crisis blog. There are 6 items with 7 dotted links: Item
1 is about Clapper, who complained about encryption; item
2 is about Seymour Hersh on Obama; item 3 is
about the real Hillary Clinton and is good (but I don't agree with
everything); item 4 is about Bernie Sanders,
complete with slightly over 10 minutes of video; item 5
is about a burning river: it is possible, thanks to Australian fracking
(and includes a link to a video); and item 6 is
about something that I have been holding for 11 years now: The
surveillance isn't done to catch terrorists: it is and
now will be done to catch any
kind of criminals (including - of course (and if not now than soon) - thought crimes, hate speech,
politically incorrect speech, and speech the government dislikes,
distrusts or fears, or so I think), for that is what some
American "secret court" decided: Every American's cellphone and
computer get tapped because he or she "might be" a terrorist; and now
the FBI gets - warrantless, without any oversight - access to all
that these "terrorists" (everyone who is an American) wrote and said, to see
whether the FBI approves. Congratulations, America!
1. Spy Chief
Complains That Edward Snowden Sped Up Spread of
Encryption by 7 Years
first item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The
This starts as follows (under a
photograph of a considerably older and fatter looking Clapper):
THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE on Monday
blamed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for advancing the development
of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption.
“As a result of the Snowden revelations, the
onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years,” James
Clapper said during a breakfast for journalists hosted by the Christian
The shortened timeline has had “a profound effect
on our ability to collect, particularly against terrorists,” he said.
When pressed by The Intercept to
explain his figure, Clapper said it came from the National Security
Agency. “The projected growth maturation and installation of
commercially available encryption — what they had forecasted for seven
years ahead, three years ago, was accelerated to now, because of the
revelation of the leaks.”
I say. And I agree with Clapper that "the
Snowden revelations" accelerated the development of "commercial
encryption". But that is about the extent of my agreements with him,
for the "seven years" are NSA-information (which I distrust unless
there is independent evidence) while I simply do not know by
how much this really did have an "effect
on our ability to collect, particularly against terrorists".
Also, as to his claim that the NSA is fighting "particularly
First, if they had wanted to do that, they should have followed,
already in 2001, William Binney's (<- Wikipedia) program, that did follow terrorists
and suspects of terrorists, and no one else. But - I am convinced,
since 2005, and see item 6 below - that
"terrorists" were only the pretext to start stealing everything
of everybody's private data, and when I say "everything" and
"everybody" that is what I mean.
Second, I also tend to believe that this pretext served to
make the NSA far more intrusive, and therefore far more dangerous, than
any other spying organization, although this is a bit less certain. 
Third, and in any case, the NSA and the
Eyes - the secret services of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Great
Britain, together with the NSA - are by far the best informed
secret services in what so far still are (supposedly) "democracies", since these
secret services collected very much more information on absolutely
everyone of their inhabitants, and also on the billions who are
not their inhabitants, than was ever gathered by the KGB
and the Stasi.
Fourth, I also believe - and again see item 6 -
that all this information was collected and stored with a purpose,
which I will formulate here as "knowledge is power".
As to encryption, here is Clapper's opinion on it:
Asked if that was a good thing, leading to better
protection for American consumers from the arms race of hackers
constantly trying to penetrate software worldwide, Clapper answered no.
“From our standpoint, it’s not … it’s not a good
thing,” he said.
I think he spoke the truth. But let me articulate what
is behind that truth, which in fact amounts to the thesis that the NSA far
rather gave all possibilities to hackers to fuck up
anybody's system than not being able to download everything there is on
anybody's computers and cellphones.
He is so much concerned with security!
"Horrified": Seymour Hersh Reacts to Obama's Plan to Send 250 More U.S.
Special Ops Troops to Syria
The second item is
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
President Obama has announced the
deployment of 250 more Special Operations troops to Syria in a move
that nearly doubles the U.S. presence in the country. This comes just
days after the Obama administration announced 217 more troops would be
sent to Iraq to help in the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic
State. As the U.S. expands its presence in Iraq and Syria, we speak
with the legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who has just
published a new book titled "The Killing of Osama bin Laden." In the
introduction, Hersh writes: "It’s now evident, fifteen years after the
9/11 attacks, that Obama’s foreign policy has maintained many of the
core elements of the Global War on Terror initiated by his
predecessor—assassinations, drone attacks, heavy reliance on special
forces, covert operations and, in the case of Afghanistan, the
continued use of American ground forces in combat. And, as in the years
of Bush and Cheney, there has been no progress, let alone victory, in
the fight against terrorism."
indeed - and in case you don't know who is Seymour Hersh, this is a link
to the Wikipedia on him -: Obama's government was little else than a
repeat of the Bush government, at least in so far as foreign police and
military violence were
concerned. (You may disagree: Please read on.)
There is this on Seymour Hersh's information and definite knowledge -
should remember that he is one of the best informed journalists, who
also is a
journalist since the 1960ies, and that the U.S.A. is still supposed to
be a democracy i.e. governed by and for the people:
SEYMOUR HERSH: And I
understand what the president is doing, why he wants to engage more.
But, you know, it’s not my call. I would also—I’ve been told there are
many more forces in Iraq than we’re publicly announcing, including even
some elements of one of our airborne divisions. What the hell? As
usual, we don’t really know what the game plan is. I do not understand
why he’s decided to jump into a war that was being run by—it’s being
won right now by the Syrian army and its allies, including Russia. I
just—I can just speculate that our anti-Putin, anti-Russian instinct in
America continues apace. That’s all.
The main sentence in that bit seems to me: "As
usual, we don’t really know what the game plan is."
And the reason for that is that almost everything the
USA does militarily has been made a secret - which indeed might be
in some cases, but not (in a democracy) to the extent Bush and Obama
pushed it, which is essentially "the public must be satisfied with our
Finally, there is this on Obama and his presidency. I think the
following is fair:
SEYMOURHERSH: Well, it’s
amazing. Look, you win
the presidency—hope and peace, or whatever it was—and you discover,
because of—you know, you don’t have the power you might dream you would
have. You can’t get a lot of things done, because you’ve got a very
hostile Congress. And so—and presidents, inevitably, in
frustration—look, I’ve been in this town since the '60s. There's
nothing more wonderful for a president—you can feel more like a
president by taking a walk with somebody from the Special Operations
community or, earlier, the CIA in the Rose
Garden, and getting rid of somebody you don’t like, whether you’re—in
the case of—what we do now is we do targeted assassinations. Earlier, I
think we just moved them out of office or did operations, you know,
political operations. But now it’s really just, you know, we hit
people. You know, there’s a weekly meeting in which they go through
names of people to target, assassinate, including, in some cases, an
American, without any due process. It’s been a wonderful movement. I
don’t mean to be too sarcastic about it, but what—you know, this guy
ended up in the same place in far too many times, as you read and as I
wrote, as Bush and Cheney were.
First, I definitely agree with the
conclusion: Obama "ended up in the same place in
far too many times, as you read and as I
wrote, as Bush and Cheney were".
Second, the explanation of that fact consists of several claims:
(1) Obama lied a great lot in his campaign: Essentially, everything he
his presidential campaign was intended to get
him elected, and while most
who elected him believed him, he never had the
intention to do what he
said in his presidential campaign.
(2) Obama very probably did also find out, very early in his presidency
that he had considerably fewer real powers
than he had thought he would
(3) Not only that: It is also true that he had "a
(4) According to Hersh, Obama's policies in part depend on the
the pleasures) of power: Unlike former US presidents, he
now can decide every
Tuesday who he is going to order to be
assassinated by drones (including some
Americans): This stresses his personal powers
and provides a kick.
I have written this out a bit more carefully than Hersh did (who was
interviewed) but I think this is what he meant, and I accept
Also, this is a fine interview (and there are some more with Hersh on
of Democracy Now!), with considerably more: Recommended.
Before starting on this article, which is
quite good, I have a question to which I do not know
the answer: What happened to Chris Hedges?!
The reason I ask is that I have been used since a long time to find an
Monday morning on Truthdig by Chris Hedges, which I mostly review
because I like his articles, both stylistically and as regards contents. (I
don't always agree with
the contents - thus I am an atheist from a family of atheists, while
Hedges is a Christian minister who doesn't believe in atheists, and I
do not as strongly believe in Marx as Hedges seems to - but I do like
I did not find anything this Monday or Tuesday, and
that includes some explanation.
Having for the moment settled that issue, here is my review of the
article that I did find, that starts as follows, and is indeed good:
Recently in the presidential
campaign, Hillary Clinton supporters
have complained vociferously that Bernie Sanders is being too
critical. In reality, he’s been far too polite. He’s obviously
uncomfortable insulting his opponent, shooting from the hip, using
sarcasm instead of facts. Clinton’s comfort zone is all of that. Her
sarcasm slops over the brim, and facts vanish like so much fairy dust.
She dismisses the effective Sanders, with the solid progressive agenda,
as a dreamer, while she, the proud warrior, paints herself as the
Yes, indeed. And as to Hillary Clinton, my
position is - roughly - this:
Fundamentally, she is a political fraud, like her husband,
though I admit that as frauds, and in terms of money and
power, they were also wild personal successes
in terms of what they said, whom they convinced, and how much money
they got for themselves (starting also from virtually nothing).
And like her husband, she is fundamentally a fraud for the banks,
who also contribute(d) most of the money she made for herself and for
her campaign coffers. And while I think her husband is intellectually,
and probably also personally, considerably more talented than she is, I
grant neither is insane, and that both are intelligent, and that both may be seen as very
successful right-wing Democrats - which incidentally also means
that by now they are no longer real democrats, for they are mostly acting for
the rich, who gave them millions upon millions to work for them: they
are more like plutocrats than like democrats (though indeed they head the "Democratic
As to the very many millions the Clintons received, both for themselves
and for their campaigns, here is an illustration from The Young Turks:
This starts with those paying 4 millions or more, on the top. Those lower down paid less. (You may
say this is no evidence of corruption. I laugh in reply.)
Here is some about Hillary's honesty about gun-control:
Here is some about Hillary's honesty about
supporting the corporations:
Not only is Clinton not the
claims to be, she has consistently supported
the agenda of corporations wishing to overrule government decisions
(witness her strong previous support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
which gives corporations exactly that power).
Here is some about Hillary's honesty about
her foreign policies:
“You were against same sex marriage.
Now you’re for it. You defended Obama’s immigration policies. Now you
say they’re too harsh.You’ve supported trade deals dozens of times.
Even called them the gold standard. Now suddenly you’re against it.
Will you say anything to get elected?”
I have seen Hillary Clinton cry only
once. The country loved her for that moment of vulnerability. I could
understand it. The year was 2008, and she cried when she lost the
It takes less to bring me to tears. I
cry when I think of her winning this one.
I take it that there is very little Hillary
Clinton won't say if she believes this would increase her chances of
being elected. (But in this she is like many politicians.)
What I - probably - do not agree with is the implication that
progressives, or liberals, or democrats (with a small "d") should not
vote for Clinton - if there is only a choice between Clinton as
president or Trump or Cruz as president:
I don't like her; I think she is fundamentally a political fraud (and a
hugely successful one); I think her real loyalties are to those who
paid her but I also think she is not a
lunatic (as I fear Trump is, and that is apart from his crazy sayings
and plans) and also
she is not an extreme rightist destroyer of government (as Cruz
If all you can choose for is either Clinton or Trump or Cruz,
Sanders May Endorse Clinton, but He Won’t Campaign for Her Unless She
Does This One Thing (Video)
The fourth item is by Natasha Hakimi
Zapata on Truthdig:
If Hillary Clinton becomes the
nominee, Bernie Sanders’ support and that of his voters may depend on
her doing the one thing that her track record shows she’s been most
unwilling to do all along: stand up to American oligarchs. Watch the
Vermont senator and actor Danny Glover explain the importance of
political revolution on The Real
News Network, as well as ideas to create employment that go beyond
tax programs to a New Deal-style federal jobs program.
And here is the video:
This is an excellent video from The Real News, that
takes 11 m 54 s.
Sets Methane-Laden River on Fire to Protest Fracking The fifth item is
by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (under a picture of
the burning Condamine River in Queensland, which is pretty impressive):
An Australian elected official set fire
to a river in Queensland this weekend in an act of protest against the
coal seam gas industry, stating that fracking causes methane to seep
into the river.
In a video posted to his official
Facebook page, Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham can be seen leaning over the
side of an aluminum boat on the Condamine River, touching a barbecue
lighter to the water and setting it instantly ablaze.
Buckingham recoils. "A river on fire!
Don't let it burn the boat."
"This is the future of Australia if we
do not stop the frackers, who want to spread across all states and
territories," Buckingham says in the video, which subsequently went
viral, hitting 3.3 million views by Monday morning. "The fracking [is]
just a kilometer [.62 miles] away, methane coming up and now the river
In fact, I found the video Jeffrey
It is well worth seeing, and indeed is
a river on fire.
And there is this in the article:
The flames reportedly took an hour to
Despite the flammability of the water,
the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines has claimed
that there is "no apparent safety risk in the immediate area of the
seeps" and "no apparent evidence of environmental harm that can be
attributed to the present gas seeps."
Incidentally, these Australians sound just
like the Amsterdam fascist bureaucratic beast who was sent to inspect
the chimney and the holes in the wall, that were hacked to remove three
sacks of stones from my chimney, in 1988: When he was at my place he refused
to look at anything; what he reported in writing was
that "nothing can be seen, on the first eye" (literal
Two and a half years later (!!) it was established with a smoke test
that the house in which I had been already gassed in August of 1988 had
been mortally dangerous because of coal monoxide from 1988 till 1992.
Court Takes Another Bite Out of the Fourth Amendment
The sixth and last item is
by Cindy Cohn on Truth-out and originally
on the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Defenders of the NSA's mass
spying have lost an important talking point: that the erosion of our
privacy and associational rights is justified given the focus of
surveillance efforts on combating terrorism and protecting the national
security. That argument has always been dubious for a number of
reasons. But after a November
2015 ruling [.pdf] by the secretive Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court (FISC) was unsealed last week, it's lost another
chunk of its credibility. The ruling confirms that NSA's warrantless
spying has been formally approved for use in general criminal
investigations. The national security justification has been entirely
Quite so! And indeed I have been
saying this: that "terrorism" was a mere pretext, and that what the
NSA (and the Five Eyes) were really after was (i) to know everything about anyone, (ii) which would make them, in conjunction with the
government and most of the courts, very
much more powerful than the Communist Party in the former Soviet Union,
because (iii) they know vastly more about anyone, and can thus could Deny/Disrupt/Degrade or Deceive (all in secret) anyone, and also (iv)
at a later stage force everyone to think what the government desires them to think, or
to be disappeared without a peep.
I thought this in 2005 (Dutch link) when I first heard about all the
anti-democratic changes imposed by minister Donner on Holland "to fight
terrorists", and eleven years later I still think the same, but with eleven more years of documentation and of steep democratic
declines, both in Europe and in the USA.
So once again: Your computer data and your cellphone data - whoever you
are, wherever you live - are almost certainly stolen from you by the
NSA or the GCHQ or one of the other secret services that belong to the
Five Eyes; they are put in a dossier
with your name and probably many more data about you than you could
recall, and now
it turns out that all these data are - also - made available for "general
without any warrant or any oversight, to the various police forces
(secret and non-secret) that keep the USA save for the rich (sorry:
"everybody" - though especially WASP rich).
Here is what happened in more detail:
That's because the secret court,
over the objection of its hand-selected amicus, determined that once
information is collected by the NSA for "foreign intelligence" purposes
under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, that information can be
searched by the FBI for regular criminal investigations without any
need for a warrant or prior court oversight. Although the FISC has
signed off on the FBI's procedures claiming this authority for years,
this ruling from late 2015 may be the first time the FISC has actually
considered their legality.
Section 702 is the law that the
government uses to conduct two massive NSA programs: access to
communications as they travel the Internet backbone (called Upstream)
and access to communications stored with service providers like Google
and Facebook (called Prism).
I am very sorry, but "the law" that
"justified" Upstream and Prism was a fascist law, and fascist
laws are not recognized by me: A purported democracy where
services have secret access to everyone's cellphone and everyone's
computer is no longer a democracy, and is extremely
dangerous to anyone who disagrees with the government. 
The court questioned whether it's
constitutional for the FBI to query NSA
intelligence databases to find information to use against Americans in
regular criminal investigations unrelated to national security.
Government lawyers suggested that "targeting"
procedures erase the harm that surveillance causes to Fourth Amendment
principles, though we've explained
why those procedures impose inadequate
limits and allow unconstitutional spying to continue. We're
also reminded of Justice Roberts' recent observation:
"the Founders did not fight a revolution to gain the right to
government agency protocols."
I am not quite sure whether I got what is
conveyed here, but it seems to amount to
yet another set of lawyerly redefinitions of terms that in their
ordinary meanings oppose what the lawyers want to say: Such
redefinitions are lies. You cannot redefine a word
- for the purposes of legal argument - so that it says what you
mean if your redefinition contradicts or is not supported by the
meaning it has according to accepted good dictionaries.
What you are proposing are simply - very dishonest and dirty - lies and
falsehoods that contradict accepted usage.
As to "the harm that surveillance causes
to Fourth Amendment principles": This is an example of the
lawyers' redefinitions of terms. For there is no "harm"
done to "principles": The Fourth Amendment forbids
the collection of everyone's data as if that were normal.  It is not
normal, it is not democratic, it is not legal, and it ought to be
This is a constitutional problem. Quite
apart from the bait and switch opportunities it creates for the FBI,
it's like saying it's OK for school officials to set up a drug testing
program for non-law enforcement purposes, and then once it's set up,
they can completely abandon that purpose and start testing students to
simply to put them in jail. Or that the government can set up a program
to test pregnant women for drugs with a goal to get them into
treatment, but also hand the information over to the police and use the
threat of prosecution as additional leverage.
Actually, I don't know whether this is a constitutional
problem. I do not think the American Constitution is a holy writ, and
it could be improved and extended, but no constitution is safe from governmental or lawyerly abuse,
and it seems to me more a case where the government wants to do
things that the constitution - on any fair reading - forbids.
And then they start questioning the constitution rather than
their unconstitutional plans. 
Here is the last bit that I will quote:
The Supreme Court rejected the latter
scenario as unconstitutional in Ferguson
v. City of Charleston in 2001. Other Supreme Court cases make clear
that even holistic, programmatic assessments of Fourth Amendment
"reasonableness" -- like the one the FISC engages in here -- must take
into account the invasiveness of these programs. Searching vast
databases containing the full content of emails and every website
visited by nonsuspect Americans without a warrant is about as invasive
as it gets.
This FISC decision is flawed for all of
these reasons. But we won't get a chance to present those flaws to the
court of appeals, much less the US Supreme Court, because in cases
before the secret surveillance court only the government, not the
amicus (or those of us whose communications are swept up in these
massive programs) is allowed to appeal.
I have two observations.
First, it is quite true that "[s]earching
vast databases containing the full content of emails and every website
visited by nonsuspect Americans without a warrant is about as invasive
as it gets"; it is quite true this
happens; and it is quite true that it is completely
anti-democratic and extremely authoritarian (and doesn't
work against terrorists either, unless these are extremely naive).
And second, a secret surveillance "court" where only the
government (and not its victims) is allowed to appeal is not
a real legal court (that is open, and certainly if it concerns
everybody's privacy) but is in fact a hardly legal means of making the
government get what it wants, while pretending it is acting "in the
name of the law".
If so, that law is very undemocratic.
 It is less certain because I do not
know how much - for example - the Russians or the Chinese spy. And they
certainly spy. Two reasons why they may spy less than the Americans:
First, the Americans have invested a very great amount of money into
spying. This might have been done by the Russians and the Chinese, but
it is a bit less likely. For one thing, I think it is considerably more
likely that I am being traced by some American, English or Dutch secret
service than by a Russian one. (But I might be mistaken.) Second, the
Americans and the English are much better placed to have secret access
to most of the cables along which data is sent these days.
But I agree neither argument is conclusive.
I am very sorry, but these Amsterdam bureaucrats were fascists and
complete moral degenerates. I am saying this now because my dole money
doesn't come anymore from Amsterdam, since I am pensioned, and I
probably will say a lot more about Dutch fascism and Dutch narco-nazis,
because I still want the money to be able to leave this deeply
degenerate country, and I think the Amsterdam sado-fascistic
narco-nazis owe that me.
As to "fascism":
I have been called a fascist (and a dirty fascist) (at
least) many dozens of times by the members of the ASVA, over the course
of 12 years, and absolutely no one cared. (The reasons? I was a proponent of truth and science, in a university (!).)
When I say that Amsterdam bureaucrats are fascists I compare them with my
who was murdered in a German concentration camp, where he was locked
up, in his sixties, as "a political terrorist", because he resisted the
Nazis; and I refer to my father, who survived 3 years, 9 months
and 15 days of imprisonment in four German concentration camps, where
he was also locked up as "a
political terrorist", because he resisted the Nazis. He also was
knighted after the war, as one of the only two communists who were ever
knighted in Holland.
I have been left for four years to cope with the problems
caused by two murderous illegal drugsdealers that were personally
allowed by personal permission of the mayor to deal illegal
drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived; I have
been threatened five times with murder by them, but the
Amsterdam City Police refused four years long to lift a finger
for me, even when the drugdealers were arrested with 2 kiloos of
heroine and 1 kilo of cocaine; I have been gassed by them, and
I survived only (after being unconscious for several hours)
because the house was a dump; I had very insufficient sleep for
four years; and my health has been much
worse than it was prior to 1988 ever since, that is for 28 years.
So yes, I am owed a lot of money by the City of Amsterdam, that very much rather protected illegal murderous drugsdealers than protect me, my health, my sleep or the rights I have according to Dutch laws.
may question my use of the term "fascist". I have explained it in the crisis index and in the previous note, with reference to the very
serious problems that I barely survived in Amsterdam. As far as the
Americans are concerned: I am judging by the evidence I have read (see
the crisis index), which suggested to me that since Bush Jr was awarded
the presidency - that he could not win - by the Supreme Court, there has
been a very strong tendency to use methods - universal surveillance,
secret courts, orders not to speak with anybody if one gets sent to
court by parts of the government, and much more - that I strongly
associate with fascism, for good historical reasons also.
And in case you object to my use of "fascist" etc. when applied to a
few Americans: Read the term along lines like Orwell proposed, in 1945:
"I hate and despise you".
think this is a fair assessment of mine, but I am not a lawyer. And I
also think that the Fourth Amendment is OK as it stands:
The 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.
This is clearly about privacy - "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects"
- and clearly limits the conditions under which this privacy may be
broken: Only "upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".
One might protest against "papers" but clearly - I
would say - this also covers things one writes on a computer, and who
objects to that must also be willing to maintain
that one's privacy is violated when the envelope that
covers one's letters is broken by someone unintended, but that one's
privacy is not violated when the text of one's letters is
stolen by some secret service.