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Nederlog

May 4, 2016

Crisis: Drone Wars, Snowden, Illegal Acts, Sanders Wins + Position, Fine Carlin
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. "The Assassination Complex": Jeremy Scahill & Glenn
     Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars in New Book

2. Whistleblowing is not just leaking its an act of political
     resistance

3. NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on
     Americans in Two Years

4.
Live Blog: Sanders Bounces Back With Indiana Win,
     Trump Rolls On, Cruz Folds

5. After Indiana Win Sanders Declares: 'I Say We Keep
     Fighting. Are You with Me?'

6. Over 10 Years Later, George Carlin’s Comments on the
     American System Are as Haunting as Ever (Video)
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, May 4, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about a new book by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept; item 2 is about the foreword that Edward Snowden wrote for that book; item 3 is about the enormous illegal practices of the NSA, the CIA and the FBI (and no, they were hardly interested in terrorists; they always were most interested in control- ling everyone); item 4 is a brief bit about the outcomes of the latest primaries (Sanders and Trump won, Cruz stops); item 5 is about Sanders' position, and I agree with him (and he still may win!); and item 6 is a video + text of one of the great bits of George Carlin (and I agree with most everything he says, including what most Americans don't like: his pessimism that the current USA can pull itself out of its very many problems without a deep other crisis).

And here is a small bit of information on the TTIP, that at long last has been made public, at least for the most part:

I haven't looked at it yet, for I have quite a few things to do, but I will. Then again, if it is mostly legal "prose", I will be out very quickly: it's anyway all legal bullshit written by lawyerly liars, and I will not try to figure out legalese corruptions.

And in any case, the main point remains as it was:

The TTIP is a gigantic power grab by the multi-national corporations, that also now want to control all states, many expenditures, most parliamentary decisions and most governmental decisions. And you can forget about democracy if the TTIP ever becomes law: then you probably have to wait until the economic system totally collapses (which will happen eventually because of climate change).

1. "The Assassination Complex": Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars in New Book

The first item is
by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This is from the beginning:
"The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program" is written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, and based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. We speak with Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.
This is indeed what the article is about: a new book by Jeremy Scahill (<- Wikipedia) and the staff of The Intercept. I think it is important, and I know
it is good, for the source are The Drone Papers, that I have several times reviewed in 2015, e.g. here.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Right, well, Amy, you know, the covert drone program, for the majority of its lifespan, has been shrouded in secrecy, and it was sort of a kind of macabre joke in Washington, because the entire world could see that the U.S. was raining bombs down on people across the globe and in an increasing number of countries in the early stages of Obama’s presidency, and yet the United States would never officially confirm that it had conducted a drone strike.
(..)
And what the Obama administration is doing right now is basically trying to rebrand and engage in historical revisionism about what is going to be one of the most deadly legacies of the Obama era, and that is that somehow they came up with a cleaner way of waging war. I would say that the most significant aspect of what President Obama has done, regarding drones and regarding the so-called targeted killing program around the world, is that Obama has codified assassination as a central official component of American foreign policy. And he has implemented policies that a Republican probably would not have been able to implement, certainly not with the support that Obama has received from so many self-identified liberals.
I think that is all quite correct. Incidentally, I also know Obama's argument for drone strikes: He claims it takes fewer lives than war with boots on the ground. Having seen the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's that were killed since
Bush Jr.'s invasion, I agree about the numbers, but: (1) the USA has no right
to conduct these wars anyway, and (2) Obama very conveniently forgets that
drones terrorize very many more than are killed, and also (3) Obama also conveniently forgets that he "
has codified assassination as a central official
component of American foreign policy
" (bolding added).

Here is some more Scahill, that explains how the deaths drone attacks make are counted by the Americans:

The reason that the Obama administration and that the president can say to the American people, "Well, we’ve only killed a small number of civilians," is because—and our documents in the book show this—because they have embraced a system of counting the dead which almost always will result in zero civilians killed, because anyone who is killed in a drone strike, under this administration, is labeled as an enemy killed in action, an EKIA, until or unless posthumously proven to have not been a militant, a terrorist, what have you. This is a global assassination program that is authorized and run under what amounts to a parallel legal system or judicial system where the president and his advisers serve as the judge, jury and executioner of people across the globe.
In fact, it is even worse than is sketched here: What Obama c.s. really know, nearly always, is that a cellphone has been used to communicate about terrorism. Who in fact carries the cellphone is often not clear, while the people surrounding him (who all will be blown up if the cellphone and its user are blown up by a drone) are generally wholly unknown.

And after they are blown up, any male between 16 or 18 and 45 (or older) will be automatically classified by the Americans as "a terrorist". This is how they
manage to kill many "terrorists" they in fact do not know anything about.

Here is Glenn Greenwald from the same article, about the very many lies Obama told to those who were going to vote foe him because he made these promises - which he only made to be elected, after which he betrayed all of them:
GLENN GREENWALD: It seems like a really distant memory now, but if you look back to what President Obama, then-Senator Obama, was saying in 2006, 2007, as his critique of the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism, he was essentially railing against not just the policies, but the mindset and the approach that, once he became president, he ended up not only embracing, but strengthening and increasing. He talked all the time about how terrible it was to treat somebody like a terrorist and punish them with imprisonment in Guantánamo, with indefinite detention, without so much as giving them the right to have a trial. And not only has he continued the system of indefinite detention—and he intended to continue the system of indefinite detention, even if he were able to close Guantánamo; his plan was simply to shift it to American soil—he’s done much more than that. He has institutionalized a program where now we don’t only just imprison people without any charges or due process, we don’t just eavesdrop on them, which was one of his big critiques of the Bush administration, without first giving them due process or a trial, we now just target them for execution, for death, for a death penalty.
Yes indeed - and as soon as he ceases to be president, he will try to further extend his fame by his presidential library, that seems to have been estimated
to cost 800 million dollar. (I have read that sum, I am certain, but it is - in the heaps of propaganda - difficult to find.)

In any case, this is a good article with considerably more information: it is recommended you read all of it.

2. Whistleblowing is not just leaking its an act of political resistance

The second item is by Edward Snowden on The Intercept:

This starts as follows, and is the foreword to the book Scahill and the staff of The Intercept published, that is also the subject of item 1.

First, there is this about the rather unique position of becoming a whistleblower:

I’ve been waiting 40 years for someone like you.” Those were the first words Daniel Ellsberg spoke to me when we met last year. Dan and I felt an immediate kinship; we both knew what it meant to risk so much — and to be irrevocably changed — by revealing secret truths.

One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint. They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: What begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice.

I think I may understand a little better what Snowden is talking about, though not from my own experience but that of both my parents and one grandparent:

They went into the real - communist - resistance in WW II, together with the whole Dutch Communist Party, that in result lost over 2000 members in 5 years of war - that then were mostly forgotten by the proud and mostly collabo-
rating Dutch because they were communists, and were therefore, again according to the majority of Dutch collaborators "traitors to the Dutch fatherland".

Well, they were not, but the Dutch collaborators (I am talking about any adult Dutchman who survived the war without lifting a finger in protest, for whatever reason, most of which were cowardly) won in the sense that of all the  communists in the Dutch resistance only two persons seem ever to have been knighted by the Queen: A man who headed the Northholland resistance, and my father (whose story about concentration camps is under the link, in English).

Here is Snowden on what makes some whistleblowers respected:

If harmfulness and authorization make no difference, what explains the distinction between the permissible and the impermissible disclosure?

The answer is control. A leak is acceptable if it’s not seen as a threat, as a challenge to the prerogatives of the institution. But if all of the disparate components of the institution — not just its head but its hands and feet, every part of its body — must be assumed to have the same power to discuss matters of concern, that is an existential threat to the modern political monopoly of information control, particularly if we’re talking about disclosures of serious wrongdoing, fraudulent activity, unlawful activities. If you can’t guarantee that you alone can exploit the flow of controlled information, then the aggregation of all the world’s unmentionables — including your own — begins to look more like a liability than an asset.

Truly unauthorized disclosures are necessarily an act of resistance — that is, if they’re not done simply for press consumption, to fluff up the public appearance or reputation of an institution.

This means - incidentally - that there are at least three kinds of whistleblowers (that are in turn defined by their disclosing information that was somehow classified as secret): (i) those who reveal information that (while secret) is not considered a threat; (ii) those who reveal information that (while secret) is mostly used to fluff up institutions; and (iii) the real whistleblowers, who reveal
unpopular facts that were intended to remain a secret forever.

Here is Snowden's sense of being a radical - and he is quite correct:

At the heart of this evolution is that whistleblowing is a radicalizing event — and by “radical” I don’t mean “extreme”; I mean it in the traditional sense of radix, the root of the issue. At some point you recognize that you can’t just move a few letters around on a page and hope for the best. You can’t simply report this problem to your supervisor, as I tried to do, because inevitably supervisors get nervous. They think about the structural risk to their career. They’re concerned about rocking the boat and “getting a reputation.” The incentives aren’t there to produce meaningful reform. Fundamentally, in an open society, change has to flow from the bottom to the top.

Yes, and I found the same in the University of Amsterdam: I was asked by members of the scientific staff to make a student-party to attack Marxism and the radical declines in scientific education, but while I got a whole lot of private sympathy from lecturers and professors, almost no one publicly supported me, and no one said anything when I was removed - also ill - briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy as a student.

And besides, I found that 90% of the students of the University of Amsterdam were not interested in science or in getting a fine scientific education: they were interested in getting an M.A., if possible with the least problems to themselves.

I agree this was not quite like what Snowden did and dared, but it utterly ruined my - up to then excellent - chances of becoming an academic philosopher (outside Holland, to be sure); it was extremely cruel (over 18 years of my life
were voided
, by a bunch of academic nitwits); and it thought me a lot about
ordinary men, including the great majority of all academics, and about real individuals, of which there are at most 1 in a 1000 (and see the end of this review if you disagree).

Snowden ends his foreword as follows:

Unrestrained power may be many things, but it’s not American. It is in this sense that the act of whistleblowing increasingly has become an act of political resistance. The whistleblower raises the alarm and lifts the lamp, inheriting the legacy of a line of Americans that begins with Paul Revere.

The individuals who make these disclosures feel so strongly about what they have seen that they’re willing to risk their lives and their freedom. They know that we, the people, are ultimately the strongest and most reliable check on the power of government. The insiders at the highest levels of government have extraordinary capability, extraordinary resources, tremendous access to influence, and a monopoly on violence, but in the final calculus there is but one figure that matters: the individual citizen.

And there are more of us than there are of them.

I am sorry to have to disagree with him on two or three points:

First, I'd say some Americans are in favor of "unrestrained power", and they also have most of the governmental and military power in the current USA: it seems Snowden is to some extent confusing his (and others') ideal of the USA with what it really is.

And second, with my family and their resistance to the Nazis amidst a Dutch population that mostly collaborated (and managed to have over 100.000 people murdered for "being of the wrong race") and my own experiences as a student-leader and a whistleblower in the University of Amsterdam where at least 90% of the students were not interested in science, and not in truth, and not in a fine education, but merely in getting an M.A. that would help them make significantly more money, I am not a great believer in "
the individual citizen" nor in the - itself quite correct - reflection that there are far more of citizens than there are members of government.

Third, in case you wish to disregard me and my family: Read some history, and find out that most history is, as Gibbon (<- Wikipedia) said:

"History is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind"

And it is so because the leaders are usually but not always egoistic bastards, while the led are generally duped and deceived.

But the foreword is well worth reading and recommended.

3. NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on Americans in Two Years

The third item is
by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

FROM 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report.

The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672 — more than double the 2013 figure.

And that doesn’t even include the number of FBI searches on that database. A recently released Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruling confirmed that the FBI is allowed to run any number of searches it wants on that database, not only for national security probes but also to hunt for evidence of traditional crimes. No estimates have ever been released of how often that happens.

I note the following things: First, the information the NSA gathered is all illegal according to the Fourth Amendment; second, "the FBI is allowed to run any number of searches it wants on that database"; third "[n]o estimates have ever been released of how often that happens"; while fourth, the FBI simply declines declaring how they found the evidence if a judge inquires after it (see yesterday). And I think this smells more like a police state than a real demo- cracy.

And there is this:

Under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the NSA collects hundreds of millions of digital communications at rest and in transit from the major internet backbones running in and out of the U.S., as well as from Google, Facebook, YouTube, and other companies, involving “targets” overseas.

Americans’ communications are constitutionally protected from warrantless searches, but when those communications are swept up by the NSA “incidentally” to its main goal, those protections have been essentially ignored.

And besides, there also at least was a deal between the NSA and the GCHQ that consisted of the idea that the British GCHQ could find out about Americans, while the American NSA could find out about Britons, and then they would exchange the data while their spokesmen assured their parliaments that - honestly and truly! -  they did not seek out any information about their own countrymen.

4. Live Blog: Sanders Bounces Back With Indiana Win, Trump Rolls On, Cruz Folds

The fourth item is by Ear to the Ground on Truthdig:

This is mostly here to summarize the latest outcomes:

The Associated Press has called Bernie Sanders the winner of Indiana’s Democratic presidential primary. CBS reports what Sanders had to say:

“As of today, we have now won 17 primaries and caucuses. We have received some nine million votes. When we started this campaign, we were 60 points behind Secretary Clinton in national polls,” he said. “We end up winning the vote of people 45 years of age or younger. That is important because it tells me that the ideas that we are fighting for are the ideas for the future of America and the future of the Democratic Party.”

Sanders won again, though the main media act as if nobody ought to be interested, while many of his false friends (on The Guardian, for example)
insist that he should stop, as indeed they have all the time, while pretending
to be "sympathetic".

Here is the rest of the last news about the American primaries:
Donald Trump has won Indiana, according to The Associated Press. Following this news, Ted Cruz has announced he is ending his campaign. The Washington Post reports:

Cruz’s decision came after losing overwhelmingly to Trump in the Indiana primary, all but ensuring that real estate mogul will claim his party’s mantle at the Republican National Convention in July.

“I said I would continue on as long as there is a viable path to victory. Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz told a small group of supporters here Tuesday night. “Together we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path.”

Cruz also said he would “continue to fight for liberty,” but did not address whether he would support Trump as the nominee.

John Kasich remains in the race.

This means Trump will win the Republican nomination, unless the grandees of
that party put the interests of the nation (and the world: I prefer not being blown up in an atomic war started by Trump) above the interests of their party,
which they are very unlikely to do.

5. After Indiana Win Sanders Declares: 'I Say We Keep Fighting. Are You with Me?'

The fifth item is
by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Proving that U.S. voters are still energenized to go to the polls to voice their support for "political revolution," Bernie Sanders won the Indiana primary on Tuesday night – besting rival Hillary Clinton and notching a much-needed victory as the corporate media and political class continues to discount his chances and downplay the accomplishments of the campaign.

"The political revolution wins in Indiana!" the Sanders campaign tweeted just after 9 PM eastern.

The Guardian described it as a "shock victory," reporting:

Despite trailing by an average of seven points in opinion polls and losing a string of bigger, more diverse states on the east coast, Sanders once again proved his appeal to disaffected midwest voters by pulling off his 18th victory of 2016, according to Associated Press projections.

So indeed Bernie Sanders won in Indiana, and indeed he will go on, as I think he should. And he also still may win the presidential nomination, which is another reason to continue.

In an email sent to supporters just before 10 PM eastern, Sanders said the victory in Indiana helps prove his recent argument that every voter in the country deserves to be heard this primary season.

"For the past several weeks, the corporate media has counted us out of this election," Sanders wrote. "The political and financial establishment of this country have been vocal in their desire for us to go away. To get in line."

But in Indiana on Tuesday, Sanders added, "the voters had another idea."

Quite so - in fact "the corporate media" were extremely awful and quite dishonest, and are also responsible for many of the gains of Trump and Clinton, that would not have been there if "the corporate media" had reported objectively, fairly and honestly. (But no: those days are gone, at least for
most that the main media do.)

Here is Sanders' position as stated by himself:

Despite recent losses, Sanders has repeatedly said he intends to take his campaign through to California, among the very last primaries of the season as well as the most populous and delegate-rich state in the country.

"Every victory we earn is extraordinarily important for our political revolution," he continued. "Not just because of the delegates we earn, but because each win and all the work that goes into that effort sends an unmistakable message to the establishment of this country that we will never stop fighting for the values we share. I say we keep fighting. Are you with me?"

Yes, I am, although my support will not count for much. But I have over a 1000 daily readers, so I may contribute a tiny bit. [1]

6. Over 10 Years Later, George Carlin’s Comments on the American System Are as Haunting as Ever (Video)

The sixth and last item today is
by

This starts as follows:

George Carlin would have had a field day with the 2016 United States presidential election if he were alive today. The comedian and social critic died on June 22, 2008, but his spirit and wisdom remains eternal.

In this stand-up bit from his 2005 show “Life Is Worth Losing,” Carlin explains the way America works and why politicians don’t have much power.


Here is the text, that I first published nearly 4 years ago, on May 18, 2012:
But there's a reason. There's a reason. There is a reason for this. There is a reason that education sucks, and that it will never ever ever be fixed. It is never going to be any better. Don't look for it. Be happy with what you've got. Because the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the real owners now, the big wealthy businessmen who control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They have long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the State Houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies so they can control just about all the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They are not interested in that. That  doesn't help them. That's against their interests. That's right. They don't want people smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard, thirty fucking years ago. They don't want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paper work and just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you're going to collect it it. And now they're coming for your social security money. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you, sooner or later. Cause they own this fucking place. It's a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club. By the way it is the same club that used to beat you over the head all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head in their media, telling you what to believe, and what to think, and what to buy. The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good honest hard working people, white collar, blue collar, it doesn't matter what color shirt you have on, good honest hard working people continue - these are people of modest means - continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don't give a fuck about them. They don't give a fuck about you; they don't give a fuck about you: they don't care about you. At all. At all. At all. And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That's what the owners count on: The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white an d blue dick that's being jammed into their assholes every day. Because the owners of this country know the truth. It's called "The American Dream", cause you have to be asleep to believe it.
And I agree with Eric Ortiz of Truthdig that this is an important and fine text, with which I also agree about George Carlin's pessimism about the great majority of American voters: They may, on occasion, choose the least evil, but this happens rarely because of their intelligence or knowledge.

In any case, I do strongly hope the American voters do not vote Trump in a presidential election.

--------------------------
Notes
[1] But really I do not count with making any difference except having informed some.
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