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."
1. Air Force Whistleblowers Risk
Prosecution to Warn Drone War
Kills Civilians, Fuels Terror
2. The Paris Attacks Are Being Used to
Justify Agendas They Have
Nothing to Do With
3. Bernie Sanders Champions
Democratic Socialism in Major Speech at Georgetown
4. The ‘War on Terror’ Has
5. New Docs Reveal NSA Never
Ended Bulk Email
Collection, Just Hid It Better
This is a Nederlog
of Saturday, November 21, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is again on the four drone operators who
stepped forward as whistleblowers: This gives some more information and
also quotes their quite good letter to Obama and others; item
2 is mostly concerned with the spineless "journalists" of the
mainstream media and with some quite crazy comments by GOP presidential
candidates; item 3 is about a speech on democratic
socialism that Bernie Sanders gave at Georgetown, with various comments
by me; item 4 is about an article by Nat Parry,
where I agree with Parry's main thesis that the "War on Terror" has
been lost, but also insist Bush Jr, Obama, their military men, and most
politicians disagree with Parry and me; and item 5
is about the news that the NSA continues collecting all e-mails, and
does so by moving to another country. I am not amazed (and much
1. Air Force
Whistleblowers Risk Prosecution to Warn Drone War Kills Civilians,
The first item today
is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows, and I wrote about this before (here), but today there are several
interviews with these four whistleblowers on Democracy Now! This is
from the beginning of one of them:
Has the U.S.
drone war "fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and
groups like ISIS"? That’s the conclusion of
four former Air Force servicemembers who are speaking out together for
the first time. They’ve issued a letter to President Obama warning the
U.S. drone program is one of the most devastating driving forces for
terrorism. They accuse the administration of lying about the
effectiveness of the drone program, saying it is good at killing
people—just not the right ones. The four drone war veterans risk
prosecution by an administration that has been unprecedented in its
targeting of government whistleblowers. In a Democracy Now! exclusive,
they join us in their first extended broadcast interview.
I will leave the interviews to
your interests. I thought they are interesting. Instead I give two more
quotes, the first by Juan González who explains the position of the
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But
now an unprecedented group is calling for the drone war to stop. In an open
letter to President Obama, four U.S. Air Force servicemembers who
took part in the drone campaign say targeted killings and remote
control bombings fuel the very terrorism the government says it’s
trying to destroy. The four whistleblowers write, quote, "We came to
the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled
the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental
recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its
predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most
devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the
The second is the open letter
in the above quote, which is here because it is brief, clear and quite
This is signed by the four,
with ranks and titles. I think it is a brave and very sensible
President Barack Obama
The White House
Secretary Ashton B. Carter
Department of Defense
Director John O. Brennan
Central Intelligence Agency
Dear President Obama,
Secretary Carter and Director Brennan:
We are former Air Force
service members. We joined the Air
Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We
came to the realization that the
innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred
that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a
fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This
administration and its predecessors have built a drone program
one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and
destabilization around the world.
When the guilt of our roles
in facilitating this systematic loss of
innocent life became too much,
all of us succumbed to PTSD. We were cut loose by the same government
we gave so much to sent out in the world without adequate
medical care, reliable public health services, or necessary
benefits. Some of us are now homeless. Others of us barely make
We witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our
country’s leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone
program. We cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the
attacks in Paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has
overseas and at home. Such silence would violate the very oaths
we took to support and defend the Constitution.
We request that you consider our perspective, though perhaps that
request is in vain given the unprecedented prosecution of truthtellers
who came before us like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward
Snowden. For the sake of this country, we hope it is otherwise.
Paris Attacks Are Being Used to Justify Agendas They Have Nothing to Do
The second item today is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This is mainly here because I
can't copy anymore from The Guardian . Here are
two quotes from Trevor Timms writing on The Guardian, who reacted to
the great Republican publicity offense after the Paris attacks:
First, there’s the
loud “we need to ban encryption” push that immediately spawned hundreds
of articles and opinions strongly pushed by current and former
intelligence officials the day or two after the attacks, despite the
government quietly admitting there was no evidence that the attackers
used encryption to communicate. It was a masterful PR coup: current and
former intelligence officials got to sit through a series of fawning
interviews on television where they were allowed to pin any of their
failures on Edward Snowden and encryption – the bedrock of privacy and
security for hundreds of millions of innocent people – with virtually
no pushback, or any critical questions about their own conduct.
Incidentally, I'd say
the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the "journalists" who
failed to ask any critical questions, for "intelligence officials" may
be fairly expected to abuse any opportunity they get to further their
But these days, it seems as if most journalists who work for the
mainstream media have been selected as journalists because they do not
ask any critical question, and merely serve as obsequious admirers of
those they interview.
That is, they are selected to work as "journalists" precisely because
they lack the guts or the brains to really question
political types' many lies and obfuscations.
And there is this:
I'd say that the
position(s) of Christie, Paul and Trump is this: 'We kill 'm for you!
We blow up their houses, roads, hospitals and schools! We murder the
lot for you! Including their women and children! But don't you dare
ask us to take in any refugee! We kill 'm; the Europeans have
to take them in if they are too cowardly to be killed or to fight
Syria! WTF do we care! We are Ex-Cep-Tio- Nal!'
As dishonest as the
“debate” over encryption has been, the dark descension of the
Republican party into outright racism and cynically playing off the
irrational fears of the public over the Syrian refugee crisis has been
worse. We now know the attackers weren’t Syrian and weren’t even
refugees. It was a cruel rumor or hoax that one was thought to have
come through Europe with a Syrian passport system, but that was cleared
up days ago. But in the world of Republican primaries, who cares about
It doesn’t matter that
the US has a robust screening system that has seen over 750,000
refugees come to the United States without incident – the
Republican-led House has now voted to grind the already intensive
screening process to a virtual halt (they were disgracefully joined by
many Democrats). Chris Christie said the US should refuse widows and
orphans. Rand Paul introduced a law to bar the entire Muslim world from
entering the US as refugees. Donald Trump has suggested he would
digitally track every Muslim in the county.
Democratic Socialism in Major Speech at Georgetown
The third item
is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This is the start of a
fairly long series of quotes from the speech, preceded by two
introductory bits. The first is this:
presidential candidate Bernie Sanders presented himself as heir to the
populist legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a speech at Georgetown
University on Thursday that amounts to the clearest articulation yet of
his political philosophy and vision for the United States.
OK - and you find parts
of it below. I agree to the above assessment. There is also this:
an editor at the radical left magazine Jacobin, praised Sanders’
speech and campaign in words meant for socialists who view Sanders as
not pure enough to deserve their support:
I think myself that the "socialists who view Sanders as not pure
enough to deserve their support" consist - in fact - mostly of Chris Hedges, although
this is a guess of mine.
association of socialism with Scandinavian social democracy
rather than “the country with all the gulags that doesn’t exist
anymore” is a far better starting point for a renewed
And I also have several times protested against Chris Hedges (whom I
also like, but disagree with on this point), though I think I have all
these times said that from a European point of view (which is
mine: I have never even been in the USA) the senses of many
political terms, and notably "socialism", "liberalism" and
"neoliberalism" seem rather strongly confused. (It very probably is the
same for most Americans who try to make sense of European politics.)
Besides, I stem from a much more radical family than Sanders or
Hedges , and one of my reasons, when 20,
to change from a basically political point of view to a basically
scientific point of view was precisely all the infighting I'd seen
between various types of socialists, who nearly all battled with each
other very much more than with their capitalist enemies, and
who did so - they said - on the grounds of what seemed to me minor
differences of socialist doctrine, but which they almost always saw in
terms of betrayals.
Anyway, the rest of the quotations in this item are all from Bernie
ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called
economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put
millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty and restored
their faith in government. He redefined the relationship of the federal
government to the people of our country. He combatted cynicism, fear
and despair. He reinvigorated democracy. He transformed the country.
And that is what we have
to do today.
And, by the way, almost
everything he proposed was called “socialist.” Social Security, which
transformed life for the elderly in this country was “socialist.” The
concept of the “minimum wage” was seen as a radical intrusion into the
marketplace and was described as “socialist.” Unemployment insurance,
abolishing child labor, the 40-hour work week, collective bargaining,
strong banking regulations, deposit insurance, and job programs that
put millions of people to work were all described, in one way or
another, as “socialist.” Yet, these programs have become the fabric of
our nation and the foundation of the middle class.
Yes. But I have two
himself was a capitalist (with lots of money from a rich
background), who may have saved capitalism and who did so
(whether or not he saved it) by strongly supporting what I call capitalism-with-a-human-face,
and by opposing the plans of many rich men of his time for capitalism-with-an- inhuman-face.
Roosevelt certainly was not a socialist.
Secondly, As to the
final paragraph above: I am willing to suppose that "all" of the
measures were described (by someone, somehow) as socialist. But then
that was and is rather misleading from my point of
view, for (1) all these changes were proposed within and for a
fundamentally capitalist economy and society, and (2) while most
or all of these changes were initialized or supported by socialists (of
various kinds) I'd say that, within a fundamentally capitalist society,
they are less about socialism than about fairness. 
The reality is that for
the last 40 years the great middle class of this country has been in
decline and faith in our political system is now extremely low.
The rich get much richer.
Almost everyone else gets poorer. Super PACs funded by billionaires buy
elections. Ordinary people don’t vote. We have an economic and
political crisis in this country and the same old, same old
establishment politics and economics will not effectively address it.
In fact, I'd like to
say it started in 1979/1980 when Thatcher was elected as
British prime minister, and Reagan was elected as American president.
This accords better with my own memories, and also with most of the
facts I do know, and one such a bundle of facts is the 1980 book "American
Averages", which gives a great amount of facts about American
society in the 1970ies. (It gets reviewed in four consecutive parts
starting here and does give the
best review of "the USA in the 1970ies" that I know.)
We must not accept a
nation in which billionaires compete as to the size of their
super-yachts, while children in America go hungry and veterans sleep
out on the streets.
Today, in America, we are
the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but few Americans
know that because so much of the new income and wealth goes to the
people on top. In fact, over the last 30 years, there has been a
massive transfer of wealth - trillions of wealth - going from the
middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent - a handful of people
who have seen a doubling of the percentage of the wealth they own over
Yes, though again I
like to date it back to 1980. Also, I am less
interested in the "one-tenth
of 1 percent", and that not
because I don't think they have enormously profited, but because they
are surrounded by a much larger amount of persons - between 5 and 10%
I'd say - who support the government and the rich (and incidentally:
most in the government with dominant positions do belong to the
rich). It is this group - altogether 5-10% of the people - also
who have most of the power, and these who must be defeated.
Today, in America, as the
middle class continues to disappear, median family income, is $4,100
less than it was in 1999. The median male worker made over $700 less
than he did 42 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. Last year, the
median female worker earned more than $1,000 less than she did in 2007.
Today, in America, the
wealthiest country in the history of the world, more than half of older
workers have no retirement savings - zero - while millions of elderly
and people with disabilities are trying to survive on $12,000 or
$13,000 a year. From Vermont to California, older workers are scared to
death. “How will I retire with dignity?,” they ask?
Actually, with one of
the best M.A. degrees in psychology ever awarded, and living in
Holland, I have never earned a single cent due to my
degrees , and am mostly like the "millions of elderly and people with
disabilities are trying to survive on $12,000 or $13,000 a year": I am 65, have disabilities since I
was 28, never got any help because of them either, and receive
slightly more than $ 13,000, but less than the minimal Dutch pension.
In 1944, in his State of
the Union speech, President Roosevelt outlined what he called a second
Bill of Rights. This is one of the most important speeches ever made by
a president but, unfortunately, it has not gotten the attention that it
In that remarkable speech
this is what Roosevelt stated, and I quote: “We have come to a clear
realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist
without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not
free men.” End of quote. In other words, real freedom must include
economic security. That was Roosevelt’s vision 70 years ago. It is my
vision today. It is a vision that we have not yet achieved. It is time
that we did.
Actually, I have that
speech of Roosevelt somewhere on my hard disk. I agree it was
important, and I also agree it did not get the attention it deserves.
I'll try to find it and put it in Nederlog, but not today.
I agree that the system in
America is both very corrupt and very unfair, and the
rest of Sanders criticism is also quite correct - but again I don't
think that the attempts by Sanders and others to reform the system
(which I think is very badly needed) and make it far less
corrupt and far more fair are necessarily described as
"democratic socialism", though indeed some of these attemps may be.
means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the
means that we must reform a political system in America today which is
not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.
It is a system, for
example, which during the 1990s allowed Wall Street to spend $5 billion
in lobbying and campaign contributions to get deregulated. Then, ten
years later, after the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior of
Wall Street led to their collapse, it is a system which provided
trillions in government aid to bail them out. Wall Street used their
wealth and power to get Congress to do their bidding for deregulation
and then, when their greed caused their collapse, they used their
wealth and power to get Congress to bail them out. Quite a system!
More below. First, there is this:
I am strongly
for a tuition free university, and indeed that system also did exist in
Holland, but has since been radically changed: University now is quite
expensive in Holland as well, and gives much less education
than I received (about half as much for "the same" degree), which again
was considerably less than the Dutch intelligentsia received between
1865 and 1965 (when money was also needed to study).
means that, in the year 2015, a college degree is equivalent to what a
high school degree was 50 years ago - and that public education must
allow every person in this country, who has the ability, the
qualifications and the desire, the right to go to a public colleges or
university tuition free. This is also not a radical idea. It exists
today in many countries around the world. In fact, it used to exist in
the United States.
Democratic socialism means
that our government does everything it can to create a full employment
Next and last, there is this, which is
So the next time you hear
me attacked as a socialist, remember this:
I don’t believe
government should own the means of production, but I do believe that
the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of
America deserve a fair deal.
I believe in private
companies that thrive and invest and grow in America instead of
shipping jobs and profits overseas.
I believe that most
Americans can pay lower taxes - if hedge fund managers who make
billions manipulating the marketplace finally pay the taxes they should.
I don’t believe in
special treatment for the top 1%, but I do believe in equal treatment
for African-Americans who are right to proclaim the moral principle
that Black Lives Matter.
I despise appeals to
nativism and prejudice, and I do believe in immigration reform that
gives Hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life.
I like all of this,
and especially this bit:
I don’t believe
government should own the means of production (...)
Then again, as
explained in my "On Socialism" that is the
main reason (there are others) why I do not
call myself a socialist, and indeed also the main reason why I could not
admit (since I had been there in 1964) that the Soviet Union and its
surrounding "socialist states" were socialist: the governments
in effect owned everything there was to own, and to me that was much
more state capitalism than socialism (which besides was both
dictatorial and totalitarian).
Then again, there are
considerable differences in the use of the term "socialism" in the USA
and in Europe, and I still like Bernie Sanders a lot, and indeed
especially because he is not corrupt and is fair, and as such is one of
the few leading politicians in the USA.
4. The ‘War on Terror’ Has Been Lost
And the speech was a good speech, and deserves full reading.
The fourth item today
is by Nat Parry on Consortium News:
This has the following
After 14 years, trillions
of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of people dead – with
violence expanding, not abating – perhaps it’s finally time to admit
that the Bush-Obama “War on Terror” has been lost and that a new
strategy addressing root causes is required, as Nat Parry describes.
Well... I agree that "the Bush-Obama “War on Terror” has been lost" and that it would be nice if a new
and better "strategy
addressing root causes"
were to arise but (1) neither Bush nor Obama nor most politicians agree
that the war has been lost, and (2) since the government and the
military make most policies, "the Bush-Obama “War on Terror”" will very probably continue.
Also this is a long
article, and I will not review it thoroughly. I pick out two bits, and
the first is this:
Despite some tactical
differences between the Bush and Obama administrations in the way the
war has been waged – with a preference now on drone assassinations, for
example, rather than full-scale invasions – the “War on Terror” has
essentially followed the same logic of pursuing something like total
victory by eliminating every terrorist no matter where they are, with
an unfortunately high tolerance for killing large numbers of innocent
bystanders in the process.
Any honest appraisal of
this effort would now conclude that the overall approach has borne out
just as badly as the most pessimistic critics asserted back in 2001 and
2002, when the foundation was being laid for what Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld later dubbed the
Again yes and no: Yes, I
agree with Nat Parry - but I also know that those making the war (Obama
and his generals, let's say, at present) do not agree with
Perhaps. In fact, I really
don't know. I tend to assume that "militaristic displays at sporting events, routine
scapegoating of Muslims, and the relinquishing of individual privacy
and civil liberties" are
weird, indeed in part because I did not see them most
of my life, but also because I think - based on reading a whole lot of
history - that at least the more intelligent are usually capable,
also under more severe circumstances than currently exist in the USA,
to see that none of the things I just quoted are normal, desirable, or
good for most.
Indeed, an entire
generation of young people has now come of age in the era of the “War
on Terror.” To put this into perspective: the 18-year-olds currently
enlisting in the United States Armed Forces and being deployed to
Afghanistan to fight the Taliban or being sent to Guantanamo to guard
the prisoners who continue to languish there were just preschoolers
when the Twin Towers came crashing down, and can scarcely remember a
time at which their country was not “at war.”
While many Americans might
still consider the not-so-new normal of war, militaristic displays at
sporting events, routine scapegoating of Muslims, and the relinquishing
of individual privacy and civil liberties to be somehow “weird,” to
millions of young people, there is nothing weird about it
Then again, Nat Parry might agree, and insist that there simply are not
many who are more intelligent than the average.
New Docs Reveal NSA Never Ended Bulk Email Collection, Just Hid It
fifth item today
is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
I say. Actually, while I did
not know this, I am not amazed at all, which I am not because I am
(still and since ten years) quite convinced that the main end
of the NSA (and perhaps even of the Iraq War) is to get all the
data they can get on anyone, in order to control them.
The National Security
Agency (NSA) secretly replaced its program monitoring Americans' emails
and moved it overseas before the operation was exposed by Edward
Snowden in 2013, according to new
NSA officials responded
to Snowden's leaks by stating that the email records program had shut
down in 2011—and in a way, it had. But newly
released documents show the agency had simply created a "functional
equivalent" that analyzed Americans' emails without collecting bulk
data from U.S. telecommunications companies, the New York Times
reported on Friday.
obtained a copy of the NSA inspector general's watchdog report through
a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The report appeared to
confirm that by moving its program outside of U.S. borders, the NSA was
able to take advantage of several intelligence laws to conduct its
surveillance operations with even less oversight and accountability
than it had previously.
So I am not amazed that the NSA shifted part of its operations outside
This is from the New York Times:
In brief: As long as the
NSA somewhere can tap all the important cables, and as long as
the traffic is not encrypted, the NSA can get all it likes virtually
anywhere, and if elsewhere than in the USA, also without any questions.
One passage lists four
reasons that the N.S.A. decided to end the email program and purge
previously collected data. Three were redacted, but the fourth was
uncensored. It said that “other authorities can satisfy certain foreign
intelligence requirements” that the bulk email records program “had
been designed to meet.”
The report explained that there were two
other legal ways to get such data. One was the collection of bulk data
that had been gathered in other countries, where the N.S.A.’s
activities are largely
not subject to regulation by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
and oversight by the intelligence court. Because of the way the
Internet operates, domestic data is often found on fiber optic cables
There is also this clarification:
The NSA's email
surveillance is different from the agency's phone record collection
program, which is set to expire
at the end of this month after a drawn-out legislative battle which
ended in June. The sunset means the NSA will expunge five years' worth
of metadata collected on millions of unsuspecting people, but
"technical personnel" will still be allowed to access the information
for an additional three months.
In brief: Your emails
are still collected and stored, and as far as the NSA is
concerned this will continue forever, from anywhere, without anyone
controlling of the NSA.
 I will return to this later. Here I merely note
that (1) The Guardian is one of the very few papers that does this, and
(2) it is quite extreme, technically speaking, for I do not know how to
use more, but that too I do not know, yet. More later.
Having two parent who were both communists for 45 years; who were both
in the communist resistance in WW II; whose father and his father were
arrested by the Nazis and convicted as "political terrorists" to
concentration camp imprisonment, that my grandfather did not survive;
and with my mother's family being anarchists and atheists since the
In fact, apart from my brother I do not know anyone with such a
Also, in part because the term "socialism" has been made (on purpose)
hateful to many Americans, I'd say "fairness" is the better
term than "socialism", also because it is a good way to discuss
the GOP: Is it fair that so many are so poor and so few so rich? Etc.
 This is very probably the outcome of (1) my own
radicalness (which goes back to being a son of my parents) (2) the
degenerates who held power in Holland and (3) my illness since
1.1.1979: If any of these had been absent, I probably would have gotten
a job in some university (probably a non-Dutch one).