March 12, 2016

Crisis: American "Justice", Scheer & Binney, Germany, Trump Is Mussolini
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The Seven Most Vitriolic Passages in DOJ’s Response to

2. Obama Wants Nonexistent Middle Ground on
     Encryption, Warns Against “Fetishizing Our Phones”

Robert Scheer Talks With William Binney About the
     iPhone and Blowing the Whistle on the NSA

4. Alone in Berlin: How Merkel Has Gambled Away Her EU

5. Trump’s not Hitler, he’s Mussolini


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, March 12, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 and item 2 are by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept, and I didn't like them much, for reasons explained by item 3, which is an excellent interview with William Binney (formerly of the NSA) by Robert Scheer; item 4 is about an also unsatisfactory article (by my criterions, of course) in Spiegel International; and item 5 is a fine article on the parallels between Trump and Mussolini, that also has a decent use of the term "anti-fascism". (My parents were strong anti-fascists, and I like to see the term used correctly, as it was in the article.)
1. The Seven Most Vitriolic Passages in DOJ’s Response to Apple

The first item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

In case there was ever any doubt, the Justice Department declared war on Apple on Thursday.

Prosecutors demanded that a federal judge force Apple to unlock San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone in a brief that bristled with so much venom that Apple’s top lawyer, Bruce Sewell, said it “reads like an indictment.”

I agree the U.S. government "declared war on Apple", but I don't much like this article, although it has the merit of supplying a link to the American "Justice" Departments text.

That indeed is the link, and it is to a pdf file of 451.2 Kb. It is well worth reading, and it certainly is the most intricate, false, dishonest system of lies and deceptions I have ever read that pretended to be a legal argument (and I am not a lawyer, but I have read rather a large amount of legal prose.)

Here is one bit from the article, that has six more similar bits:

3. When the DOJ accused Apple of subverting the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, and democracy:

Apple’s rhetoric is not only false, but also corrosive of the very institutions that are best able to safeguard our liberty and our rights: the courts, the Fourth Amendment, longstanding precedent and venerable laws, and the democratically elected branches of government.

In fact, this is one enormous lie, but the article does not point this out. See item 3 below for considerably more, by a real expert on security.

However, the end is correct:

Sewell, Apple’s senior vice president of legal and global security, was outraged.

“In 30 years of practice, I don’t think I’ve seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case,” he said.

But again, the reasons are not explained in this article: Again see item 3 below.

2. Obama Wants Nonexistent Middle Ground on Encryption, Warns Against “Fetishizing Our Phones”

The second item is also by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

President Barack Obama says he wants strong encryption, but not so strong that the government can’t get in.

“The question we now have to ask technologically is if it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there is no key, there is no door at all?” he asked, speaking at the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin on Friday.

“Then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot? What mechanisms do we have available to do even simple things like tax enforcement? If in fact you can’t crack that all, if the government can’t get in, then everybody is walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket. There has to be some concession to the need to be able to get into that information somehow.”

It was Obama’s first extended disquisition on the contentious issue of encryption.
And it was sick, immoral and degenerate, but indeed that is what I have come to expect from Obama, and especially with regards to security i.e. the desires
of the holders of power in the USA to know absolutely everything about absolutely everyone (but themselves and their secret servicemen).

Here is the basic problem:

Obama insisted that there is a middle ground. “My conclusion so far is that you cannot take an absolutist view on this,” he said. “If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it’s fetishizing our phones above every other value. And that can’t be the right answer.”

But the problem is that you can’t have strong encryption without it being unbreakable.

Precisely - and besides: "the kind of balance" the USA is supposed to "have lived with for 200, 300 years" has precisely been completely turned around by computers that enable spying on everyone and finding out everything about them: These possibilities were completely unknown till 50 years ago.

And you must be willing to fetish your cellphone, your computer and your human rights if you want to prevent a fascist takeover by some fascistic government - Trump's? - whose fascistic NSA supermen can glean everything about anyone, and who can easily bring most to suicide by - completely in secret, of course - "Denying / Disrupting / Degrading / Deceiving" them, possibly with the help of a secret FISA-court, that also forbids them to say anything to anyone. [1]

But not at all according to Obama: Trust him, trust the liars from the NSA, trust Michael Hayden, trust John Brennan and absolutely nothing will ever happen to you (that is, of course: if you always have the correct kinds of thoughts any future government desires).

Next, here is William Binney, who explains why the first two sections today were devoted to liars and deceivers:

3. Robert Scheer Talks With William Binney About the iPhone and Blowing the Whistle on the NSA

The third item is b
y Robert Scheer (<- Wikipedia) and is a fine interview with William Binney (<- Wikipedia) who headed the NSA's encryption team until 2001:
This starts with the following summary:

Binney spent over 30 years at the National Security Agency as a high-ranked official and left in 2002 after criticizing the agency’s system for collecting data on Americans.

In their conversation, Binney explains why he thinks the government is overreaching with Apple in its attempt to access data from a cellphone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Binney talks about how the NSA is now overwhelmed with data, doesn’t need nearly as much as it is collecting, and how there are other ways to get the data it is looking for without invading most Americans’ privacy.

This is the beginning of the interview - and you either believe Binney, who has no interest in knowing everything about everyone, or you believe Obama and his Department of "Justice" (proud inheritors of the sick injustice Eric Holder excelled in), but you just cannot believe both (and be consistent):

RS: Hi. Listen, what I’d like to begin with is, you know, [at] the moment Apple and Apple CEO Tim Cook are being scapegoated for endangering the national security because they would not do whatever the FBI wanted in breaking their encryption code and providing access to one of these San Bernardino killers. What do you make of this whole controversy? Is it real? Is it, does our national security require breaking into our personal codes on our phone, and what’s your assessment?

WB: Yeah, first of all, I think the FBI got into the phone and changed the password and they messed it up in the process, [Laughs] and so they’re asking Apple to fix up their mistake. So, but that’s part of the problem; the real issue, though, is they want Apple to generate software that would let them go into the phone and basically figure out, do a mass attack and get the password to break in and get all the data off the phone. The problem with that is—and this is in the background—it’s really NSA and GCHQ and other intelligence agencies that want this to happen.

Yes, indeed. And the real issue is not at all about the one cellphone that was owned by a San Bernardino killer, who is dead: it is about everybody else that uses an iPhone, wherever he or she may live, whether in China, in Turkey or the USA (boldings added by me, and this is still William Binney):

So if Apple did that, and put that code together and gave it to the government or got hacked by some other government or some hacker or something, and the code got out, then those people could access any device, any iPhone in the world anywhere through the network and attack it. So really, the whole idea here is that the FBI wants to know everything about you, and you’re not supposed to know anything about them.

Precisely - and so do Obama and his Department of "Justice". There also is a deep irony here:

Now, as I recall, you know, back when our founders created this nation, I mean, I thought the whole idea was the reverse relationship was supposed to be [Laughs] what we had. That is, we were supposed to know what our government was doing on our behalf, and they were supposed to not know what we were doing unless they had probably cause to do so.

Precisely - but that has all been totally inverted since 9/11/2001, which means that since then the USA's governments (all four that existed since then) has been doing completely the opposite of what the Constitution prescribes, and has been covered by a very conservative SCOTUS, that made highly political decisions that had little to do with the ordinary meanings [2] of ordinary legal terms, and everything with extra-ordinary meanings of the same terms that were propounded by diverse government speakers and their lawyers.

Here are the reasons why Obama and the Department of "Justice" are lying themselves blue in the face:

RS: (...) what do you make of the argument that Apple has prevented the FBI from doing its work?

WB: Well, I just think that’s a false issue. I mean, very simply, they could go into the NSA bases, which they have direct access to, and they can go in and query the data that they want out of those bases. I mean, or they could go into any of the ISPs, telecommunications companies, and get the data there. Or they can actually go into the, scrape the cloud, the Apple cloud that they use as a backup. So there’s many ways they can do that; I mean, other than that, they could give the phone to NSA and let them hack it. You know? Or, for example, they can copy the phone thousands of times and just start trying things, and do a brute force over thousands of copies. You know, there’s any number of ways they can do things; they just, they want to make it easy on themselves, and they want to claim a false issue to get everybody to believe what they’re telling them.

This is why the Deparment of "Justice"'s submission to the court is one long litany of lies and deceptions. And beneath these very many lies and deceptions there is an extremely serious threat to absolutely everyone living anywhere who has an iPhone:

RS:  Well, that’s the real threat here; that’s the Orwellian threat. I mean, here’s Apple basically saying, look, we can’t function as a multinational corporation selling these phones around the world if we let you guys crack our encryption codes in this really, basically, minimal protection of the privacy of individuals. They’re going to want to do it in China and then, you know, they’re going to want to do it everywhere else where we sell phones, so you know, we have to be loyal—this is the great obligation and, indeed, contradiction of being a multinational corporation; you have to protect your consumers all around the world from their governments. Therefore, you can’t let your government just, you know, go willy-nilly into the codes.

To which it may be added that there are no fully democratic governments; that most politicians excel in just two things: lying and greed; and that it is a historical fact that state-terrorists - the officials from the secret police, the police and the military - have murdered far more persons than non-state- terrorists, by an enormously wide margin also. (And see note [1].)

As to Apple, Robert Scheer correctly points out that, in the end:

RS:  They’re doing it for profit motive, but nonetheless, they’re saying that you can’t really use these gadgets and the World Wide Web to do all these very personal transactions, financial transactions, medical records and everything, if the customers throughout the world don’t feel a considerable degree of privacy. Private space and certainly immunity from government surveillance, the Orwellian nightmare that the government knows everything about you.
Yes, indeed, although I am afraid speakers of the last four American governments - really - think quite differently: They seem to think that everyone who belongs to the ordinary public and did not make several tens of millions of dollars just doesn't count, and should be treated as if he or she were something like a slave about which the supermen in the government (or Google or Facebook) deserve to know absolutely everything about.

Here is William Binney about what the American government and its Department of "Justice" are doing (with my bolding added):

WB: Well, it’s getting back to what I think I started out with. For example, let me use your phone. Suppose you take your phone and you’re driving down the streets in L.A., or you take a trip somewhere around the world or something. They probably already have the SIM card that’s in that phone, which means they can access your phone directly through the network. So that if Apple developed software that would allow them to break in to get past that password you have, protecting your data on that phone, then they could remotely dial in and do that, and break into your phone as you moved around, and take all that data off your phone without you knowing. So that’s the point; that seems to me to be their point, that’s really what they want to do with all the iPhones in the world.

RS: So that, and that’s something the Chinese government could do, the Egyptian government?

WB: Yeah, sure, yeah.
But Obama and the NSA want it, for they want to know everything anyone does or says.

Here is William Binney's expectation of the American future:

RS:  Stasi as in the German secret police of East Germany, at the worst moments of—

WB: As in the German—yeah—I’ve gotten a lot of flak from different people over in England, too, about that. And I said, well, look at what’s going on. The Stasi had these—I went through the Stasi museum over there, which was Stasi headquarters with all the files and everything. And there’s just row after row of all these folders on individuals and all the handwritten and paper information about them that was stored in these little folders. Well, NSA has all this digitally stored. So the difference is, it’s digitally stored, it’s more complete, it’s more timely, and it’s in a much more minable storage process. So I call them the new Stasi agency. And I always refer back to Wolfgang Schmidt, a former lieutenant colonel in the East German Stasi, who said about the NSA program, he said, “For us, this would have been a dream come true.”

I think that is an accurate statement, and in the end one of my main reasons to believe so is this:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
 Great men are almost always bad men."

   -- Lord Acton

Obama and the American Department of "Justice" are trying their damnedest to
get far more power than anyone ever had. Their ends are fundamentally corrupt and evil, but they may succeed.

For more, see the item on Frank Church in the Wikipedia.

4. Alone in Berlin: How Merkel Has Gambled Away Her EU Power

The fourth item is b
y a committee of journalists on Spiegel International:

This is another article by a committee of journalists on Spiegel, and I like it as little as the previous article in Spiegel, that was also written by a committee, and that I reviewed here.

I take it that Spiegel now doesn't want refugees in Germany, and certainly no more than there are at present, and perhaps also that the refugees who have arrived are mostly not legitimate - and I have to say this is my interpretation, for Spiegel probably doesn't quite like to put it as I did.

Here they are on chancellor Merkel:

The chancellor has played a variety of roles in Brussels throughout her career. She began as a clumsy novice, but as a result of the euro crisis she ultimately became the most powerful leader in Europe. Now, however, she has isolated Germany in the European Union to a greater degree than any chancellor before her.

Well... she did insist initially on a point of principle that seems to have escaped the attention of this journalistic committee: Refugees from war ought to be helped by the inhabitants of other countries.

I think she was right on the principle. What she may have forgotten is that there
are tens, and possibly hundreds of millions of people, who do not live in Europe who would want to live there, and that Europe is not large enough to provide a living space for all or most of them.

But what Merkel's people describe as rectitude, the rest of Europe sees as an attempt to spread the costs of her noble-minded blunder across the entire European Union. The fences that have now been built do not just prevent refugees from moving through the Continent -- they're also symbolic of resistance to German presumption.

I say. Again, she was right on the principle that refugees from wars should be helped, and that was also not a "blunder". Again, she also was right in supposing that if Europe is unified and integrated - which it supposedly is, since 2002 - the Europeans, and not just the Germans, should participate in helping the refugees from wars.

But she probably was mistaken in the amounts of unification and integration that really happened, and the fences that are now being build on many places are a sign of that: Few European politicians are willing to help refugees from wars, except verbally, and if it doesn't cost any money, or very little.

And there is this:

Merkel failed to realize soon enough just how little Europe was willing to accept. The price for her policies is not just the rise of a new right-wing populist party in Germany and a German society that is more divided and disgruntled than it has been in years. She also created a Europe that is no longer united.

In brief, in so far as I understand this, the committee of journalists from Spiegel
blames the present German chancellor for being principled, and wants a new one that is more elastic.

There is considerably more in the article.

5. Trump’s not Hitler, he’s Mussolini

The fifth and last item today is b
y Fedja Buric on Salon:
This starts as follows:
In an interview with Slate, the historian of fascism Robert Paxton warns against describing Donald Trump as fascist because “it’s almost the most powerful epithet you can use.” But in this case, the shoe fits. And here is why.

Like Mussolini, Trump rails against intruders (Mexicans) and enemies (Muslims), mocks those perceived as weak, encourages a violent reckoning with those his followers perceive as the enemy within (the roughing up of protesters at his rallies), flouts the rules of civil political discourse (the Megyn Kelly menstruation spat), and promises to restore the nation to its greatness not by a series of policies, but by the force of his own personality (“I will be great for” fill in the blank).  

To quote Paxton again, this time from his seminal “The Anatomy of Fascism”: “Fascist leaders made no secret of having no program.”
Fedja Buric is an assistant professor of history in the USA, but comes from Yugoslavia, as he says himself in this article.

I think he is mostly correct, and this is a recommended article, but I want to say something about being called "a (dirty) fascist", since I have extensive experiences with being called "a (dirty) fascist":

I have been called one for 12 years, from 1977 till 1989, in the University of Amsterdam, from which I also was removed briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy there, and denied the right of taking it, while I also was seriously ill. [3]

And while I do not recall how many times anymore - between 30 and 120 times, I guess, all in all - this was painful because my grandfather was murdered in a German concentration camp, and my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months of four German concentration camps, both because they were in the communist resistance against the Nazis. (Few Dutchmen resisted.)

What were my crimes in the UvA? These: I was not a Marxist; I was pro science; I was pro truth; and I was anti-ASVA - and the ASVA was a student- party that from 1971-1995 had the absolute power in the University of Amsterdam, and was filled with (pseudo-)communists (till 1984) and post- modernists (till 1995). [4]

Nobody who called me "a fascist" (and also "a terrorist", in 1988) seemed to have felt shy about using "
the most powerful epithet you can use"; nobody who called me "a fascist" had any idea about my anti-fascism or the very strong anti-fascistic background of my family; and nobody who called me "a fascist" (or "terrorist") knew anything about me (which I didn't tell them because my parents were still alive, and still members - since the 1930ies or early 40ies - of the Dutch communist party).

I know this is just the story of one man, but I suffered a lot because I was deemed "a fascist" (and "a terrorist", already in 1988), not because of these
terms, but because these terms justified the fascistic abuse that was committed against me, such as being removed from the University of Amsterdam for speaking the truth about the scandalous "education" I (and everybody else) were offered, that insisted - from 1978 till 1995 - that "everybody knows that there is no truth" and "everybody knows that everyone has the same value as anyone else" (in a country were more than 100.000 Jews were murdered for being of the wrong race, with a lot of Dutch help also).

Back to the article. There is this on the parallel between Trump and Mussolini:

Like Mussolini, Trump is dismissive of democratic institutions.  He selfishly guards his image of a self-made outsider who will “dismantle the establishment” in the words of one of his supporters.  That this includes cracking down on a free press by toughening libel laws, engaging in the ethnic cleansing of 11 million people (“illegals”), stripping away citizenship of those seen as illegitimate members of the nation (children of the “illegals”), and committing war crimes in the protection of the nation (killing the families of suspected terrorists) only enhances his stature among his supporters.  The discrepancy between their love of America and these brutal and undemocratic methods does not bother them one iota.  To borrow from Paxton again: “Fascism was an affair of the gut more than of the brain.”
Yes, indeed. And here is Fedja Buric on the value of a historical analogy:
Thus, for a historical analogy to be useful to us, it has to advance our understanding of the present.  And the Trumpism-Fascism axis (pun intended) does this in three ways: it explains the origins of Trump the demagogue; it enables us to read the Trump rally as a phenomenon in its own right; and it allows those of us who are unequivocally opposed to hate, bigotry, and intolerance, to rally around an alternative, equally historical, program: anti-fascism.
I agree, and this is a recommended article.

[1] Here is the reference for what the NSA and the GCHQ intend to do with anyone who does not have the ideas the government wishes them to have:

And here is - once again - Frank Church's prescient warning of 1975:

[2] The point about different meanings (those in the ordinary dictionaries, and those used by the American governments) is explained (briefly) here.

[3] In the end, this also is the reason why I am an M.A. in psychology: Because I was denied the right of taking an M.A. in philosophy. (And no: The UvA simply refuses since 20 years to answer my mails and my letters, and nobody cares but me.)

[4] And all of that goes back to the absolutely unique historical fact that all Dutch universities were given effectively to the students in 1971, who had thereby the absolute power in all Dutch universities, until this was again taken from them, in 1995. I quote Note 4 from March 2, 2016:
This is one of the facts that makes any discussion of politics and education in Holland the last 45 years (since 1971) completely inunderstandable to almost any foreigner, but yes it is a fact that all the Dutch universities were given to the students in 1971 by a ministerial parliamentary approved decision, and they remained in the students' hands until 1995 (when they were removed by a similar process).

It is also a fact that the students had the absolute majority always in these years, and that all the Dutch universities in these years were ruled by parliaments that were yearly elected (also on faculty level) by ordinary majority of votes, in which all students had 1 vote, all professors and all lecturers had 1 vote, and all doormen, toilet cleaners and part-time secretaries had 1 vote. (For "everybody in Holland is of equal value as everybody else".)

Finally - in this very brief sum-up - it is also a fact that the Dutch universities were all these years thoroughly corrupt, and that very many students (now nearly all neoconservative academics, who are all much richer than I am) got their degrees almost without doing anything.
I leave it at that for the moment, and only remark that since 1995 the years from 1971 till 1995 of the Dutch universities are not - I repeat: NOT - discussed in any way in Holland.

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