is as may be,
and I will not write about ordinary men and women who
The credit-card information
of US government workers, some with sensitive jobs in the White House,
Congress and the justice department, was also revealed in the data
used this site to have an affair.
will despoil the Arctic. But Barack Obama is the real villain here
The next item is by
John Vidal on The Guardian:
This is from not far
from the beginning:
This week the
Obama administration granted the world’s second largest oil company final approval to restart its search for Arctic oil,
and its platforms will soon begin to drill 2,400 metres deep. The
exploration season is short and the dangers great, but after 10 years
of trying and $7bn spent hoping to unlock the region’s resources, Shell
clearly still believes it can find and exploit a giant new oil field to
secure its future for decades.
And there is this:
Here, say his
friends – including Hillary Clinton – is Obama caving in to Big Oil,
giving a licence to continue business as usual. Here is the US –
claiming to be the leader in the fight to reduce emissions – backing
the riskiest, least-needed oil in the world while saying that the
future is clean energy.
There is a considerably larger
amount of text, but I didn't like it very much, because it is mainly
accusation with little or no evidence.
Clinton nailed Obama this
week: “The Arctic is a unique treasure. Given what we
know, it’s not worth the risk of drilling,” she wrote. Others put it more strongly: “It’s perplexing
and depressing to hear President Obama say he wants to fix climate
change but then approve Arctic drilling. It’s like a doctor diagnosing
a patient but then refusing to write a prescription,” said Rebecca
Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
To be sure, I agree Obama made the decision and the decision
was a mistake, but (i) there is a whole paragraph that starts with
"Don't blame Shell" because it "is still based on the old 19th-century
explore-exploit-risk-reward capitalist business model that owes nothing
to anything beyond the company", which is plain nonsense were
it only because we are living in the 21st century, while (ii)
there is no information at all about the ties Obama's
government has with the oil companies.
That last item is relevant, if only because everyone in Bush
Jr.'s government - Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and quite a few others - had
extremely close ties with various big oil companies (which itself is
part of an explanation why Iraq was attacked by the US under
Bush Jr). (Incidentally, this is information from Gore Vidal.)
I thought Obama and his government got most of its money and support
from the managers of the big banks (quite a few of whom had
governmental jobs under Obama), but then he may also have been
getting lots of money from the oil companies, as did Bush Jr.'s
I don't know, and this article did little to inform me.
Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children's genes
The next item is by
Helen Thomson on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
though I also remain skeptical. And
I will explain myself, and start with saying why this might be of some
concern to me:
Genetic changes stemming
from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors are capable of being
passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s
life experience can affect subsequent generations.
The conclusion from a research team at New York’s Mount Sinai
hospital led by Rachel
Yehuda stems from the genetic study of 32 Jewish men and women who had
either been interned in a Nazi concentration camp, witnessed or
experienced torture or who had had to hide during the second world war.
They also analysed the
genes of their children, who are known to have increased likelihood of
stress disorders, and compared the results with Jewish families who
were living outside of Europe during the war. “The gene changes in the
children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parentsone,” said Yehuda.
Both of my parents were in WW II in the communist resistance against
the Nazis, and both my father and his father were arrested in July of
1941, handed over to the SS, and were convicted as "political
terrorists" to the concentration camp, which my grandfather did not
survive, while my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 14 days of
them, probably because he was a communist, even though he also at one
point weighed 37.5 kgs, which was less than half of his normal weight
(and he never was obese).
There is some more on my parents yesterday.
Now why I am rather skeptical (also as a psychologist, with
excellent methodological skills):
In part, the weakness of the research that was reported in the article
is that most of the mechanisms it presupposes are supposed
rather than proven. There is a whole lot of information
about genes and chemical tags that right now is not known, as
it is also not known how genes or chemical tags are related to
actual behavior, thoughts, values and choices.
Indeed, as the article says:
The idea is
controversial, as scientific convention states that genes contained in
DNA are the only way to transmit biological information between
generations. However, our genes are modified by the environment all the
time, through chemical tags that attach themselves to our DNA,
switching genes on and off. Recent studies suggest that some of these
tags might somehow be passed through generations, meaning our
environment could have and impact on our children’s health.
Note the many
qualifications ("might", "could have").
Second, quite a few of the psychological effects of surviving a
concentration camp as a prisoner, including the possibility that their
children also may have been - somehow - effected, dates back to the
1950ies, though in the 1950ies this was not taken very
seriously, and indeed the presumed mechanisms were psycho- logical
rather than biological.
Third, when this was taken more serious, from the early 1960ies
onwards, in large part because by then more and more former
concentration camp prisoners did have to cope with PTSD (as it is now
known: a term that goes back to the late 70ies), in Holland - not
elsewhere - the research and the treatment of former concentration camp
prisoners was almost exclusively in the hands of the late psychiatrist
Bastiaans, who certainly was an incompetent (in the end his medical
career was stopped, but this was in the 90ies) and probably a sadist,
for his "cure" consisted in giving former concentration camp prisoners
LSD and other strong drugs, and force them to move through violent
concentration camp scenes, with the - false - promise that this would
cure them. 
Indeed, my father - who did have problems with PTSD since around 1960,
and who dreamt every night he was in the camp - was treated briefly in
1971 by Bastiaans, when my father sent for me to ask whether I thought
he should take LSD, which I strongly opposed, based on considerable
knowledge, and which he also didn't do.
Fourth, in my eyes it was and is a crime to prescribe
concentration camp prisoners LSD: It was and is very
ill-researched; it was then illegal to be used and prescribed,
but Bastiaans got special permission to do so from Parliament; and the
whole idea that you could cure seriously shocked persons by
seriously shocking them once or several times more with LSD and sodium
pentothal (truth serum) just seemed (and seems) utter trash to
In fact, it was utter trash, but this did not become known till
well into the 2000s, and after Bastiaans had died. In case you read
Dutch, here are links to two pieces I wrote about it, one in 2005 (when to the best of my knowledge
I only spoke for myself) and a longer one in 2009 after it came to my knowledge
that Bram Enning had been promoted on a study about Bastiaans, which
left very little or nothing standing of Bastiaans' many claims.
In case you want to read
something in English, there is this from 1998: "The LSD
Therapy Career of Jan Bastiaans, M.D." (but this is a bit more
careful than later more critical Dutch articles).
Fifth and last (though
there is more I could say), I really object to the title of the
article: Whatever might have been passed - and as I said: a lot
of knowledge is simply missing now - it was not "trauma".
6. Dow drops more than 500 points as US
markets plummet amid global sell-off
This last item is
by Rupert Neate and Phillip Inman on The Guardian:
This starts as
US stock markets dropped
dramatically on Friday afternoon, dragging overall global markets to
their worst week of the year as concerns about the health of the Chinese economy
rattled investors across the world.
All of the main US
indices closed down more than 3% on Friday, the fourth consecutive day
of falls. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 531 points, or
3.1%, to 16,460 – the S&P 500 lost 3.2% to 1,971 and the Nasdaq
closed down 3.5% to 4,706.
Most major markets around
the world also suffered bruising losses as new data suggested Chinese
factory activity had slowed to levels last seen in 2009 and added to
investors’ fears about the country’s economy since Beijing devalued its currency last week.
US oil prices also crashed down to below $40
a barrel a one point, a level not seen since the financial crisis.
I say, though I can't
say I am much amazed, at least not since I published about the third consecutive devaluation of the
Chinese yuan. And yes, this is certainly crisis news.
There is a
considerably larger amount of information in the article, that shows
the situation is serious. I will leave that to your interests, and
probably will wait until Monday to return to the topic.
 The main psychological reason I can see for some of
his claimed "successes" (which are very vague claims, because
one of the specialisms of Bastiaans was not to document his
cases (!)) is cognitive
dissonance: Taking LSD may be very frightening for healthy
people, let alone for former concentration camp prisoners.
I note that I had seen some 60 people - at least - tripping on LSD or
mescalin (mostly in 1970 in the Amsterdam Sleep-In I then led) and also
had seen quite a few (always: young people without known
serious psychological problems) get into "a bad trip", i.e. something
best described as a quite frightening though in their cases usually
Also, I had read up on LSD, and knew little was known about it (with
any good scientific status).