who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
| "All governments lie and
say should be believed."
tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
Rejecting U.S. Claims, MSF Details Horrific Bombing of
Afghan Hospital & Demands
War Crimes Probe
How the TPP Could Blow Up the Free Internet as We
3. The Digital Dog Ate Our Civil-Liberties Homework:
“It’s Just the Way
4. Snowden Celebrates 'Broadly Influential' Ruling
Against NSA Dragnet
This is a Nederlog
of Tuesday, November 10, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1
continues about the MSF, whose hospital in Kunduz was attacked by the
US army, which led to a loss of at least 30 people killed; item 2 is about how the TPP (and the
TTIP and the TiSA), and shows free internet soon may be over; item 3 is about an American
quasi-investigative quasi-journalist (who may be the future of
"journalism"); and item 4 is about a
recent ruling by Judge Leon.
This is another more or less ordinary crisis log. Tomorrow will probably
be a bit different, because then my site exists for 19 years
(yes, it does). I don't yet know what I will do then, but I
will probably write about the site and not about the crisis (but you
Rejecting U.S. Claims, MSF Details Horrific Bombing of Afghan Hospital
& Demands War Crimes Probe
The first article today is by
Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continues to demand an independent war crimes
probe of the U.S. bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after
releasing its own preliminary investigation. The U.S. airstrike on
October 3 killed at least 30 people, including 13 staff members, 10
patients and seven unrecognizable victims yet to be identified. In a
new report based on interviews with dozens of witnesses, MSF describes patients burning in their beds,
medical staff who were decapitated and lost limbs, and staff members
shot from the air while they fled the burning building. Doctors and
other medical staff were shot while running to reach safety in a
different part of the compound. MSF says it
provided the GPS coordinates to U.S. and Afghan officials weeks before and
that the strikes continued for half an hour after U.S. and Afghan
authorities were told the hospital was being bombed.
I wrote about this
before - last here (with links
earlier Nederlogs) and here - and
this is a follow-up.
Also, my own guess
is that MSF was in fact intentionally attacked because of this
- and I
stress this is a guess, in part because the US government and
military decline an objective investigation:
GOODMAN: U.S. officials
have said they bombed the hospital in part because they thought it was
under Taliban control. Doctors Without Borders General Director
Christopher Stokes rejected that claim, saying there were no armed
combatants on hospital grounds. Wounded combatants from both sides of
the Afghan conflict were being treated inside.
Let me be clear: We were absolutely treating wounded combatants, and we
were treating wounded combatants that were both government and
opposition. And a patient is a patient. We don’t choose our patients.
If they’re presented to hospital, they’ll be treated. And treating
wounded combatants is not a crime. Being a doctor in a war zone cannot
be punishable by airstrike.
Clearly - I'd say -
Christopher Stokes is quite correct that a hospital must treat
But it seems to me that America's military currently believes that the only
patients that a hospital should treat are
sympathizers with the American military, and that everybody else can be
treated as enemy, also if they are doctors of the MSF, and certainly if
they are wounded Taliban.
In fact, that also seems an illegal position given UN rules, but
America's military, who already fight with a professional army (rather
than a drafted one ), that also "embed" - aka:
muzzle - most of the
journalists, seems to be enforcing it, and indeed seems helped by
politicians from no less than 76 countries, who
all seem to have dropped their allegiance to the integrity and courage
of the MSF.
I am guessing
in the previous two paragraphs, but then I am also trying to explain
facts like this:
This hospital was a place
that had been open for four years. In fact, that night even, it was
the—probably the most well-lit structure in the entire city of Kunduz,
which has about 300,000 people in it, because we were running
generators that night. And so it was well lit, easily visible from the
sky. And it was one of the most well-known facilities in the area.
That nevertheless was
bombed by the Americans. There is also this:
GOODMAN: Jason Cone, do
you believe the U.S. military attack on the—your hospital, the MSF hospital in Kunduz, is a war crime?
CONE: It’s going to be a
war crime if it—you know, knowing that our hospital was a civilian
structure. It should have never lost that status. We were always
communicating its location. It’s a responsibility of the warring
parties to be able to distinguish between civilian and military
targets. From our perspective, they failed to do so. We were given no
warning before the attack—that’s also a precondition. This isn’t about
intent. There’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not this was
a mistake. This is not necessarily the threshold that has to be crossed
for this to constitute a grave breach of international humanitarian
law. If the military fails to distinguish between military and civilian
targets, as is in this case, from our standpoint, from everything we
know, then they’re guilty of breaching IHL,
humanitarian law. And that’s something that needs to be looked at and
needs to be questioned by an international independent commission.
I quite agree, but I would
not be amazed - seeing that 76 countries failed to
protect the MSF and its brave doctors - if such an "international independent commission" can not be gathered, or if
it is gathered it
will basically repeat what the American military say.
That would be a great
shame, but it would also not at all be the first or last pack of lies
about the Afghan war.
How the TPP Could Blow Up the Free Internet as We Know It
The next article is by Evan Greer on AlterNet, and originally on The
Guardian, that forbids copying because it is a very liberal paper :
This starts as follows:
After years of
secrecy, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has finally
been released to the public.
The shadowy process and
overreaching scope of the deal have sparked an international outcry; it’s
been roundly condemned as an attack on worker’s
rights, the environment, public health, small businesses
and startups. But perhaps the biggest
concern is over the impact that it will have on the internet.
Yes. This continues as
TPP is a legally binding
pact negotiated between 12 countries, including the United States.
Industry lobbyists and government bureaucrats huddled for months in
closed-door meetings to draft and debate the deal while journalists,
human rights advocates and tech experts were locked out. It can’t
accurately be called a “trade deal”. Its 30 chapters and 6,194 pages
cover a dizzying range of policy questions that have nothing to do with
tariffs, imports or exports.
The final version of TPP
confirms advocates’ worst fears. Thanks to, among other things, its
dramatic expansion of copyright enforcement, the agreement poses a
grave threat to our basic right to access information and express
ourselves on the web, and could easily be abused to criminalize common
online activities and enforce widespread internet censorship.
I must say that my own
approach towards the TPP (to which I am not subject as a European) and
the TTIP (to which I will be subject if it is introduced) is one of
I never even voted
for any politician since 1971; I think the vast majority of all
politicians that I have seen the last 45 years (!) are and have been lying careerists; I
think no law should be proposed that is secret - but
these "laws" are all secret till the last moment, so that nobody
except their makers can decently reflect on them; they all seem the
build-up to instituting corporate fascism on a world-wide
basis; they are the most degenerate bunch of (proposed)
sadistic, fascistic corporate plunder I have ever seen or heard
about, and I want absolutely none of it.
Then again, I am quite
aware that this is personal; that I have no children; and that
meanwhile I am 65 and have been ill the last 37 years, so for me
having and writing these opinions is rather different from if I
were - say - 50, with 3 sons, and 5 grandchildren, whom I all want to
live and thrive, also if the governmental climate is getting much more
authoritarian (as it is).
Here is more about the TPP:
Many of the scariest
scenes in the TPP script take place in the intellectual property chapter. This section
exports the most draconian aspects of the United States’ broken
copyright system and forces them onto the rest of the world, without requiring “fair
use” provisions that are necessary to protect free speech.
One provision demands
that TPP member countries enforce copyright terms 70 years after the
death of the creator. This will keep an immeasurable amount of
information, art and creativity locked away from the public domain for
decades longer than necessary, and allow for governments and
corporations to abuse copyright laws and censor content at will, since
so much of what’s online will be subject to copyright for decades.
Here are two examples
of how incredibly much this will cost: Bertrand Russell died in
1970. To quote anything of what he wrote since 1895, say, I
would have to wait till I (who was born nearly 80 years after him) am
90 in 2040. Likewise, Henry Miller died in 1980. To quote anything
he wrote, I would have to wait till I turn 100 in 2050. In both cases,
most that these men wrote that is
still relevant, was written in the first half of the 20th Century. None
is quotable by the TPP rules till after I am very probably dead.
To put the same point
otherwise: This will murder the texts of almost any writer, and
these will get murdered because they are not
quotable for something like 100 years, in order to give those who print
them maximum profits. For normally a text must get picked up while the
writer is still alive, or at most 25 years dead.
Finally, there is
this on the implications of the TPP for the internet:
I quite agree - and in
fact I also understand my communist parents a little better, for they
possessed for a long time - around ten years, I think - a
stencil machine, with which they multiplied papers (after typing
them unto a stencil) that went mostly to people who had, like them,
been in the Dutch resistance.
In the shadow of a
well-documented media blackout, so much of
the discussion, criticism and organizing around TPP has happened over
the web. It’s terrifying to think that this agreement, if ratified,
will not only trample our rights, but could also fundamentally break
the most powerful tool we have to raise awareness about the urgent
issues of our time, expose the secrets of the corrupt and powerful, and
amplify the voices of the millions struggling for a better world.
In fact, I think stencil machines (the term is English) are not
being made anymore in Europe, but something like this may be
necessary again, given that on any computer and any
cell phone the goverment has or
may have its totally anonymous spies, who see to it that you keep
behaving just as the
government wants, who always know where you are (via your
cellphone) and know absolutely everything you know and think,
and who all are completely free to Deny, Disrupt,
Degrade or Deceive you (and this is from your
- very kind, very loving - quite anonymous governmental
overseers at the GCHQ):
3. The Digital Dog Ate Our Civil-Liberties
Homework: “It’s Just the Way It Is”
The next article for today is
by Norman Solomon on Common Dreams:
This is here basically
because it confirms an intuition I had earlier, when reviewing Charlie
Savage, who was interviewed by Amy Goodman. That intuition and a small
part of the interview it was based on is here.
And here is Norman Solomon's response:
Of all the excuses ladled
out for the Obama administration's shredding of the Fourth Amendment
while assaulting press freedom and prosecuting “national security”
whistleblowers, none is more pernicious than the claim that technology
At first glance, the explanation might seem to make sense. After all,
the capacities of digital tech have become truly awesome. It’s easy to
finger “technology” as the driver of government policies, as if the
president at the wheel has little choice but to follow the
technological routes that have opened up for Big Brother.
Actually not, it seems to
me: Technology is never anything but possible choices, and the
only ones who make these choices are always individual human
beings. The fact that you can make something never
implies that you must make it, but I agree this is - perhaps -
difficult to see for relativists or
Yes, precisely. And
there is this:
Now comes New
York Times reporter Charlie Savage,
telling listeners and viewers of a Democracy Now interview that
the surveillance state is largely a matter of technology: “It’s just
the way it is in the 21st century.”
That’s a great way to
depoliticize a crucial subject—downplaying the major dynamics of the
political economy, anti-democratic power and top-down choices—letting
leaders off the hook, as if sophistication calls for understanding that
government is to be regulated by high-tech forces rather than the other
I'd say - "because of
technology" - he is just a fraud who poses as if he is an
"investigative journalist", but who in fact merely wants the reputation
to make money for himself.
When Amy Goodman asked
Savage about the Obama administration’s record-high prosecutions of
whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, he summed up this way:
“Because of technology,
it’s impossible to hide who’s in contact with whom anymore, and cases
are viable to investigate now that weren’t before. That’s not something
Obama did or Bush did. It’s just the way it is in the 21st century, and
investigative journalism is still grappling with the implications of
Then again, while I much dislike his fundamentally dishonest
type, I must admit that I have met considerably more men like him
- I think - than I have met honest men, so he may be
the future of quasi-investigative quasi-journalism.
'Broadly Influential' Ruling Against
As the last article of today,
here is Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
Mostly, this is in fact about
Judge Richard Leon, who made a fine ruling in the end of 2013:
Note that Judge Leon - very
correctly, I think - explicitly said that the American Constitution,
that comprises the so-called Bill of Rights, that include the Fourth
Amendment, definitely trumps any American government's
decisions, in which he also is quite right.
Reiterating his prior ruling
which found the U.S. government's surveillance of civilians' telephone
records to be unconstitutional—"Orwellian," even—a federal judge on
the National Security Agency to halt its bulk
"This court simply
cannot, and will not, allow the government to trump the Constitution
merely because it suits the exigencies of the moment," Judge Richard
Leon wrote in his 43-page decision
in the case Klayman v. Obama.
Though the ruling comes
just 20 days before the NSA program is set to expire under orders set
forth in the USA Freedom Act, civil liberties advocates were quick to
celebrate the decision as a victory
that may potentially have broad implications for the U.S. government's
lesser-known surveillance operations.
Incidentally, to refresh your
memory, here is the Fourth Amendment, that was supposed to be silenced by a few notes from some
lawyers acting for Bush Jr:
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
I also agree with Leon that
the wilful breaking of this (also on an incredibly large scale)
was and is Orwellian.
Amendment to the US Constitution
There is also this (and considerably more, including two tweets by
Edward Snowden), about which I am a bit more skeptical:
That is, I agree with
Greene about what Judge Leon's "should" mean (emphasis added by
me) but I have seen so many governmental lies and liars that I am a bit
more doubtful than Greene is, though I hope he is right.
Though the order is
technically limited to the plaintiffs, David Greene, senior staff
attorney and civil liberties director with the Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF), said it is likely to impact other pending cases
against government surveillance. "Leon’s opinion and his refutation of
the government’s arguments, which are almost identical to the government's
arguments in other mass surveillance cases, should be broadly
influential in ongoing and future challenges to the NSA's suspicionless
spying," Greene wrote.
14, 2015: Reformatted.
This was a considerable mistake in my opinion, but I will not argue
this here and now, except by saying that wars are a lot more
difficult if the sons and daughters of Senators and Congressmen may get
 You are right if you infer that I no
longer think so, but
this again is a theme I will not argue here and now (but probably will,