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."
Papers: Leaked Military Documents Expose US
2. Police: Assange would be
arrested if he left embassy to
3. VIDEO: Chris Hedges and Max
Blumenthal on Israel, Gaza
and ‘The 51 Day War’
4. Creating an Un-Intelligence Machine
Fascinating Truth About Why Artificial Intelligence
Over the World
101: The Three Reasons Republican Deficit
Hawks Are Wrong
This is a Nederlog
of Friday, October 16, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 6 items with 7
dotted links: Item 1
is about The Drone Papers that were published this morning on The
Intercept, that also includes a link to these papers, but I postpone
discussing them till tomorrow or next week (too little time today,
though what I do give is quite good); item
is about a problem Julian Assange has since June: A painful shoulder,
that needs an MRI, that when taken outside the Ecuadorian Embassy will
lead to his arrest; item 3 is about a
video by Hedges and Blumenthal about Gaza and Israel; item 4 is about an article by Tom
Engelhardt that is in fact about the enormous quite secret
and classified bureaucracy
that gathers and analyses everybody's private data (I am quite
sure because the American government seeks to control everyone:
were it otherwise they would have proceeded quite differently);
item 5 is about AI and
concludes, correctly in my view, that it is far more rational
worry about the really existing and very dangerous bureaucracies (such
as the secret American one in the previous item) than about "AI is
taking over the world", for it isn't, and it will not be, until a whole
lot more is known; and item 6 is
Reich's explanation of rational economics (and I think he is right, but
the majority of the American politicians don't think so, generally without
having his economical knowledge).
1. Drone Papers: Leaked Military Documents
Expose US 'Assassination Complex'
The first item today is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common
This is quite
interesting: There may be another Edward Snowden, it seems, and he (or
she) has revealed papers about the drone war that the U.S. is
conductiing in many countries.
Since I have to do a lot
today (and a few hours to write these Nederlogs, and a lousy health,
with bad and painful eyes) I will split things up: Today there is the
link to a decent exposition of what gets revealed, plus a link to the
main paper on The Intercept, and I will later - tomorrow or in the next
week - return to The Intercept.
So... to start with, here
is the summary of Nadia Prupis' article:
Based on cache of secret
slides leaked by national security whistleblower, stunning exposé by The
Intercept reveals inner workings—and failures—of the U.S.
military's clandestine efforts in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia
That is the summary.
Clearly, the "secret slides" contain a lot less information than Edward
Snowden revealed, but meanwhile they are very welcome, because
the wars that the US now conducts are done mostly in secret and by a
large professional and privatized - non-drafted 
The article starts as
A stunning new exposé by The
Intercept, which includes the publication of classified documents
leaked by an intelligence source, provides an unprecedented look at the
U.S. military's secretive global assassination program.
The series of articles,
Drone Papers, follows months of investigation and
uses rare primary source documents and slides to reveal to the public,
for the first time, the flaws and consequences of the U.S. military's
14-year aerial campaign being conducted in Yemen, Somalia, and
Afghanistan—one that has consistently used faulty information, killed
an untold number of civilians, and stymied intelligence-gathering
through its "kill/capture" program that too often relies on killing
rather than capturing.
Here is the first
link, to The Drone Papers on The Intercept:
And here is Jeremy Scahill,
the lead investigator, quoted in the article:
"The series is intended
to serve as a long-overdue public examination of the methods and
outcomes of America's assassination program," writes the
investigation's lead reporter, Jeremy Scahill. "This campaign, carried
out by two presidents through four presidential terms, has been
shrouded in excessive secrecy. The public has a right to see these
documents not only to engage in an informed debate about the future of
U.S. wars, both overt and covert, but also to understand the
circumstances under which the U.S. government arrogates to itself the
right to sentence individuals to death without the established checks
and balances of arrest, trial, and appeal."
The source of the
documents, who asked to remain anonymous due to the U.S. government's
aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, said
the public has a right to know about a program that is so
"fundamentally" and "morally" flawed.
There is also this (quoted
in part here: For more, click the first dotted link):
As outlined by The
Intercept, the key revelations of the reporting are:
- Assassinations have
depended on unreliable
intelligence. More than half the intelligence used to track
potential kills in Yemen and Somalia was based on electronic
communications data from phones, computers, and targeted intercepts
(know as signals intelligence) which, the government admits, it has
“poor” and “limited” capability to collect. By the military’s own
admission, it was lacking in reliable information from human sources.
- The documents contradict
Administration claims that its operations against high-value terrorists
and precise. Contrary to claims that these campaigns narrowly
target specific individuals, the documents show that air strikes under
the Obama administration have killed significant numbers of unnamed
bystanders. Documents detailing a 14-month kill/capture campaign in
Afghanistan, for example, show that while the U.S. military killed 35
of its direct targets with air strikes, 219 other individuals also died
in the attacks.
- In Afghanistan, the
military has designated unknown men it kills as “Enemies
Killed in Action.” According to The Intercept’s source, the
military has a practice of labeling individuals killed in air strikes
this way unless evidence emerges to prove otherwise.
This is the ending of the
(...) as the documents
reveal, assurances from the Obama administration that drone strikes are
precise and used only in cases of "imminent" threats are themselves
based on intentionally vague definitions of "imminence."
architects of the U.S. drone program have acknowledged its
shortcomings," said Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept.
"But they have made sure that this campaign, launched by Bush and
vastly expanded under Obama, has been shrouded in secrecy. The public
has a right to know how the US government has decided who to kill."
As the source himself
said, "We’re allowing this to happen. And by 'we,' I mean every
American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues
to do nothing about it."
There will be more in
Nederlog on The Drone Papers the coming days.
2. Police: Assange would be
arrested if he left embassy to visit hospital
next article is by Matthew Weaver on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
As the article
describes, Julian Assange's right shoulder is constantly painful since
June 2015, which limits all movements with it, and the doctor who
treats him needs and MRI - and an MRI is a big machine, that is quite
difficult to get to the Ecuadorian embassy, where Assange has been
locked up since three years.
The Metropolitan police have confirmed that their
officers would arrest the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if he left
the Ecuadorian embassy in London to go to hospital for a medical
minister, Ricardo Patiño, said Assange, who has been living in the
embassy for more than three years, should be given safe passage to hospital for
an MRI scan to help diagnose a pain in his shoulder.
The Foreign Office said
Assange, who is subject to a European arrest warrant over an allegation
of rape in Sweden, will not be prevented by the British authorities
from receiving medical treatment. But it said questions over his arrest
were a matter for the Met, which this week scaled back its costly 24-hour surveillance of
Yard confirmed that Assange would face arrest if he stepped outside the
This is the current situation in brief:
Australian national, sought political asylum at the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden.
His American lawyer, Carey Shenkman, accused Britain of forcing Assange
to “choose between the human right to asylum and the human right to
Yes. There is more in
VIDEO: Chris Hedges
and Max Blumenthal on Israel, Gaza and ‘The 51 Day War’
next article is posted by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig, with the
text of the video prepared by The Real News Network:
This starts as follows:
I selected this article
because I think what the Israeli's did in Gaza was pretty obscene, and
because Max Blumenthal has a Jewish background.
In an interview on
teleSUR’s “Days of Revolt,” Chris Hedges and Max Blumenthal discuss the brutal tactics used by the Israeli
state in its ongoing effort to suppress Palestinian resistance in the
This starts as follows:
This is continued thus:
CHRIS HEDGES: Hi, I’m
Chris Hedges. Welcome to Days of Revolt. Today we’re going to discuss
Israeli military policy. In particular, how that policy is directed
towards the subject population in the Gaza Strip; 1.8 million
Palestinians trapped in the largest open-air prison in the world. We’re
going to focus on the assault last summer that left over 2,000 dead,
including over 500 children; what that means for where Israel is going
to go; and what that means for the Palestinians themselves.
In the studio with me is Max
Blumenthal, the author of The 51 Day War, as well as Goliath, which
without question I think is the most important book on modern-day
There is a considerable
amount about the conflict in the article. I read it all,
HEDGES: So, so we’ve
seen, going back to 2006, a series of very heavy military strikes
carried out by Israel against a completely captive population in Gaza.
2006 when they were attempting to free the Israeli soldier Shalit,
2007, 2008 and ‘09 with Cast Lead, Pillar of Cloud, 2002, and last
summer the most extensive assault on the Gaza Strip with Protective
Edge. Why? Why does Israel keep using this kind of military force, and
why do they keep ratcheting it up?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, it’s
fairly simple if you consider that the Gaza Strip has really been the
base of the Palestinian armed struggle since the 1950s, and that
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have not relented in their quest to
but must add that the information is fairly specific.
4. Creating an Un-Intelligence Machine
next article is
by Tom Engelhardt on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:
This starts as
In fact, the figure does
not astound me, and the real figures - that
are indicated below - are far larger. But it is true I have
been closely following the crisis news for over 7 years now,
and especially since June 10, 2013.
That figure stunned
me. I found it in the 12th paragraph of a front-page
New York Times story about “senior commanders” at U.S. Central
Command (CENTCOM) playing fast
and loose with intelligence reports to give their air war against ISIS
an unjustified sheen of success: “CENTCOM’s mammoth intelligence
operation, with some 1,500 civilian, military, and contract analysts,
is housed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, in a bay front building
that has the look of a sterile government facility posing as a Spanish
Think about that.
CENTCOM, one of
six U.S. military commands that divide the planet up like a pie,
has at least 1,500 intelligence analysts (military, civilian, and
private contractors) all to itself.
But staying with the 1500 analysts for the moment, here is a good
Now, try to
imagine what those 1,500 analysts are doing, even for a command deep in
a “quagmire” in Syria and Iraq, as President Obama recently dubbed it
(though he was admittedly speaking
about the Russians), as well as what looks like a failing war, 14
years later, in Afghanistan, and another in Yemen led by the Saudis but
backed by Washington. Even given all of that, what in the world
could they possibly be “analyzing”? Who at CENTCOM, in the
Defense Intelligence Agency, or elsewhere has the time to attend to the
reports and data flows that must be generated by 1,500 analysts?
The first question -
what are they analyzing? - is fairly easy to answer I think: All the
data they got from plundering computers and cell phones in the regions,
plus all the data they got from everybody else in the world. And -
judging by what Snowden revealed - there are a whole lot of
But the second question is good, and also points to something behind
it: Who analayzes these analyses? My guess is fairly simple: The higher
ups, but these will only consider a small portion of the materials
their staff gathered, as indeed
everywhere else in a bureaucracy - and that is what I
am talking about: There
is an enormous quite secret bureaucracy:
And while you’re thinking
about all this, keep in mind that those 1,500 analysts feed into, and
assumedly draw on, an intelligence system of a size surely unmatched
even by the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Think
of it: the U.S. Intelligence Community has—count ‘em— 17
agencies and outfits, eating close to $70 billion annually, more
than $500 billion between 2001 and 2013. And if that doesn’t
stagger you, think about the 500,000
private contractors hooked into the system in one way or another,
million people (34% of them private contractors) with access to
“top secret” information, and the 5.1 million—larger
population—with access to “confidential and secret” information.
Thus, there are -
adding them up - 7 million individuals (about 2 % of
the total American population) who have access to various degrees of secret
information (not meant to be known by anyone who is not
cleared) that keeps tabs on the other 98% of the US population, plus
the rest of the world, and does so by stealing all the data
they can find on any computer or cell phone.
Here is some more, in
the next paragraph:
Remember as well that, in
these years, a global
surveillance state of Orwellian proportions has been ramped
up. It gathers
billions of emails and cell phone calls from the backlands of the
planet; has kept tabs on at least 35
leaders of other countries and the secretary
general of the U.N. by hacking
email accounts, tapping
cell phones, and so on; keeps a careful eye and ear on its own
citizens, including video
gamers; and even, it seems, spies
on Congress. (After all, whom can you trust?)
There is, in brief, a
secret system of some 7 million supermen and
superwomen who may know all or most of the things that the other
98% of the American population are not and never to
know, for all of this information is secret and classified.
Nearly all of these 7
million supermen were hired since 9/11, on the pretext of "the war on
terrorism", but in fact to give the government + its backers all the
powers they need to redesign American society in the - secret
and classified - shape the government + its financial backers
And here is the next
In other words, if that
1,500 figure bowls you over, keep in mind that it just stands in for a
far larger system that puts to shame, in size and yottabytes
of information collected, the wildest dreams of past science fiction
writers. In these years, a mammoth, even labyrinthine,
bureaucratic “intelligence” structure has been constructed that is
drowning in “information”—and on its own, it seems, the military has
been ramping up a smaller but similarly scaled set of intelligence
Here is the definition of a
1 YB = 10008bytes = 1024bytes = 1000000000000000000000000bytes
There is a whole lot more
in the article that is well worth reading, that I leave to your
interests - but I do think they are collecting real
information, and that they are doing so to control the world.
They're not there yet, but they are well on the way.
Here is the end of the
Yes and no, in my
My own suspicion: you
could get rid of most of the 17 agencies and outfits in the U.S.
Intelligence Community and dump just about all the secret and
classified information that is the heart and soul of the national
security state. Then you could let a small group of independently
minded analysts and critics loose on open-source material, and you
would be far more likely to get intelligent, actionable, inventive
analyses of our global situation, our wars, and our beleaguered path
into the future.
The evidence, after all,
is largely in. In these years, for what now must be approaching
three-quarters of a trillion dollars, the national security state and
the military seem to have created an un-intelligence system.
Welcome to the fog of everything.
Yes, Tom Engelhardt is quite right if the aim of the
intelligence gathering were what the American government pretends
it is ("beating the terrorists, and winning the wars").
But I do not think that is the aim, as indeed seems obvious
to me from the fact that the NSA and the GCHQ and all other
intelligence agencies are trying to get all information -
private, financial, health, were you are, what you type, what you read,
what you think, whom you communicate with, what you look like, naked or
not, and on, and on, and on, and on - about everybody, totally
regardless of whether they are Muslims, totally regardless of any
judicial complaint, and totally regardless of their political
values: They simply collect everything they can collect on
everyone because they want to control everybody.
And so far they are quite successful.
5. The Fascinating Truth About Why Artificial
Intelligence Won't Take Over the World
next article is
by Sean Miller on AlterNet:
From the beginning:
I think that is nonsense
as well, but I am a philosopher and a psychologist,
Hollywood's fixation with
the threat of AI only exacerbates the public's predisposition to worry
over abstract bogeys while ignoring more pressing concerns like climate
change. It doesn't help when arguably the world's most famous
scientist, Stephen Hawking, reinforces the hysteria with references
to yet another movie, Transcendence, featuring a sociopathic
Where the oracle of
Cambridge goes, tech billionaires dutifully follow.
So Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak have piled onto the
fearmongering. Taking full advantage of the bully pulpit afforded
him by his revered standing as a leading theoretical physicist, on
numerous occasions, Hawking has gone on the public record with ominous
pronouncements about AI. In an interview with
the BBC, he said that the "development of full artificial intelligence
could spell the end of the human race."
and got only As in these fields. In any case, I have several times
explained why I can't take AI serious (no supercomputer comes
close to what a spider does, is one example I gave - and nobody
knows what consciousness is, how the brain generates experiences, what
are character and personality, or indeed what is madness), and I will
take it for granted here.
Here is Miller's example:
the IBM supercomputer that famously won the American game show
"Jeopardy." (...) But compared to the bacteria Escherichia coli, Watson
is a moron.
Yes, that seems mostly
correct - and besides: how a bacterium works is also mostly unknown.
Next, there is this:
Let's come back to
Lovelock's analogy that, in terms of complexity, equates a single cell
to the island of Manhattan. Extending the analogy, what Shaw and his
minions are doing with their superexpensive supercomputers is modeling
one apartment building, say, at the corner of East 82nd and York. Shaw
would need an army of Antons to even begin to approximate the hubbub of
the entire island.
Human behavior, in
all its predictably irrational glory, is still the culmination of a
complexity that dwarfs the relative primitiveness of the bacterium. Our
bodies consist of 10 trillion eukaryotic cells working in concert with
100 trillion non-human guest cells. Our minds—grounded in these
bodies—interact with a vast, dynamic world. Max Galka, an expert in machine learning, says that
"machines have historically been very bad at the kind of thinking
needed to anticipate human behavior." "After decades of work," he
points out, "there has been very little progress to suggest it is even
This is also correct, though
indeed it seems not very likely that a man is 100 trillion times as
complicated as one cell. (But again, there is mainly no relevant
information: Most of the principles that guide the interactions
of cells and groups of cells are simply unknown today.)
Finally, this is from close to the end:
Bureaucracy is a
superintelligence that transmutes individuals into a machine. While
utterly dependent upon it, we all mistrust, even begrudge it. It's the
DMV. It's Big Data. It's Wall Street. It's the Deep State. What's most
intimidating about bureaucracy is that it's a human-machine hybrid, a
It is a bit sudden, but
are a kind of coordinated superintelligence (being
composed of human beings and computers, working for specific ends, posed by values and ideologies);
they undoubtedly exist; and they also may be very dangerous:
See e.g. item 1 and item 4.
And I do agree with Sean Miller that it is much more rational
to be quite afraid of quite a few bureaucracies
than engage in speculations about the dangers of some future
In case you're interested, I also wrote a Bureaucracy
Plan - but I am quite sure that will not be realized or even
started while I live, in spite of the fact that it is
rational and humanistic.
6. AUSTERITY 101: The
Three Reasons Republican Deficit Hawks Are Wrong
The final article today is
by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
Congress is heading into
another big brawl over the
federal budget deficit, the national debt, and the debt ceiling.
Republicans are already
talking about holding Social Security
and Medicare “hostage” during negotiations—hell-bent on getting cuts
in exchange for a debt limit hike.
Days ago, U.S. Treasury
Secretary Jacob Lew asked whether our
nation would “muster the political will to avoid the
that come from a political stalemate.”
It’s a fair question. And
there’s only one economically sound
answer: Congress must raise the debt ceiling, end the sequester, put
more people to work,
and increase our investment in education and infrastructure.
Here are the three
reasons why Republican deficit hawks are wrong. (Please watch and share
our attached video.)
I agree with all that, as
indeed I think anyone with some sound knowledge of (Keynesian
inspired) economics does, indeed also because the one alternative,
which may be called Friedmannian,
only worked to make the very few rich a whole
lot richer, at the costs of the many poor and non-rich.
Here is Reich's first
FIRST: Deficit and debt
numbers are meaningless on their own.
They have to be viewed as a percent of the national economy.
That is or ought to
be self-evident. Next, the second reason:
SECOND: America needs to
run larger deficits when lots of people
are unemployed or underemployed – as they still are today, when
millions remain too discouraged to look for jobs and millions more are
in part-time jobs and need full-time work.
As we’ve known for years
– in every economic downturn and in
every struggling recovery – more government spending helps
create jobs – teachers, fire
fighters, police officers, social workers, people to rebuild roads and
and parks. And the people in these jobs create far more jobs when they
spend their paychecks.
This kind of spending
thereby grows the economy – thereby
increasing tax revenues and allowing the deficit to shrink in
Doing the opposite –
cutting back spending when a lot of people
are still out of work – as Congress has done with the sequester, as
Europe has done – causes economies to slow or even shrink, which makes
deficit larger in proportion.
As Keynes explained.
Here is the third reason:
THIRD AND FINALLY:
Deficit spending on investments like
education and infrastructure is different than other forms of spending,
this spending builds productivity and future economic growth.
Keep these three
principles in mind and you won’t be fooled by
scare tactics of the deficit hawks.
And you’ll understand why
we have to raise the debt ceiling, end the sequester, put more
people to work, and increase rather than decrease spending on vital
investments like education and infrastructure.
I agree - but the
problem with Robert Reich's plans (which I tend to agree with, which is
also why I treat them in Nederlog: he is a clear and rational
writer with good ideas) is that most politicians see it otherwise,
indeed not for good economical reasons (though they like to
pretend they do) but for political reasons.
Nixon finished the draft, that could select anyone of the
appropriate age as a soldier, including the sons of rich,
wellknown or political persons, and replaced it by a professional army.
This contributed much to the
secrecy and authoritarianness in the American army (and also lowered
its average intelligence, I am quite sure, but now no son of a
politician or a pundit needs to fear anymore he will be drafted).