Saturday, Apr 29, 2017

Crisis: NSA Surveillance, CIA + Machiavellian Elites, ICD-11 (ME/CFS)

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. NSA Backs Down on Major Surveillance Program That Captured
     Americans’ Communications Without a Warrant

How the CIA Created a Fake Western Reality for
     ‘Unconventional Warfare’

3. The Final Stage of the Machiavellian Elites’ Takeover of

Why is this proposal for the G93.3 legacy terms for ICD-11 so

This is a Nederlog of Saturday
, April 29, 2017.

Summary: This is a
crisis log with four items and four links that is a bit abnormal in that items 2 and 3 were on my backlog (I intended to review them but didn't), while item 4 is medical (and about ME/CFS):

Item 1 is about an article on The Intercept that explains a part of the NSA surveillance programs is curtailed (but I do not think this is any improvement for anyone who is not American); item 2 and item 3 are part 3 and part 4 (the last part) of a series of articles on surveillance and democracy in the USA; and item 4 is mostly for persons with ME/CFS.
April 29: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site is running behind at April 26. They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most. I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them like the plague.)

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. NSA Backs Down on Major Surveillance Program That Captured Americans’ Communications Without a Warrant

The first article today is by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

The National Security Agency on Friday suddenly announced it is curtailing one of its major surveillance programs.

Under pressure from the secret court that oversees its practices, the NSA said its “upstream” program would no longer grab communications directly from the U.S. internet backbone “about” specific foreign targets — only communication to and from those targets.

This is a major change, essentially abandoning a bulk surveillance program that captured vast amounts of communications of innocent Americans – and turning instead to a still extensive but more targeted approach.

“This change ends a practice that could result in Americans’ communications being collected without a warrant merely for mentioning a foreign target,” Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement. “For years, I’ve repeatedly raised concerns that this amounted to an end run around the Fourth Amendment. This transparency should be commended. To permanently protect Americans’ rights, I intend to introduce legislation banning this kind of collection in the future.”

I say, for I did not know this. Also, while I like it that the NSA seems (!) to be abandoning one (!) "bulk surveillance program that captured vast amounts of communications of innocent Americans", I also like to point out that (i) there are more bulk surveillance programs run by the NSA, and (ii) since I am not an American,
I and all other non-Americans are not helped at all by this switch: This only protects
Americans (if it does: see below).

Here is how it worked - it seems - since 2001:

The “upstream” surveillance program is one of two controversial programs authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is scheduled to expire in December unless it is reauthorized by Congress. It was among several programs whose existence was a secret until being revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Until now, upstream was examining every Internet communication that traveled on the huge telecommunication cables going in and out of the U.S., searching through every word, grabbing sometimes very big chunks of data that included even a single mention of a specific target, and then putting everything into a database for NSA analysts to look through.

As I have said several times, this practice - that started in 2001/2 - where the NSA's spies' programs were (bolding added) "examining every Internet communication that traveled on the huge telecommunication cables going in and out of the U.S." must have created enormous databases on nearly every American user of internet.

There is this on the reasons why the NSA curtailed this part of its major surveillance programs:

The NSA statement on Friday said the move came “after a comprehensive review of mission needs, current technological constraints, United States person privacy interests, and certain difficulties in implementation.”

But reading between the lines, it wasn’t voluntary.

I take it Froomkin is correct, an in fact this was no real explanation by the ever secret NSA. Also, the NSA is still using Prism:

The change does not affect the other major program that operates under Section 702, called Prism. That program warrantlessly harvests communications to and from foreign targets from major Internet companies like Facebook and Google. But like upstream, Prism “incidentally” sweeps up innocent Americans’ communications as well. Those are then entered into a master database that a Justice Department lawyer once described as the “FBI’s ‘Google’ of its lawfully acquired information.” Critics call those “backdoor searches” of warrantless surveillance.

Wyden and other members of Congress have been trying to understand the scope of 702 surveillance for years, but the government has refused to provide even a ballpark figure.

That is: It is unclear why the NSA limited its "upstream" searches of everything (and it seems they were not really willing, but this is also unclear), whereas - after something like 15 years of trying - another major surveillance schema still continues, and is still hardly understood by the US parliamentarians that are supposed to control the US government.

Also - knowing that it was since 2001 the end of the NSA to gather everything about anyone - the present article doesn't say anything about the possibility that the NSA is limiting this gathering for legal reasons, but precisely for the same reasons may have passed over its secret collection of American data to the GCHQ, which aren't American, and can get everything about any American without legal troubles (and in deep secrecy).

So this does not seem to me a major change, though it might be a slight improval for American citizens.

2. How the CIA Created a Fake Western Reality for ‘Unconventional Warfare’

The second article is by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould, and this and the next item are the third and fourth part of a four part series in Truthdig that I wanted to review.

Here are links to my reviews of part 1 and part 2 while this is part 3 and the next item is part 4 of 4:
This starts as follows, and continues part 2 on James Burnham (about whom I know a reasonable amount, while I also read the two books of his that were mentioned in this text):
The odd, psychologically conflicted and politically divisive ideology referred to as neoconservatism can claim many godfathers. Irving Kristol (father of William Kristol), Albert Wohlstetter, Daniel Bell, Norman Podhoretz and Sidney Hook come to mind. And there are many others. But in both theory and practice, the title of founding father for the neoconservative agenda of endless warfare that rules the thinking of America’s defense and foreign policies today might best be applied to James Burnham
There is more on James Burnham in part 2, in which I also briefly explained that the above story doesn't quite rhyme with the Wikipedia's article on neoconservatism, that does not mention Burnham at all (and in fact traces the roots of neoconservatism to Commentary rather than to Burnham).

This is not conclusive, to be sure, but does support my position rather than that of the authors. But here is some more on Burnham:
Burnham renounced his allegiance to Trotsky and Marxism in all its forms in 1940, but he would take their tactics and strategies for infiltration and subversion with him and would turn their method of dialectical materialism against them. His 1941 book, “The Managerial Revolution,” would bring him fame and fortune and establish him as an astute, if not exactly accurate, political prophet chronicling the rise of a new class of technocratic elite. His next book, “The Machiavellians,” confirmed his movement away from Marxist idealism to a very cynical and often cruel realism with his belief in the inevitable failure of democracy and the rise of the oligarch.
As I said, I read both books by Burnham, indeed quite a long time ago (I bought "The Machiavellians" in 1982) and I liked "The Machiavellians" considerably more than "The Managerial Revolution", but indeed agreed with neither.

And there is also this on Sidney Hook (<-Wikipedia), in whom I was briefly interested in 1970:
In 1939 Sidney Hook, Burnham’s colleague at New York University and fellow Marxist philosopher, had helped to found an anti-Stalinist Committee for Cultural Freedom as part of a campaign against Moscow. During the war Hook, too, had abandoned Marxism and, like Burnham, somehow found himself in the warm embrace of the right wing of America’s intelligence community during and after World War II. Hook was viewed by the Communist Party as a traitor and “counter-revolutionary reptile” for his activities and by 1942 was informing on his fellow comrades to the FBI.
The reason I was briefly interested in Hook in 1970 was that I was then giving up Marxism, in which I had been educated by my - very brave and quite intelligent but not well-educated - parents, and I had read that Hook had been a Marxist but stopped being one and still taught philosophy in the USA. (This was of course long before internet days, and it was much more difficult to get information about persons and books.)

But I soon found out he was completely unoriginal and quite boring (compared to Bertrand Russell and Alfred Ayer, whom I also both read in 1970) and indeed the Wikipedia mentions precisely one "Notable Idea" of Hook (and I quote):
Communists and other conspirators could be barred from offices of public trust
And that position, I also knew in 1970, was totalitarian and quite unlikable to me, and so I rapidly lost all interest in Hook.

This part ends with something I did not know:

His book, “The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom,” would become the CIA’s manual for displacing Western culture with an alternative doctrine for endless conflict in a world of oligarchs. In the end, it opened the gates to an Inferno from which there would be no return.
As I said above, I liked "The Machiavellians" considerably more than "The Managerial Revolution", but I did not agree with either. My reasons to like "The Machiavellians" - having meanwhile (that is: by 1982, when I bought it) read a lot of political philosophy and sociology - were that it was considerably better written than most political and sociological texts I had read; it did more or less seriously discuss some general ideas I found interesting; and I did not consider it more mistaken than many other political and sociological texts that I had read, that usually also were more boring and less well-written.

We turn to the fourth and last part of the four part series:

3. The Final Stage of the Machiavellian Elites’ Takeover of America

The third article in this Nederlog is - as said in the previous item - my review of part 4 which also is the last part of
a four part series written by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould:

This starts as follows:

The recent assertion by the Trump White House that Damascus and Moscow released “false narratives” to mislead the world about the April 4 sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, is a dangerous next step in the “fake news” propaganda war launched in the final days of the Obama administration. It is a step whose deep roots in Communist Trotsky’s Fourth International must be understood before deciding whether American democracy can be reclaimed.

Hm. I mostly agree (I think) with Fitzgerald and Gould on the sarin gas attack and "the “fake news” propaganda war launched in the final days of the Obama administration", but while I agree Burnham was very much a conservative from 1945 onwards, and had been a Trotskyist until 1939, I think Burnham's influence on neoconservatism (<-Wikipedia) seems less to me than Fitzgerald and Gould argue (and besides: in 2017, Trotsky dates back at least 77 years).

Here is more on what has been happening the last few years:

Muddying the waters of accountability in a way not seen since Sen. Joe McCarthy at the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s, the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act” signed into law without fanfare by Obama in December 2016 officially authorized a government censorship bureaucracy comparable only to George Orwell’s fictional Ministry of Truth in his novel “1984.” Referred to as “the Global Engagement Center,” the official purpose of this new bureaucracy is to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.”

Yes, I think that is mostly correct, and the reason that Obama's "Disinformation and Propaganda Act" does look like Orwell's Ministry of Truth is that it assigns both propaganda and (secret) surveillance to the government, which seems indeed rather

Then there is this:

The real purpose of this Orwellian nightmare is to cook the books on anything that challenges Washington’s neoconservative pro-war narrative and to intimidate, harass or jail anyone who tries. As has already been demonstrated by President Trump’s firing of Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airbase, it is a recipe for a world war, and like it or not, that war has already begun.

Hm. I agree mostly with the first part, but I disagree with the thesis that "a world war" (..) "has already begun". And yes, I do know this might seem different for Syrian civilians, but - as yet, at least - this is not a world war (and if there is a world war, we will probably all very soon be dead, for the next world war almost certainly will be nuclear).

Then there is this:

As Burnham’s “The Struggle for the World” stressed, the Third World War had already begun with the 1944 Communist-led Greek sailors’ revolt. In Burnham’s Manichean thinking, the West was under siege. George Kennan’s Cold War policy of containment was no different than Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement. Détente with the Soviet Union amounted to surrender. Peace was only a disguise for war, and that war would be fought with politics, subversion, terrorism and psychological warfare. Soviet influence had to be rolled back wherever possible.

I did not read this book of Burnham, but I agree he was a Manicheist (<-Wikipedia), which here must be understood as insisting that there really are both good and evil in the real world and quite apart from human judgements, and that one either is good or else evil.

In contrast, I think all judgements of good and evil are human judgements, that correspond to their own private values from which the available facts are judged (in very many quite different ways - and no, I am not much worried by either the sub- jectivity or the humanity that both enter into these kinds of judgements [1]).

As historian Christopher Lasch wrote in 1969 of the CIA’s cooptation of the American left, “The modern state … is an engine of propaganda, alternately manufacturing crises and claiming to be the only instrument that can effectively deal with them. This propaganda, in order to be successful, demands the cooperation of writers, teachers, and artists not as paid propagandists or state-censored time-servers but as ‘free’ intellectuals capable of policing their own jurisdictions and of enforcing acceptable standards of responsibility within the various intellectual professions.”

Actually - I checked it - this quotation of Lasch continues as follows in the 1969-original (but not in Fitgerald and Gould's text):

A system like this presupposes two things: a high degree of professional consciousness among intellectuals, and general economic affluence which frees the patrons of intellectual life from the need to account for the money they spend on culture. Once these conditions exist, as they have existed in the United States for some time, intellectuals can be trusted to censor themselves, and crude ‘political’ influence over intellectual life comes to seem passé.

Yes indeed, for this corresponds quite closely to what I found in the University of Amsterdam:

The intellectuals who worked there, at least between 1971 and 1995,  when it was formally run by "the students", who were in fact mostly "communists" [2] between 1971 and 1983, and postmodernists from 1984 till 1995, were paid very well, and hardly needed to work at all, and indeed 19 out of 20 systematically betrayed the norms of science they were supposed and paid to uphold.

My own conclusion from this fact, already in the 1980ies, together with the fact that none of the academics were in any sense forced to do so, is that 95% of the academic élites is too well-paid or too egoistic to care much for others, in spite of their (then and there) strongly "leftist" pretensions: In fact, most academics will side with the existing holders of power, who indeed also pay them well.

I still think that conclusion is quite correct (and based on a whole lot of experience) and for this reason I have very little trust in the majority of scientists, academics and intellectuals: There certainly are good and honest ones, but they are in the minority (in the over 25 years of my experiences with the University of Amsterdam).

Then there is this on Burnham:

Burnham was more than just at hand when it came to secretly implanting a fascist philosophy of extreme elitism into America’s Cold War orthodoxy. With “The Machiavellians,” Burnham had composed the manual that forged the old Trotskyist left together with a right-wing Anglo/American elite. The political offspring of that volatile union would be called neoconservatism, whose overt mission would be to roll back Russian/Soviet influence everywhere. Its covert mission would be to reassert a British cultural dominance over the emerging Anglo/American Empire and maintain it through propaganda.

Hm. I agree that the later Burnham was a conservative and an elitarian, but I don't think he was a fascist. As to the rest of this paragraph, I have found little evidence
that supports the conclusions of Fitzgerald and Gould, and as I said, Burnham is totally missing in the Wikipedia's neoconservatism.

This is the last bit that I'll quote from this article, and it is from near the end:

As George Orwell wrote in his “Second Thoughts on James Burnham”: “What Burnham is mainly concerned to show [in The Machiavellians] is that a democratic society has never existed and, so far as we can see, never will exist. Society is of its nature oligarchical, and the power of the oligarchy always rests upon force and fraud. … Power can sometimes be won and maintained without violence, but never without fraud.”

In fact, here is a link to the whole text of Second Thoughts on James Burnham”, that starts with Orwell's summary of Burnham's "The Managerial Revolution", that I quote to show that Burnham is interesting:
Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralised society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic. The rulers of this new society will be the people who effectively control the means of production: that is, business executives, technicians, bureaucrats and soldiers, lumped together by Burnham, under the name of ‘managers’. These people will eliminate the old capitalist class, crush the working class, and so organise society that all power and economic privilege remain in their own hands. Private property rights will be abolished, but common ownership will not be established. The new ‘managerial’ societies will not consist of a patchwork of small, independent states, but of great super-states grouped round the main industrial centres in Europe, Asia, and America. These super-states will fight among themselves for possession of the remaining uncaptured portions of the earth, but will probably be unable to conquer one another completely. Internally, each society will be hierarchical, with an aristocracy of talent at the top and a mass of semi-slaves at the bottom.
Since this is Orwell's 1946 summary of Burnham's 1941 book, and since the summary does more or less correspond to the present capitalist system, I think both Burnahm and Orwell were on to something in the 1940ies.

I have reviewed the four parts of this series as well as I could (in the limited time I have, in which I also have to work with limited health), but it turned out to be a little disappointing for me, for while I probably mostly agree with Fitzgerald and Gould on their appraisals of the present, I found it harder to agree on their historical explanation.

4. Why is this proposal for the G93.3 legacy terms for ICD-11 so important?

The fourth and last article today is by Suzy Chapman on Dx Revision Watch. It is here because I have ME/CFS for 38 years now and I never got any help nor any admission by the Dutch bureaucrats that I was and am ill:

This starts as follows:

The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is the standard diagnostic classification of diseases for use in epidemiology, health management, clinical practice and reimbursement. ICD-10 has been translated into 43 languages and is used by WHO member states in over 100 countries.

It provides a common language for reporting and monitoring the incidence and prevalence of diseases and other health problems. This allows for global comparison and data sharing in a consistent, standardized way between hospitals, regions and countries and over periods of time.

ICD is used to report and summarize an episode of care after the event. Data recorded on many types of medical information and other records, including death certificates, provides the basis for analyses of national mortality and morbidity statistics by WHO member states, which are used to inform decision-makers and commissioners and to monitor health related spending.

Users include physicians, nurses, allied health care providers, researchers, health information managers and technology workers, coders, policy-makers and insurers (..).

1 World Health Organization http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/revision/icd11faq/en/

ICD-11 is an electronic product designed to be used in computerized health information systems and will link to other globally used clinical terminology systems, like SNOMED CT.

Inappropriate classification of the G93.3 “legacy” categories for ICD-11 will negatively influence perceptions of the disease and the clinical care that patients receive throughout the world ‒ with implications for service commissioning, the types of medical investigations and treatments that clinicians are prepared to consider and medical insurers prepared to fund, the provision of welfare benefits, social care, disability adaptations, education and workplace accommodations.

There is considerably more in the original, and Suzy Chapman is quite correct on the
overriding - bureaucratic - importance of the ICD, and in fact has been busy since 2010 (!!) in trying to make the ICD-classification of
ME/CFS more sensible than it is now.

She is also right that this probably will become quite important to many patients.
I do hope her proposals will make it, and I refer you to the last link for more in case you are interested.


[1] I mention this mostly because Bertrand Russell was worried about the human subjectivity of or morals (and ethics). I am not.

[2] I wrote "communists" between quotes because I did not (and do not) believe any of these "communist" students was a real communist, simply because both of my parents were real communists who both had survived being in the resistance against the Nazis (who also murdered my grandfather for resisting them): I know what real communists were, and none of the "communist" students I knew of - although many were (briefly, between 1977 and 1983, mostly) members of the Dutch Communist Party - were remotely similar to my communist parents. In fact, I think they were all deceivers, though I am willing to agree that in the 1970ies and 1980ies many also deceived themselves.

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