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
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
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).
"The Assassination Complex": Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Probe
Secret US Drone Wars in New Book
first item is by Amy Goodman on
"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
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.
JEREMYSCAHILL: 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
the ground. Having seen the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's that were
Bush Jr.'s invasion, I agree about the numbers, but: (1) the USA has no
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
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
In fact, it is even worse than is sketched
here: What Obama c.s. really know, nearly always, is that a
has been used to communicate about terrorism. Who in fact carries the
cellphone is often not clear, while the people surrounding him
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
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
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:
GLENNGREENWALD: 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
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
what Snowden is talking about, though not from my own
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
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
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
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
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
Here is Snowden's sense of being a radical - and he is quite
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
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
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
utterly ruined my - up to then excellent - chances of becoming
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
I am sorry to have to disagree with him on
two or three points:
First, I'd say some Americans are in
of "unrestrained power", and they also have most of the
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
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%
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
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 (<-
"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
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
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
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
number of searches it wants on that database";
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-
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.
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
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.”
won again, though the main media act as if nobody ought to be
interested, while many of his false friends (on The Guardian, for
insist that he should stop, as indeed they have all the time,
to be "sympathetic".
Here is the rest of the last news about the American primaries:
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
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
of their party,
which they are very unlikely to do.
After Indiana Win Sanders Declares: 'I Say We Keep Fighting. Are You
The fifth item is by Jon Queally
on Common Dreams:
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
were extremely awful and quite dishonest, and are also responsible
many of the gains of Trump and Clinton, that would not have
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. 
6.Over 10 Years Later, George Carlin’s Comments on the
American System Are as Haunting as Ever (Video)
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
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.
I agree with Eric Ortiz of Truthdig that this is an important
text, with which I also agree about George Carlin's pessimism
great majority of American voters: They may, on occasion, choose
least evil, but this happens rarely because of their intelligence
In any case, I do strongly hope the American voters do not vote
Trump in a presidential election.
really I do not count with making any difference except having