Jan 19, 2017
Crisis: Snowden, Manning *2, Trump vs. CIA, Trump Not Sane (Spiegel)
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Russia Allows Edward Snowden to Remain Through 2020
2. Jeremy Scahill on Obama's Commutation of Chelsea Manning &
     Continued Demonization of Edward Snowden

Chelsea Manning's Attorneys: Obama's Commutation Will Help
     Save Life of Jailed Army Whistleblower

Trump's Fight with the CIA Is a Danger to All of Us
Mr. Me - No One Loves the 45th President Like Donald Trump

This is a Nederlog of January 19, 2017. It may be that there will be no Nederlog tomorrow, because I have troubles with my teeth again.

This is a
crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Edward Snowden, who has been allowed to stay in Russia through 2020 (which is very good, I think); item 2 is about Jeremy Scahill on the previous decision and on the release of Manning in 2017 (which I welcome, although I am still a bit amazed); item 3 is about how important Obama's decision is for Manning's life; item 4 is about an article about Trump's fight with the CIA; and item 5 is about an article in Spiegel International
that basically agrees with me (and many other psychologists and psychiatrists) that
Trump is not sane.

As for today (January 19, 2017): I have yesterday attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Today, suddenly both are OK. I merely register this here, and hope it lasts.

Incidentally, the message I attached to the openings of both of my sites may be incorrect: On the third step you also may have to reload the index again to be abled to see the real last file...

Again, I am very sorry and did not want nor produce any of the mistakes: The responsibilties for these are with my providers and/or some anonymous secret service, simply because both sites worked well for resp. 19 and 11 years, and what they are doing now - making it impossible to see the latest files I wrote - is much more complicated than simply doing things correctly as they were done for resp. 19 and 11 years.

But I do not know who is responsible, except that it is not me, while I pay for decently working sites, that I do not get anymore.
1. Russia Allows Edward Snowden to Remain Through 2020

The first item is by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

Edward Snowden’s exile in Russia looks set to continue after authorities in the country reportedly signed off on a new three-year visa for the former National Security Agency contractor.

Snowden, who leaked a trove of documents about NSA mass surveillance programs in 2013, was granted asylum in Russia in August that year. His residency permit was due to expire this year, but on Wednesday, Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said in a statement that the permit has now been extended to 2020. Kucherena added that in 2018 Snowden will qualify to apply for Russian citizenship.

I say! I do so because I did not know this, and I like the news. Also - seeing that Russia is one of the safest places for Snowden - my advice would be to apply for Russian citizenship (but I don't know whether Snowden will do so).

Here is some more, also about Chelsea Manning:

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentence of another high-profile leaker, Chelsea Manning, who passed hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department diplomatic cables and other documents to WikiLeaks. But Snowden does not appear to be next on Obama’s clemency list.

A petition with more than a million signatures has urged Obama to pardon the NSA whistleblower. But White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that “Mr. Snowden has not filed paperwork to seek clemency from this administration.”
I quoted this mostly to say that the White House has sick triflers in its service: What an  idiot is Earnest!

And here are Snowden's opinions:

Snowden has said that he would be willing to return to the U.S. to face a fair trial, but does not believe that he would receive one because he is charged under the Espionage Act and he would therefore not be allowed to make a public interest defense for his actions. “I’d volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose,” Snowden told Wired magazine in 2014. “But we can’t allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal. I’m not going to be part of that.”

I agree and this is a recommended article.

2. Jeremy Scahill on Obama's Commutation of Chelsea Manning & Continued Demonization of Edward Snowden

The second item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This has the following introduction:
While President Obama has commuted the sentence of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, the administration has indicated it has no plans to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said last week, "The release of the information [Manning] provided to WikiLeaks was damaging to national security. But the disclosures by Edward Snowden were far more serious and far more dangerous." We speak to The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill, author of the recent piece, "The True Scandal of 2016 was the Torture of Chelsea Manning."
Here is Schahill:
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, there are clear differences between what Chelsea Manning did and the way that Chelsea Manning has been treated and Edward Snowden. But I do reject the idea that they’re using Edward Snowden as sort of a stepladder to justify this. The reality is that President Obama should have issued a full pardon to Chelsea Manning and should have never allowed the kind of abuse that she’s endured to go on for this period.
I agree with Schahill, but Obama simply did not want to help Manning before. Also - as I have indicated before - I am still rather amazed that Obama did release Manning now, after seven years of imprisonment, with 28 years to go.

Here is the last bit of Scahill that I'll quote from this article:
JEREMY SCAHILL: But not a single document that Chelsea Manning is known to have released was a top-secret document. And I think that’s a technical distinction from what Edward Snowden did. And I think that that’s part of why Josh Earnest is saying this. But let’s be clear: Edward Snowden also is a whistleblower deserving of an embrace from people who believe in democracy. We understand now the breaking news today was that the Russian government is saying it’s extending Edward Snowden’s ability to stay in Russia for two more years. And a senior Russian official rejected the suggestion by former acting CIA Director Mike Morell that Snowden should be handed over to the U.S. by Putin as a thank you gift to the incoming President Donald Trump, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said it’s curious that a former director of the CIA actually views the giving of people as a gift, and it says a lot about the United States. But, no, I think that the White House is using Edward Snowden in an attempt to justify the commutation of the sentence of Chelsea Manning. I’m ecstatic that Obama did even this.
Yes, I entirely agree. And this is a recommended article.

3. Chelsea Manning's Attorneys: Obama's Commutation Will Help Save Life of Jailed Army Whistleblower

The third item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:

In one of his final acts in office, President Obama shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners and pardoned 64 individuals on Tuesday. The list included Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who is now set to be freed on May 17, after Obama reduced her sentence from 35 years to seven. According to her attorneys, she is already the longest-held whistleblower in U.S. history. Manning leaked more than 700,000 classified files and videos to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. foreign policy. She has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. We speak with Nancy Hollander, Manning’s appellate attorney, and Chase Strangio of the ACLU, who represents Manning in a lawsuit against the Pentagon for denial of medical care related to her gender dysphoria.

And here is first Chase Strangio:

CHASE STRANGIO: Well, I just—I first want to thank you and everyone who supported Chelsea over the years. The reality is that this was a mass mobilization effort, keeping her story alive, led by Chelsea herself and all of the people who made sure that nobody forgot the justice that she fought for and the incredible symbol of democratic principles and advocacy that she really embodies. Yesterday was an incredible day for us who care about her. As I’ve said time and time again, President Obama really had her life in his hands. And it’s such a relief that he acted on the side of mercy and justice here.

I say. Would this be the reason for Obama's decision? I have no idea. Here is the last bit I'll quote from this article:

AMY GOODMAN: You believe she was the longest-held whistleblower?

CHASE STRANGIO: Yeah, absolutely. She has served seven years already. The 35-year sentence was egregious at the time. It’s particularly egregious in retrospect. And she has served seven years. It is absolutely preposterous to hear people saying that there are no consequences for her actions. She has been tortured and imprisoned, denied basic medical care. She has suffered so much, and it is time for her to be free.
I agree.

4. Trump's Fight with the CIA Is a Danger to All of Us

The fourth item is by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

“You take on the intelligence community and they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you,” said Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer to Rachel Maddow last weekend. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

Schumer’s candid comment was a rare admission of how things really work in Washington. If a president crosses a powerful agency, that agency’s officials may fight back with a diverse playbook of "off-the-record" tactics. Weapons in the interagency wars include leaks, threats of prosecution, bureaucratic sleight of hand, and “slow-walking” urgent directives.
This is a
crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links:

In fact, there also are stronger threats, also listed in this article.

But I should start this review with saying that I agree with the title, but that I also think that Donald Trump is a major danger as American president, because I think - as a psychologist - that he is insane.

And it pleases me to add today that not only am I - by far - not the only one with knowledge of psychology to say so (see here), but I now find Spiegel on "my" side (which is the side of the psychologically learned), for that basically agrees with the diagnosis - and see item 5 below.

Here is some more on the struggle between the CIA and the president-elect (who gets to be president tomorrow):

“The relationship is the worst of any incoming administration ever,” said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA official, in an interview with AlterNet. “You have to go back to Nixon to find a president with as strong negative views about the agency. But the agency did not get this kind of public disparagement from Nixon.”

The increasingly naked power struggle pits the incoming president who shows little respect for the traditions of the CIA-White House relationship and a $15 billion-a-year agency that depends on those traditions for its global influence and power.

Here is a question I do not know the answer to: What would happen if president Trump were to decide to cut the CIA's payments or halve them? I have no idea.

Here is Morley's expectation:

What seems certain is that the Trump-CIA struggle will continue both publicly and privately. On Sunday, outgoing CIA director John Brennan warned Trump about the folly of ignoring the agency’s work. Trump responded with another Twitter blast, accusing Brennan of leaking the wholly unverified dossier claiming Russia has compromising information on the president-elect.

That is, on the assumption that Trump is not able or not willing to stop paying the CIA, about which I have no idea.

Here is Morley on leaking:

But illegal leaks are the norm for the power struggles in Washington. (Only dissidents who seek to intervene in such power struggles from outside Washington—think Dan Ellsberg, Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning—are likely to face prosecution for such violations of the law. Independent reporters working for big news organizations—think James Risen and James Rosen—may face legal harassment but not charges.)

He is right about that. This is from near the end of the article:

Is the CIA a law-breaking agency with an undemocratic history? And: do the president and U.S. policymakers need an intelligence service to deliver timely and accurate information on which to base their decisions?

The answer to both questions, in my opinion, is yes.

Whether an ignorant president or a runaway CIA is the greater danger to American democracy will be a central issue of the Trump presidency.

I agree, but I add that not only is "the CIA a law-breaking agency with an undemocratic history" but also that (in my psychologist's opinion) Trump is not sane. And as to Trump's sanity, there now is the following article in Spiegel International:

5. Mr. Me - No One Loves the 45th President Like Donald Trump

The fifth and last item in this Nederlog is by Markus Feldenkirchen, Thomas HŘetlin, Nils Minkmar, and Gordon Repinski on Spiegel International:
This starts as follows (and takes two pages on Spiegel International):
To understand how the future president of the United States thinks and acts, a look back at how he treated one of his former employees can be helpful.
I agree, but if you want to read that particular story, click on the last dotted link: I skip it in this review and turn to the first general conclusion about Trump in Spiegel International:

In Trump's world, even just the appearance of disloyalty is an unforgivable sin. He encourages his readers to react in such cases with brutal vengeance. Ultimately, the woman lost her home and her husband left her, Trump relates. "I was glad." In subsequent years, he continued speaking poorly of her, he writes. "Now I go out of my way to make her life miserable."

At the end of the chapter called "Revenge," Trump advises his readers to constantly seek to take revenge. "Always make a list of people who hurt you. Then sit back and wait for the appropriate time to get revenge. When they least expect it, go after them with a vengeance. Go for their jugular."

In fact - as readers of Montefiore's "Stalin - The Court of the Red Czar" may remember - this taste for revenge is very close to Stalin's taste for the same. [1] Here is some more:
For months, many have been talking about Trump's lack of maturity and his insufficient dignity for one of the most powerful and honorable political offices in the world.
Yes, I agree - but I must add that, while I have been reading through 32 magazines and papers every day (in part, to be sure) for more than three years, I have not found much qualified support for these obvious fears and problems about a man who will be able to blow up everyone from tomorrow onwards.

And while I did find some, I did not find much by psychologists or psychiatrists, which is again at least a little strange. And that Trump is both immature and undignified is quite true, but these are not the only problems Trump has.

But first, here is Spiegel on Trump's character:

His reactions have become totally predictable, no matter whether he is responding to a perceived slight from an employee, a reporter, an actress or the intelligence community. There is no nuance in his retribution; it is always excessive.

Trump's behavior can often be reduced to a simple question: Was somebody nice to me or not? It usually doesn't get much more complex than that.
Yes indeed - I agree. Then again, what is much worse than that is the following, with which I also agree and as a psychologist:

Trump displays the classic worldview and behavioral patterns of people who suffer from narcissism. Even as psychologists are generally unwilling to offer diagnoses of people they have not met in person, many have made an exception when it comes to Trump, in part because he exhibits so many of the symptoms.

Howard Gardner, a professor of developmental psychology at Harvard University, described the incoming president several years ago as "remarkably narcissistic." Clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis attributes to Trump a "textbook narcissistic personality disorder." His colleague George Simon even uses videos of Trump to illustrate the disorder in seminars.

I agree mostly, and indeed have given the same names as evidence of a few psychologists and psychiatrists who agreed with me, but while I agree that I am one of the psychologists who found that Trump obviously satisfies all 9 marks of a megalomaniac [2], I don't quite agree on psychologists and psychiatrists, but keep my remarks in a note [3].

Here is what megalomaniacs (aka narcissists in psychiatry) think and want, among other things:

Experts say that the classic behaviors associated with narcissism include: an outsized need for attention, recognition and admiration; the inability to feel empathy; constant self-absorption; and grotesquely exaggerated self-praise. For narcissists, the world around them is only interesting insofar as it reflects themselves. Those suffering from the disorder are so hypersensitive to criticism that everyone who withholds admiration is seen as an enemy.

Extreme narcissists, research results show, are so addicted to attention and admiration that they frequently tell lies. And they are so convinced of their own merit that they are incapable of feeling regret: In their eyes, the admission of error is not a sign of greatness, rather it detracts from their grandiosity.

Yes indeed, and everything in the last two paragraphs applies to Donald Trump.
And here is a characteristic of Trump's many tweets:

Trump writes only two types of tweets: those in which he praises either himself or people who have been nice to him; and those in which he attacks those who have not. There is very little room for differentiation or nuance and there are few tweets that don't have directly to do with his favorite subject: Trump. When he recently sent out Christmas greetings to his followers, it didn't show his family gathered together. Rather, it was a picture of just Donald Trump, alone in front of a decorated tree. In Trump's Twitter world, his private life is political.

Precisely - and such a man is not sane, and an insane man capable of firing atomic weapons at everyone is a very great risk for absolutely everyone.

Here is the last bit I'll quote from this article:

If you follow him on Twitter, it quickly becomes clear that the world of the man who has pledged to return America to greatness is rather small. The only thing important to Trump is his dominance, or the perfect illusion of his dominance. In order to maintain this illusion, Trump must also display his dominance over facts that might sully this perfect image. That's why he claims via Twitter that he has never insulted anybody even though there are videos proving the contrary.

Yes indeed - and (to repeat myself:) such a man is not sane, and an insane man capable of firing atomic weapons at everyone is a very great risk for absolutely everyone.

[1] I admit I recall this but could not quickly find it in the 720 pages of "Stalin - The Court of the Red Czar", and "Revenge" also is not in the index. I have read it there, so I will try to find it, for I think the similarity is quite striking (and Stalin also was not sane and was probably also a megalomaniac (given how extremely fond he was of praise and seeing his own portrait everywhere)).

[2] I am sorry, but I think "megalomaniac" (which is proper English since a long time) is a better term than the psychiatrese "grandiose narcissist", that is both pretty recent and part of psychiatry's current jargon that will probably rapidly change. I prefer megalomaniac as long as I am writing English.

First of all, it is specifically the American Psychiatric Association that insists that its members should not diagnose anyone they have not met (and these are not psychologists). Second, that insistence is unscientific, and especially about powerful persons that will not allow being seen or diagnosed. Third, much of the supposed harm being done by "diagnoses" of people one anyway is not allowed to diagnose can be avoided by speaking, instead, of a "professional opinion".

       home - index - summaries - mail