This starts as follows
(and is very well worth
reading in full):
in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an
increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with
reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and
order [...] and the like.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice
Bottle up the
champagne, pack away the noisemakers, and toss out the party hats.
There is no
cause for celebration.
We have secured
no major victories against tyranny.
achieved no great feat in pushing back against government overreach.
For all intents
and purposes, the National Security Agency has supposedly ceased its
bulk collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, but read the
fine print: nothing is going to change.
I think this is fundamentally correct,
though one might differ in opinion about the language that is used.
Here is part of the explanation, and again
I think this is fundamentally correct, though I would phrase it
The USA Freedom
Act, which claimed
to put an end to the National Security Agency’s controversial
collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, was just a
placebo pill intended to make us feel better and let the politicians
take credit for reforming mass surveillance.
In other words,
it was a sham, a sleight-of-hand political gag pulled on a gullible
public desperate to believe that we still live in a constitutional
republic rather than a down-and-out, out-of-control,
corporate-controlled, economically impoverished, corrupt, warring,
restrain the NSA. The beast has outgrown its chains.
reform the NSA. A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the
law, and then absolves itself of wrongdoing does not voluntarily alter
You cannot put
an end to the NSA’s “technotyranny.” Presidents, politicians, and court
rulings have come and gone over the course of the NSA’s 60-year
history, but none of them have managed to shut down the government’s
secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails, text messages,
transactions, communications and activities.
Yes. Specifically, I agree with this, which
is correct as stated:
"A government that lies, cheats, steals, sidesteps the law,
and then absolves itself of wrongdoing does not voluntarily alter its
And the American government indeed "lies,
cheats, steals, sidesteps the law, and then absolves itself of
wrongdoing", and it can do so in considerable
part because most members of the
Senate and of Congress approve or at least do not disapprove of the lies,
thefts and sidesteppings of the law.
As to the NSA: It does exist 60 years, but "the
government’s secret surveillance of Americans’ phone calls, emails,
text messages, transactions, communications and activities" mostly dates back to 9/11 and afterward, when mass
surveillance was introduced, even though this was in explicit contradiction with the
Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. 
There is one party that was hugely complicit in helping the NSA but
that is not mentioned here: The great majority of the American
politicians in the Senate and the House. I think these people
should have been added, especially in view of this:
government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep niggling,
inconvenient laws aimed at ensuring accountability, bringing about
government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.
It has mastered
the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.
It knows all
too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities
behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And
when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just
plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.
Yes, but this is true mostly because the
majorities in the Senate and in Congress allow these illegal activities of the
government. I do not know why, but one obvious
answer is corruption; another - less likely in my opinion, for these
professional politicians - is fear of terrorists.
More than a
year before politicians attempted to patch up our mortally wounded
privacy rights with the legislative bandaid fix that is the USA Freedom
Act, researchers at Harvard and Boston University documented secret
loopholes that allow the government to bypass Fourth Amendment
protections to conduct massive domestic surveillance on U.S.
extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s
surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.
In much the
same way that the government
moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal
prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing
the same thing for its surveillance programs. By shifting its data
storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country,
is able to bypass constitutional protections against
unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking
data, and other cloud-stored data.
government doesn’t even need to move all of its programs overseas. It
just has to push
the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional
and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”
Credit for this
particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive
Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from
surveillance conducted on foreign soil.
You are adviced to read the last link (Executive
Order 12333): it is indeed a tricky bit of
for now the surveillance is still
practised, but part of the data are not
anymore in the USA. (The reasoning seems to be this: The American
government can be as illegal as it pleases, if the data
it is illegal with are not on
Here is the outcome as phrased by John Rutherford:
Mind you, this
metadata collection now being carried out overseas is just a small
piece of the surveillance pie. The government and its corporate
partners have a veritable arsenal of surveillance programs that will
continue to operate largely in secret, carrying out warrantless mass
surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails,
text messages and the like, beyond the scrutiny of most of Congress and
the taxpayers who are forced to fund its multi-billion dollar secret
black ops budget.
Again I point out that I foresaw something
like this in 2005 (without knowing
anything about mass surveillance) and that I also already then said
that terrorism was a mere pretext:
The American government wants
to know all it can about anyone, and the only rational reason I could then see for
that desire is that they want to
control everyone in
virtually anything. I still think so, and this also has
been the ideal of most spies and of most secret service men (and of quite a few politicians
through the ages): total control that is almost totally missed by those
And there is more:
transformed local police into extensions of the military, the
Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the FBI are
preparing to turn the nation’s police officers into
techno-warriors, complete with iris scanners, body scanners, thermal
imaging Doppler radar devices, facial recognition programs, license
plate readers, cell phone Stingray devices and so much more.
Yes, precisely: In the present USA "“privacy” is reserved exclusively
for government agencies", though I again remark
this was possible only through the
consent of the majority of elected politicians.
And there also is "the corporate
sector", which also sees this
as the way to propagandize
everyone, which again is best possible if one knows everything about the persons one
wants to propagandize (with advertisements
And of course
that doesn’t even begin to touch on the complicity of the corporate
sector, which buys and sells us from cradle to grave, until we have no
more data left to mine. Indeed, Facebook,
Amazon and Google are among the government’s closest competitors
when it comes to carrying out surveillance on Americans, monitoring the
content of your emails, tracking your purchases and exploiting your
social media posts.
understand what data are being shared, with whom, or how the
information is being used,” reports
the Los Angeles Times. “Most Americans emit a stream of
personal digital exhaust — what they search for, what they buy, who
they communicate with, where they are — that is captured and exploited
in a largely unregulated fashion.”
I have two remarks on this, and both are
First, not only are Facebook, Amazon and Google "competitors": They
also are mostly quite willing partners in the US governments criminal and illegal
schemes  to know everything about anyone (without almost anyone knowing what is known about him or her, and without knowing who knows or has access to everything known about him or her,
and without knowing almost any
legal consequences he or she may face based on this secret knowledge held by secret persons in secret services that are defended by
secret courts that
can order anyone not even to speak
about the court orders they may receive).
Second, two reasons all these data can be stolen from almost everyone is that
few consumers understand their
computers properly, while almost everyone very much likes to use these apparatuses
that so few - a couple of percents, I estimate - really understand.
There is also this:
surveilled right down to our genes, thanks to a potent combination of
hardware, software and data collection that scans our biometrics—our
faces, irises, voices, genetics, even our gait—runs them through
computer programs that can break the data down into unique
“identifiers,” and then offers them up to the government and its
corporate allies for their respective uses.
All of those
internet-connected gadgets we just have to have (Forbes refers
to them as “(data)
pipelines to our intimate bodily processes”)—the smart watches that
can monitor our blood pressure and the smart phones that let us pay
for purchases with our fingerprints and iris scans—are setting us
up for a brave new world where there is nowhere to run and nowhere to
Yes, I think that by now almost anyone who
opposes the American government can be sure that he or she has "nowhere to run and nowhere to hide", especially if he or she lives in the
The state's own terrorists aka its secret
services have taken over and know everything. And they are using it for
themselves and their government, and are using it to impose total
control on almost everyone who is not
of the government or is not a
One reason why this
concerns me is the ending of
this article, which is as follows:
In an age of
too many laws, too many prisons, too many government spies, and too
many corporations eager to make a fast buck at the expense of the
American taxpayer, there is no safe place and no watertight alibi. We
are all guilty of some transgression or other, and eventually, we will
all be made to suffer the same consequences in the electronic
concentration camp that surrounds us.
The reason is that my grandfather was
murdered in a German concentration camp, and my father survived more
than 3 years and 9 months of German concentration camps, to which they
had been convicted by Dutch collaborating judges in 1941, who much
disapproved of their resistance against the Nazis that had occupied
Holland in 1940.
And yes, I agree that the spying networks that the state's own
terrorists have woven are much like an electronic concentration camp.
They will even be more like it when well-known people start
disappearing in unaccountable ways. 
As I said above, this article is well worth reading in full.
2. On the Settings addition to the
opening of the site
The second item is a repeat from yesterday:
There is a small but important addition to the opening of the site:
There is now a small file called Settings (on the left, in the
middle) that specifies what are
the preferences for displaying my site well (in Firefox or Seamonkey). (Basically: Verdana 13 points in the Firefox Preferences menu.)
In case the site does not
display well one quite probable cause is
the settings of your browser,
and this may avoid some problems. The choices in settings are fairly standard,
except for the background colors, that relate to the years of my eye
problems, that started in 2012, and still continue, though they are
considerably less than they were. And you do not need to set the background color
to my preference.
If you are using Firefox or Seamonkey, the above settings (which are very easy
to do - and undo - via Edit:Preferences) should make my site work quite
well. In case you are using other browsers, it still will probably
help, but I don't have other browsers, so there you are on your own.
Here is the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution (which now is
illegally avoided by legal bullshit and lies):
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,
supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place
to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment to the US Constitution
The American governments, at least since Bush Jr., all wanted and want
the American people to be insecure in their persons, insecure in their
houses, insecure in their papers, and insecure in their effects because it tries to know everything it can about anyone, without any judicial
reason, in order to control and propagandize them as well as possible.
 No matter what
bullshit and baloney Bush Jr and Obama or their lawyers practised in
the name of the Constitution, it was and is all illegal on any plausible reading of the Fourth
Amendment and other amendments.
 I do not know about less well-known people. That
is: I do not know that they
have been disappearing unaccountably, but I do know about some who got court
orders that forbade them to
speak with anyone except one lawyer about the fact that they had received court orders. These
practices also have nothing to
do with any real democracy, and are out and out authoritarian.