1. Despite Post-Snowden
Outcry, Report Details 'New
Era of Secret Law'
2. The $5
3. Ecuador Cuts Internet Access for Julian Assange to
Preserve Neutrality in U.S.
4. Study: Face Recognition Systems Threaten the
Privacy of Millions
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 19, 2016.
is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a quite frightening article that points out that there are now, and since 15 years, very large areas of secret "laws" in the USA; item 2
is about the war in Afghani- stan, that meanwhile cost, in 15 years, $5
trillion dollars (all provided by the American taxpayers); item 3 is about the censorship the Ecuadorian govern- ment committed against Julien Assange; and item 4 is about the "wild west" that is current facial recognition: Police departments everywhere in the USA get all the faces they want, regardless of whether the owners did anything illegal, and regardless of any permission.
part, for the moment --
In case you visit my
Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need
to click/reload twice or more
to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for
possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my
In any case, I am now (again) updating
the opening of my site with the last day it was updated.
(And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times
last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. 
C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now
works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working. The
Dutch site still is a mess (it wasn't on Oct 15, but has not
worked properly since).
I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I
am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that
also went well for 20 or for 12 years.
I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!)
in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that
for many months now.
Despite Post-Snowden Outcry, Report Details 'New Era of
The first item today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. government
began creating what has now become an "unprecedented buildup" of secret
laws, and even the recent public backlash against them has not stopped
widespread use of covert rules that impact Americans' everyday lives
without their knowledge, according to a new
report from the Brennan Center for Justice.
The Department of Justice has kept
classified at least 74 legal memos, opinions, and letters issued by the
department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2002 to 2009 on
national security issues—from torture to mass surveillance—according to
the report, The
New Era of Secret Law (pdf), written by Elizabeth Gotein,
co-director of the center's Liberty and National Security Program.
And the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, which rules on intelligence collecting
activities, is also hiding 25 to 30 opinions issued between 2003 and
2013 "that were deemed significant by the Attorney General." In fact,
most of the significant case law written before National Security
Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden's
2013 revelations remains undisclosed.
I say! Well... this will probably not
be a good review, but this is because the matter is complicated;
many U.S. laws are secret (!!!); and the
report that is the basis of this, The
New Era of Secret Law (pdf), which I strongly
recommend, is a 100 pages of A4.
In fact, the main text of The
New Era of Secret Law (pdf) starts as
It is an extremely painful
thing to be ruled by laws that one does not know.
Secret law has been condemned for as long
as it has existed — that is, throughout history. It has generally been
associated with repressive regimes; in modern democratic societies,
people intuitively understand that “[t]he idea of secret laws is
repugnant” and that their existence is “an abomination.”
— Franz Kafka, Parables and Paradoxes
In past decades, this intuition led to the
enactment of several statutes in the U.S. designed to ensure public
disclosure of laws.
In recent years, however, secret law has
again reared its head in forms that are more difficult to recognize and
confront — in large part because the context is often national security
policy, where operational secrecy has long been the norm. To address
this more complex phenomenon of secret law, basic
intuitions will not suffice. A deeper understanding is needed of what
constitutes secret law, its history, its legal and practical
implications, and the differences between secret law and secret
implementation of the law.
I completely agree with Kafka's quote and
I am a strong opponent of "secret laws". "Secret laws" are not
laws: Real laws are public, while "secret laws" are the
secret rules by which authorities punish people who oppose
them, possibly also in the deepest secret, and with
And therefore I say that the
"secret laws" a country has (i) the more inequalities between the
powerful and the powerless it has; (ii) the more abuse of the
defenseless it has; and (iii) the more totalitarian, authori-
tarian or (neo)fascistic it has become, although it may be very
difficult to estimate, precisely because many of the "laws" are
For me, therefore, this is strong
evidence the USA has been rapidly moving towards neofascism, which I
define as follows (and see October 17, 2016
for more on fascism and neofascism ):
is a. A social system that is
marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where
the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that
propounds an ethics which has profit as
its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist,
anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist,
and that has a corporative
organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are
stronger than a national government or state, b. A political philosophy or
movement based on or advocating such a social system.
And of course "secret laws" are one of the
ways in which a government becomes "a
centralized powerful authority", indeed while
also falsifying its own degree of (secret) authority.
Here is something on the implied degree of
neofascism in the USA - and the "42 percent" the quotation speaks of
relates to the period 2004-2014:
Fully 42 percent of binding agreements
between the U.S. and other countries are also unpublished, the report
The Washington Post spoke
with Yale University international law professor Oona Hathaway, who
said that number was "pretty stunning."
I'd say this is about the least
that an "expert on international law" can say, when she is told that she doesn't
know over 40% of the "laws" she specializes in, simply because a
few figures with authority have decided that more than 300 million
Americans do NOT deserve the right of knowing the laws by which they
are governed. (See Kafka.)
And there is a lot of "secret law"
(and "secret regulations", and "secret decisions"):
For example, the Administrative
Procedure Act (APA) requires agencies to invite public comment for
proposed rules, while FOIA requires them to publish final rules in the
Federal Registry. But intelligence agencies "routinely" exploit a
narrow exception to those requirements to avoid having to publish new
rules, Gotein says. And most presidential directives regarding national
security policy are kept hidden as well.
All this means "[s]ecret law persists
even in areas where we thought the secrecy had ended," she writes.
I finish this review with a quotation from Elizabeth Gotein (the writer of The
New Era of Secret Law (pdf)):
We pay a high price for this system.
Secret law denies us the ability to shape the rules that govern
official conduct through the democratic process. It prevents us from
holding the government accountable for violations, rendering such
violations more likely. It weakens checks and balances, as both
legislative and judicial oversight operate less effectively under the
constraints imposed by secrecy.
Secret law is also bad law: When rules
are developed by small groups of officials without the input of outside
experts or stakeholders, their quality suffers. Indeed, an inherent
conflict of interest exists when the executive branch enacts laws out
of the public eye to govern its own actions. This can result in
policies that are ineffective, ill advised, or even contrary to
statutes or the Constitution.
Or to put it in my own terms: "Secret
laws" are the laws of authoritarian, totalitarian, fascistic or
Stalinist regimes. "Secret laws" are the
complete opposite of real democratic laws, for they allow the same
authorities that issue these "secret laws" all the freedoms and
all the rights to screw the population they
are the political authorities of and to keep it a total
secret that the population or parts thereof has been
"Secret laws" are the essence of
fascism and neofascism. And this is a recommended artice, though I
think that The
New Era of Secret Law
(pdf) is the best recommendation, although it is a bit technical and
takes 100 pages (but it is decently written, for a lawyer's text).
The second item is by Linda Bilms on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
This October marks 15 years since
American troops entered Afghanistan. It was a precursor to the
occupation of Iraq and is the longest military conflict in US history.
Yet the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives expended in these
wars have rated barely a mention in the presidential campaign.
The most recent estimates
suggest that war costs will run to nearly $5 trillion — a staggering
sum that exceeds even the $3 trillion that
Joseph Stiglitz and I predicted back in 2008.
I say. Then again, while $5 trillion is a very large amount,
the real trouble is not so much about the $5 trillion dollars
this cost so far, but about who is going to pay those $5 trillion dollars: Not those who are presently
alive, it seems:
Put otherwise: All earlier wars that
were conducted by the USA were paid for at the time they happened,
and were paid for by rising taxes, cutting non-miitary
spending, and by war bonds.
Yet the cost seems invisible to
politicians and the public alike. The reason is that almost all of the
spending has been financed through borrowing — selling US Treasury
Bonds around the world — leaving our children to pick up the tab.
Consequently, the wars have had little impact on our pocketbooks.
In earlier wars, the government
routinely raised taxes, slashed nonmilitary spending, and sold war
bonds. Taxes were raised to pay for the Spanish-American War, the War
of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I and World War II. Top rates of
federal income taxes climbed to 70 percent during Vietnam and to over
90 percent during the Korean War. These policies were all part of an
explicit strategy of engaging the American public in the war efforts.
In sharp contrast, the George W. Bush administration cut taxes after
the invasion of Afghanistan, in 2001 and again, in 2003, when we
invaded Iraq. Most Americans pay lower taxes now than they did 15 years
But not the war in Afghanistan: This must be paid (with
interests also) by the children of the present adults
(as raising taxes would cut incomes of the very rich, which - with the
present mostly corrupt politicians - must be considered a real political impossibility).
Then there is this as regards financing the war:
Congress has also managed to
avoid painful budgetary choices. Since 2001, Congress has employed a
series of so-called “temporary special appropriations” to authorize
hundreds of billions of dollars for war spending, bypassing the regular
spending process. Despite President Obama’s pledge to end such
“gimmicks,” they have continued throughout his presidency. Thus the
money appropriated for the post-9/11 wars did not have to be traded off
against other spending priorities. The war appropriation also gets far
less scrutiny than the regular defense budget. Consequently, the war
budget has become a magnet for pet nonwar spending projects that
senators and congressmen want to slip in under the radar. As a
consequence, the reported war cost per troop deployed has ballooned
from $1 million per year at the peak of the fighting in 2008 to $4.9
is special; war has special rules (many of them secret); and because
war is special it now also attracted enormous amounts of nonwar
spending projects - which made it nearly 5 times as expensive,
in a mere 8 years, to send out one US soldier.
And not only do the present American adults not have to pay for
the war: they also do not need to fear fighting it: This is the first war that has been conducted by professional
Besides ducking the immediate
financial burden, most of us are also shielded from the risks and
hardships of military service. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were the
first major US conflicts fought entirely by an “all-volunteer” military
force. Less than 1 percent of the adult US population was deployed to
the combat zones — the smallest percentage at any time since the short
peacetime period between the two World Wars. Instead, our small
volunteer army is supplemented by a large shadow force of private
contractors. In Afghanistan, contractors outnumber US troops by 3 to 1,
performing critical roles in virtually every area of military activity.
More than two-thirds of them are recruited from other countries,
including the Philippines and Nepal.
I say. So the war the USA is
conducting in Afghanistan (i) is not conducted by
non-professionals, and (ii) most of those who are fighting it are not
Americans either, while (iii) it also is not being paid by present
U.S. adults. (But their children will have to pay everything,
with interest also.)
3. Ecuador Cuts Internet Access for Julian Assange to
Preserve Neutrality in U.S. Election
The third item is by Robert
Mackey on The Intercept:
starts as follows:
say. Since I do not like euphemisms, I'd say that the government of
Ecuador now has decided it will censor Julian Assange. Indeed, here is
the specific reason for the censorship:
The government of Ecuador confirmed on
Tuesday that it had decided “to temporarily restrict access” to the
internet inside its embassy in London, effectively cutting off Julian
Assange, the editor of Wikileaks, who has lived there since he was
granted political asylum in 2012.
Assange first reported on Monday that
his internet connection had been “severed by a state party,” and the
organization was forced to resort to a back-up plan to continue its
official statement, Ecuador’s foreign ministry suggested that the
restriction was related to the release of documents by Wikileaks that
could impact the presidential election in the United States.
That is: It seems Ecuador's government likes
it if Hillary Clinton is elected president, and dislikes it if
Donald Trump were elected; Ecuador's government believes
Assange's publications on Wikileak decreases Clinton's chances; therefore
Ecuador's government decided to stop Julian Assange's use of internet.
This seems to have been the reasoning. And there is this:
First of all: Why should Assange be prevented
from "attempting to undermine Hillary Clinton’s
campaign for the presidency"?!
As The Intercept reported
in August, since Wikileaks began publishing emails hacked from the
accounts of Democratic party officials, the site’s editor has been
accused of attempting to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the
While a founding principle of Wikileaks
was that its editors would not know the identity of those who supplied
them with documents, the U.S. Intelligence Community said
earlier this month that it “is confident that the Russian Government
directed the recent compromises of emails” later provided to the site,
in order “to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
Intelligence officials have not disclosed
evidence to support their attribution of responsibility to Russia (...)
If he does - for which I have not seen one
of proof - I disagree with him, but he does no more than 4/5th or more
of the mainstream media have been doing the last seven months.
Second, the very pleasantly called "U.S.
Intelligence Community"  is a branch
of the U.S. government, and all goverments and all
until there is independent evidence that they speak the truth - and
this is the more so since "[i]ntelligence
officials have not disclosed evidence to support their attribution of
responsibility to Russia".
And third, and regardless from the accusations of WikiLeaks by
anonymous bureaucrats from U.S. intelligence: This is just censorship,
and it is censor- ship of WikiLeaks, which is one of the few sources of
Recognition Systems Threaten the Privacy of Millions
fourth and final item today is by Ava Kofman on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
A broad coalition of over 50 civil
liberties groups delivered a letter
to the Justice Department’s civil rights division Tuesday calling for
an investigation into the expanding use of face recognition technology
by police. “Safeguards to ensure this technology is being used fairly
and responsibly appear to be virtually nonexistent,” the letter stated.
The routine unsupervised use of face recognition systems, according to
the dozens of signatories, threatens the privacy and civil liberties of
millions — especially those of immigrants and people of color.
These civil rights groups were provided
with advance copies of a watershed 150-page report detailing — in many
cases for the first time — how local police departments across the
country have been using facial recognition technology. Titled “The
Perpetual Lineup,” the report,
published Tuesday morning by the Georgetown Center on Privacy &
Technology, reveals that police deploy face recognition technology in
ways that are more widespread, advanced, and unregulated than anyone
has previously reported.
must say that I am not amazed at all. And in fact almost everything I
have heard about terrorism was less about terrorism (which did not kill
many, with the exception of 9/11) and more about "the need" for
state-terrorism from the secret services, police and military of
Western governments. (See October 29, 2005, if you read Dutch.)
And I see this as more evidence that I was
right in 2005, also because that is now 11 years ago - which saw eleven
years of enormous growth in Western state-terrorism :
and no, of course: Yes, it's a wild west according to Clare Garvie and
myself, but no, it is paradise for the police departments: They are
getting all the facial pictures they want, of anyone, without any
questions being asked.
“Face recognition is a powerful
technology that requires strict oversight. But those controls by and
large don’t exist today,” said Clare Garvie, one of the report’s
co-authors. “With only a few exceptions, there are no laws governing
police use of the technology, no standards ensuring its accuracy, and
no systems checking for bias. It’s a wild west.”
Here is some more on the wild west/paradise:
There is no national database of
departments using these programs, how they work, what policies govern
them, who can access them, and how the passive information is being
collected and queried. The Georgetown report, compiling tens of
thousands of records produced in response to Freedom of Information
requests sent to fifty of the largest police departments across the
country, provides the most comprehensive snapshot to date of how and on
whom face recognition systems are used — and what policies constrain
their use, if any. But even this picture continues to be partial, given
the continued lack of transparency of several large law enforcement
agencies with some of the most advanced systems.
seems as if it is total anarchy for the police, which means - in my
estimate, at least - that it gets more and more dangerous for ordinary
this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for
months now. I
do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of
"xs4all" (really: the
KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from
2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control
myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because
"you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which
is the perfect excuse never to do anything
 I will soon publish "On fascism and neofascism - 1".
I know I have been promising that for quite a while now, and indeed I have written most of it, but I needed to find something I wished to include in it, and have meanwhile found it.
So yes, it will be published soon, and it also will probably have
 I am sorry but I think "Community" for a secret organization consisting of at least 17 departments, one even more secret than the other, and all dedicated to state-terrorism , is a propaganda term. (In case you disagree: Ask yourself why Eisenhower spoke of the "Military-Industrial Complex", much rather than of the "Military-Industrial Community".)
 Maybe it is (once more) time to explain (1) the difference between state-terrorism and terrorism and (2) why state-terrorism has grown enormously since 9/11.
As to state-terrorism and terrorism:
Both go by the same definition, namely "Attempt to get one's way in
politics or religion by violence and murder, directed especially at civilians".
The difference between the two is that state-terrorism is done by people paid for by states, whereas terrorism that is not done by people paid for by states is simply terrorism.
I dislike both, but looking at the evidence - say: of the Nazis and of
the Soviet "Socialists" - is more than sufficient to convince me that state-terrorism is by far the most dangerous, indeed because it is paid by very powerful states.
As to the enormous growth of Western state-terrorism:
I am talking about the growth in information (which tends to be prior to actual terrorizing): It seems that in the 15 years that have passed since 9/11 everybody who has a computer that is connected to the internet and everybody who has a cellphone has a - secret - dossier in the NSA databasis.
You might reply - e.g. as a Westerner - that you harmed no one, and
that you don't care what the secret services know about you.
My reply is that I don't doubt the first (in all probability), but this ought to imply you are not in a secret dossier maintained by a secret service, largely for secret ends.
If you are - and according to the (partial, incomplete, to a large extent secret) information I have everybody
with a cellphone or internet computer has been made into a dossier by
the NSA - I can only say that I wish you the best, but that I
fear very bad things may happen to you if you somehow oppose any future (American) government, of whatever color.
For that is what secret dossiers made by secret services have
been used for, and now there are secret dossiers by secret services on
anyone with internet connection (and "secret laws" as well).