who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. If You Can’t Beat ’Em: France, Up In Arms Over NSA
Spying, Passes New
2. The Greatest Obstacle to
and Bigotry: Reality
3. 'Enough is Enough!' Sanders
Declares Corporate Greed
US Drone Program to Remain in Shadows as Obama
Abandons Key Reform Promise
Anatomy of Hell
is a Nederlog of Thursday June 25, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 links: Item 1 is about how the French cope with being spied
upon: As long as the president isn't, while all the
rest is, it is fine (that isL according to the French government); item 2 is about how serious terrorism has been, the
last 14 years, in the U.S.; item 3 is about Bernie
Sanders; item 4 is about a U-turn by Obama: droning
will continue to be done mostly in secret; and item 5
is about the hell of Nazi
concentration camps, where my father's father was murdered, and
that my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days of, and which
form part of my motivation to write about the present crisis.
If You Can’t Beat ’Em: France, Up In Arms Over NSA Spying, Passes New
The first item today is an article by Martin Untersinger on The
This starts as follows:
I am not amazed: Of
course today's politicians want their governments to know
everything possible about the populations they control. (In case you
disagree: I am sorry, but while I agree there are here and
there some political exceptions who may be mostly sincere, I really
don't think they are the majority.)
On Wednesday, France woke
up to find that the National Security Agency had been snooping on the
phones of its last three presidents.
Top secret documents provided by Wikileaks to
two media outlets, Mediapart and Libération, showed that the NSA had
access to confidential conversations of France’s highest ranking
officials, including the country’s current president, François
Hollande; the prime minister in 2012, Jean-Marc Ayrault; and
former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac.
Yet also today, the lower
house of France’s legislature, the National Assembly, passed a sweeping
surveillance law. The law provides a new framework for the country’s
intelligence agencies to expand their surveillance activities.
Opponents of the law were quick to mock the government for vigorously
protesting being surveilled by one of the country’s closest allies
while passing a law that gives its own intelligence services vast
powers with what its opponents regard as little oversight. But for
those who support the new law, the new revelations of NSA spying showed
the urgent need to update the tools available to France’s spies.
As to "the urgent need to update
the tools available to France’s spies": This does not seem to be so much about the software
tools, but about the fact that, so far,
nearly everything the French spies spied on was done almost completely
any legal context or justication.
There is this, which is true as far as it goes, but which doesn't
verbalize the background:
We’re now aware,
thanks to Snowden, that western intelligence agencies know almost no
boundaries when it comes to spying on friends and foes. We also know
that western intelligence agencies are connected by secret agreements
and exchange large amounts of data that they collect for each other.
The background I mean is that
(1) without Snowden
(<- Wikipedia) we would know very much less, because (2) the
spying that is being done by governments and their secret state police
has been kept as secret as they could keep it (while it is illegal
according to Human Rights ), while (3) the "western intelligence agencies" seem to do the spying for each other:
Thus, the Americans spy on all the English; the English spy on all the
Americans; and then they exchange what they've gathered, while the
agencies spokespersons assure journalists, very sincerely, that
"Of course we don't spy on Our Own People!"
Then there is this (which I can fairly say I predicted already in 2005):
But other parts
of the law have drawn controversy, including the way it defines the
purposes the government can invoke to surveil French residents.
The categories extend well beyond terrorism. Many opponents of the law
think these guidelines are so broad that they could enable
political surveillance. But the key point of disagreement is what the
government calls “black boxes.” The law allows the use of government
equipment inside Internet Service Providers and large web companies to
analyze streams of metadata and find “terrorist” patterns and behaviors.
Of course "[t]he categories extend well beyond terrorism": "terrorism" only is the pretext to
surveil everyone in everything, and of course
the purpose of surveilling everyone in everything is
that it is "political
surveillance". Then again, the
so-called “black boxes” seem to
be the present version of the room
that J. Kirk Wiebe discovered ca. 2007, where the ITT's fiber cables
were tapped by the NSA.
Well... they're now legal in France, with this general result:
The end result is
that most of what France’s intelligence services have been doing
in the dark is now authorized by law.
And the spying of the
French secret state police on everyone simply goes on - and now
Greatest Obstacle to Anti-Muslim Fear-Mongering and
The next item today is
by Glenn Greenwald and Josh Begley on The Intercept:
starts as follows:
The think tank New America issued a
report today documenting “the lethal terrorist incidents in
the United States since 9/11.” It found that a total of 26 Americans
have been killed by “deadly jihadist attacks” in the last 14 years,
while almost double that number – 48 – have been killed by “deadly
right wing attacks.”
In fact, here are the numbers (with references to the
sources on The Intercept):
Incidentally, as Greenwald and Begley clearly state:
If anything, the chart severely understates how exaggerated
the threat is, since it compares the total number of deaths caused by
“Muslim extremists” over the past 14 years to the
number of deaths caused daily or annually by
threats widely regarded as insignificant. This is
the “threat” in whose name the U.S. and its western allies have
radically reduced basic legal protections; created all sorts of
dangerous precedents for invasions, detentions, and targeted killings;
and generally driven themselves to a state of collective hysteria and
indeed - and in case you want to compare the deaths by car with
the deaths by terrorism in the United States on the same basis,
(1) you have to multiply the first number by 365 and (2) multiply that
total deaths by car accidents in the US the last 14 years =
total deaths by
terrorism in the US the last 14 years = 26
grant that if you add the 2977 victims of 9/11 (plus
19 perpetrators) we get this ratio: 490560 : (2977+26) = 163.35.
In either case: Terrorism is a pretext that is used by nearly
all "democratically elected Western governments" to justify their spying
on everyone, which is done because nearly all "democratically elected Western governments" want
to surveil everyone
politically, because then they know what they
think and want, and they can control them.
And indeed the next step is to start arresting (or: disappearing
without explicit notice) people for having different political
convictions from those the government approves.
happened everywhere where the government surveilled everyone.
And I grant it hasn't happened yet in the U.S. or the West.
is Enough!' Sanders Declares
Corporate Greed Must
The next item today is by
Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Democrats on Wednesday took a sharp
U-turn from their previous opposition to President Barack Obama's
corporate-friendly trade agenda, presidential hopeful Senator Bernie
Sanders (Vt.) reiterated his disdain for the Trans-Pacific Partnership
and demanded that the era of "corporate greed must end."
In an op-ed
published at the Huffington Post on Wednesday, the Democratic
candidate hit on a litany of items that have become standard fodder for
his campaign speeches: tax reform, overturning Citizens United,
raising the minimum wage, infrastructure spending, and pay equipty for
women workers, among others.
"The reality of the
American economy," Sanders says, is that "millions of Americans are
working longer hours for lower wages and median family income is almost
$5,000 less than it was in 1999. Meanwhile, the wealthiest people and
the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well."
This is here mainly because
it shows that Senator
Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who speaks the truth (as he said
Here is the beginning of his column (written before fast track was
Greed Must End
Here is the reality
of the American economy. Despite an explosion in technology and a huge
increase in worker productivity, the middle class of this country
continues its 40-year decline. Today, millions of Americans are working
longer hours for lower wages and median family income is almost $5,000
less than it was in 1999.
wealthiest people and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally
well. Today, 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1
percent, while the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth
as the bottom 40 percent. In the last two years, the wealthiest 14
people in this country increased their wealth by $157 billion. That
increase is more than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans --
Over the last 40
years, the largest corporations in this country have closed thousands
of factories in the United States and outsourced millions of American
jobs to low-wage countries overseas. That is why we need a new trade
policy and why I am opposed to the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership
now before Congress.
and their lobbyists have created loopholes enabling corporations to
avoid an estimated $100 billion a year in taxes by shifting profits to
the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. That is why we need
real tax reform which demands that the very wealthy and large
corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.
For more, click the
last dotted link.
US Drone Program to Remain in Shadows as Obama Abandons Key Reform
The next item today
is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
U.S. President Barack
Obama has made a sharp U-turn on his two-year-old promise
to move the CIA's controversial drone program out of the "legal
shadows," according to new
reporting by the Huffington Post.
In a May 2013 speech at
the National Defense University, Obama vowed to move the "out of the
covert shadows and into the relative sunlight of the Defense
Department," writes HuffPo reporter Ali Watkins, who notes
that "[d]rone critics greeted the announcement with cautious optimism,
hoping that a Pentagon-run drone program would be more transparent and
allow more oversight of targeted killings."
But sources tell Watkins
that "[b]ehind closed doors, all of that has changed."
On June 10, the HuffPo
reports, administration officials gave a classified briefing to
lawmakers laying out a blueprint for a new transition plan that would
involve a dual command structure—giving the Defense Department and the
CIA joint control of drone strikes. That blueprint, unnamed officials
told Watkins, is close to complete.
You may be surprised at the
"sharp U-turn on [Obama's]
two-year-old promise" but I am not because I have
learned (since 2009) that what Obama says to the public is always
that serves him best, while he doesn't say anything (or insists that he
"is looking forward rather than backward") if anyone
somehow manages to mention the crimes of his government where he can
hear it, while what he does do, and very well indeeed,
is to serve the corporate interests faithfully.
This is another case:
That is: the president wants
to continue his droning in secret.
The same factor that
caused Obama to want to take the drone program away from the CIA may be
part of the reason the agency is holding onto it: As covert operations,
the agency's drone strikes aren't
subject to the same international laws and domestic oversight as
the Pentagon's. The CIA can more easily operate in countries such as
Pakistan, where local governments may not necessarily sign off on U.S.
The Anatomy of Hell
The last item
today is an article by Richard J. Evans on The New York Review of Books:
The hell spoken of in this
review of six books about the Nazi concentration
camps are the Nazi concentration camps.
I suppose this is here for the following reasons:
1. My father and his father were both
arrested in July 1941 because they were communists and in
the resistance - which in fact was a rather odd thing to
do, in Holland, because while there were some 25,000 Dutch
members of the SS,
there were at most 3,000 Dutchmen involved in the armed resistance
Nazism , and indeed the Dutch also succeeded in
murdering more than 1% of
their total population simply because they were Jewish (many without
having the Jewish faith) and they were poor .
My father survived 3 years 9 months
and 15 days of being a political prisoner; my grandfather was murdered
in a camp also as a political prisoner.
2. I know therefore rather a lot more about the German concentration
camps than the vast majority, in part because my parents (my mother
also was a member of the Dutch communist resistance, but she escaped
arrest) had books about them which I read; in part because they
remained active all their lives both in the communist party and in the
former resistance; and in part because my father, together with
comrades who also survived the Sachsenhausen
concentra- tion camp, made an exhibition about the camps and the
dangers of fascism, for
which my father was knighted briefly before his death , as one of the only two communists who
were knighted in Holland .
3. Because I know rather a lot more about concentration camps and totalita- rianism
than most I fear that the days of totalitarianism are far from
also in Europe and the U.S. - where now everyone
who is not a European president is surveilled as a
matter of course, which means that everyone - except
presidents, or so the NSA assures us (as always without any evidence) -
is thus treated as a potential terrorist who has no right, no
privacy and no defense against being secretly surveilled
by the states' secret police, and having a secret dossier
that may be useful to any future American or European government of any
I outlined this to make clear why I did do two years of crisis
reports: The main reason is that I do know a lot more about totalitarianism
than most, and because
I am afraid it will happen again, indeed perhaps not in the same form
as the Nazis or the Soviet communists, but with similar outcomes: most
intellectuals and most non-conformers will be killed or neutralized,
simply because they do not agree with the beliefs that rule the
governments and the politicians. 
Then again, I am also willing to admit that a major cause for my
about the present crisis is the crisis of the
1930ies that destroyed so much of
the chances and the lives of my own family, and indeed of many tens
or hundreds of millions of their contemporaries, although I also
insist that - so far as I can see - the main moving factor is the
considerable knowledge I have of totalitarianism. 
Anyway - this is a good review, and it starts as follows:
In the popular
imagination, the Nazi concentration camp now features mainly as a place
where Jews were taken to be gassed. In a recent German opinion poll,
most respondents associated the camps with the persecution and murder
of Jews; under 10 percent mentioned other categories of camp prisoners,
such as Communists, criminals, or homosexuals. The power of the
“Holocaust” as a concept has all but obliterated other aspects of the
crimes of the Nazis and the sufferings of their victims and driven the
history of the camps from cultural memory. No crime in human history
outdoes the genocidal extermination of six million European Jews on the
orders of the leader of Germany’s self-styled “Third Reich.” Yet the
majority of the Jewish victims of Nazi mass murder were not killed in
the camps; they were shot, starved to death, or left to die of diseases
that could easily have been prevented or treated but were not. The
concentration camp was in no way synonymous with the Holocaust.
In fact there were at least two kinds of concentration
Those meant to destroy (mostly) Jews ("Vernichtungslager" (German) i.e.
camp of destruction a.k.a. extermination
camps) and those meant to punish (mostly) non-Jewish opponents of
the Nazis ("KZ" for "Konzentrationslager" (German) i.e. concentration
And there were considerably more concentration camps than there were
destruction camps, although the destruction camps tended to be larger.
This is from the review of the first of the six reviewed books, "KL:
A History of Geman Concentration Camps" by Nikolaus Wachsmann, that
seems best (not only according to Richard J. Evans):
gripping, humane, and beautifully written narrative begins with the
establishment of the first of the Nazi camps, at a disused munitions
factory outside the town of Dachau, near Munich. During the first half
of 1933, as Hitler gathered the reins of power to himself, makeshift
camps were improvised were all over Germany to incarcerate Communists
and Social Democrats, the main political groups who resisted the Nazis’
violent seizure of power. Only gradually were these closed down, with
the release of the prisoners, many of whom had been badly beaten and
tortured (even the official estimate reckoned that over six hundred
were murdered by the Nazis), on promise of refraining from political
engagement. By 1934, as Wachsmann showed in his previous book, Hitler’s
Prisons (2004), the function of political repression had been taken
over by the police, the courts, and the regular state prisons and
Incidentally, the fact that "the function of political repression had been
taken over by the police, the courts, and the regular state prisons and
penitentiaries" is in
considerable part due to the fact that these institutions were all
(and were controlled from the beginning by, first, Goering and
Next, there is this on the proportion of Jews in camps:
How many of the
prisoners were actually Jewish? For most of the period of the camps’
existence, up to the final phase of the war, Wachsmann reckons that
Jews made up no more than 10 percent of the inmate population.
Incidentally, this means that
at least 20 million persons have been imprisoned in some German
There is this about the very beginning of the German concentration
camps, that started within days of Hitler's taking power, and with the concentration
The first four
inmates of Dachau to be murdered were all claimed by the Nazis to be
Communists, but they were also, not coincidentally, Jews; from every
truckload of new prisoners in 1933 the SS selected
Jews for beating and torture, and in other camps they were treated with
a special, sadistic savagery. From the late 1930s onward, Jewish
inmates were made to wear a special badge singling them out as Jewish,
in addition to or instead of the colored triangles identifying them as
political, criminal, or “asocial.” This made their persecution even
easier than before.
Incidentally, while this is
all true, there was another group that was "treated with a special, sadistic savagery"
(as my father testified): Soviet soldiers (who were locked up in
There is this on the mass extermination of the Jews:
Then from 1941
onward, as the Nazis’ program of mass extermination of Jews began to
unfold, Jewish inmates were removed and taken to extermination centers,
where they were killed along with Jews brought from every part of
Europe over which the Nazis had control. By the time the war ended, the
Nazi need for workers who could contribute to the war economy was
bringing increasing numbers of Jews into the camp system rather than
the gas chambers—overwhelmingly, adult men rather than women, the old,
or the very young, whom the SS did not consider
capable of work. Even at this stage, however, Wachsmann estimates that
only a third of the camp population consisted of Jews.
So far, I've only excerpted
half of this. I will leave the rest to your interests (click the last
dotted link) but select one more bit, because it fits very well with my
Helm rejects the common view that the inmates all passively accepted
Yes, indeed: In fact, my father did survive 3 years, 9 months
and 15 days of imprisonment as a "political prisoner" (with a red
triangle) because he was a part of the communist resistance
inside the concentration camps, which also helped him to get medical
jobs (at which, being very intelligent, he was quite good).
The last link is to my father's testimony. In any case, this made clear
some of my motives to write about the present crisis.
were also some 10,000-30,000 persons who resisted without arms, by
illegally hiding Jews (risking the deaths of themselves and all of
their families) or by printing or spreading illegal papers. But that is
it - there were about as many Dutch persons resisting in various ways,
as there were Dutch volunteers for the SS (who were all in their late
teens to early thirties).
Also, the only groups that went into armed resistance was the Dutch
Communist Party, to which my father and grandfather belonged, and
some Protestant groups. There was little armed resistance outside these
two kinds of groups, and also most of the members of these groups were
arrested, though not all.
It is rather relevant that many of the over 100,000 Dutch Jews that
were murdered were not religious (indeed, many were atheists,
socialists, anarchists, or communists) and that they were poor:
One of the main reasons so many of the Dutch Jews were murdered is that
the SS collaborated with the Jewish Council and especially with David Cohen and Abraham
Asscher, who were two rich Jews, who had a deal with Rauter,
who led the SS in Holland, to the effect that if they helped round up
the Dutch poor Jews, they themselved would be saved. Rauter
kept word until the end of the war, while Cohen and Asscher helped him
- among other things - by strongly advocating in 1941 that everyone who
was jewish in the racist Nazi sense should register himself or
herself as a jew in the official registries of persons, where
that was not done until WW II.
Most did, and therefore they could be very easily rounded up, a
little later, as racial jews. (And no, Cohen and Asscher were not
punished, and did not even have to face a court, rather like the judges
of the Dutch Supreme Court, all of whom collaborated, and who simply
continued after the liberation. Again, the same is true of nearly all
Yes, he was (but he died a little over 2 months later).
And why were Dutch communists not knighted? Because -
obviously, most Dutchmen thought - they were "traitors of Our
Fatherland". This was sick bullshit (and my parents decided - unlike
most Dutch families, who went for Canadian and English names - that all
their children would get Dutch names, and they did)
but it worked quite well, and indeed my parents also were insulted that
way, at least until the 1960ies.
Also, my father was knighted for what he did for the National
Exhibition about Resistance and Fascism, after WW II. The only Dutch
communist who was knighted for what he did in the war was Jan
Brasser, who was the head of the resistance in North-Holland, and
could not be avoided.
For this happened in Germany, in Austria, in Italy, in Spain, in the
Soviet Union, and in China, for example, that is, under both rightist
and leftist totalitarian
have always been much against totalitarianism, and this was a quite
important reason I left the Dutch Communist Party aged 20, in 1970,
even though my parents were then 25 to 35 years members of that party.
They were disap-
pointed, but then I had not survived a concentration camp thanks to my
communist. Also, I saw both that fact and that my parents were morally
very sincere and honest, so we did not have strong or long
Here I admit that (i) the present "European Human Right Laws" are not
that, but much rather are "European Legalized Spying Laws" because to all
the classical Human Rights there have been attached long lists
of exceptions which allow the the states' secret spies
to spy all they can, while (ii) I have so far not tried to investigate
this, so all I can do on the moment is refer you to the classical -
1948 - Declaration of Human Rights,
while adding that I do not know whether that set of excellent
rules now is part of the law in any country. (I would not
be amazed if these excellent rules have been everywhere replaced by the
"Legalized Spying Laws", but then
again I also do not know that.)