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Nederlog

Sunday, Mar 5, 2017

Crisis: On The Deep State, On 'Russia-gate', On The NSA, On The Guardian


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. The Deep State 2.0
2. The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate’
3.
Trump Wants NSA Program Reauthorized But Won’t Tell
    
Congress How Many Americans It Spies On
4. A beginner’s guide to the Guardian
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday
, March 5, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a new article by Mike Lofgren on the deep state; item 2 is about the - quite crazy - politics behind "Russia-gate"; item 3 is about how extremely little the NSA coughs up about what it does; and item 4 is an explanation of The Guardian by someone who doesn't like it.
March 5: As to the updating problem: The Danish site is OK once again (immediately shows today's NL after uploading); the Dutch site once again got stuck on February 27, for me. Where it stuck for others I have no idea: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. They have been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or someone secret service is.)
1. The Deep State 2.0

The first item today is by Mike Lofgren (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:
This is really a coincidence: Yesterday I had a Nederlog that was only about WikiSpooks that is dedicated to deep politics and the deep state, and today I review a new article by Mike Lofgren who introduced me to the term "deep state" in the beginning of 2016, in fact in a slightly different way as WikiSpooks. [1]

And it really is a coincidence. This article starts as follows:

The prospect of four years of Donald J. Trump’s nonstop rants about imaginary conspiracies against his daughter, wholesale slander against the judicial branch and attacks on the press as enemies of the people has caused some Americans to slip into a comforting form of denial. He will be a blip in our history, they say, because our formal institutions, and the American people, will ultimately prevail against a rogue disruptor.

Others, more hard-boiled, appeal to the powers-that-be that they believe actually run the country regardless of electoral results: the Wise Men, the Power Elite or what I have called the Deep State. These informal power groupings, according to speculation, will attempt to gently but firmly pry Trump’s tiny fingers from the wheel before he sails the ship of state into an iceberg.

A third camp sees Trump as a lesser evil than the Deep State.
Yes indeed. This seems a fair and brief description of three different approaches to Trump's presidency. This is on Trump-As-Savior-Of-The-Poor:
There is little evidence that America will be saved by concealed and powerful forces in the manner of the shadowy Caped Crusader rescuing Gotham City from the deranged Joker, or, alternatively, that the rough-hewn populist good guy Trump is in mortal combat with the Deep State. It is true that he ran as a populist against elite institutions: the power centers of the 1 percent — Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the military-industrial complex — mostly supported his opponent. But his actions so far have strongly reinforced rather than weakened their position.
Mostly yes: Trump is there to help the rich much rather than the poor. About the deep state I have some reservations that mostly stem from the facts that (i) it is really secret and (ii) it seems active with the - totally unevidenced - story that Russia hacked the elections.

There is this on Trump's cabinet:
Trump’s senior government appointments reinforce this impression: his Cabinet, filled with moguls from Big Oil, mega-banking, investment and retail, makes George W. Bush’s Cabinet look like a Bolshevik workers’ council. Even Steve Bannon, Trump’s “alt-right” Svengali, is an alumnus of Goldman Sachs, whose stock has surged 38 percent since the election. The fact that America’s premier corporate raider, Carl Icahn, will be special adviser on regulatory reform, and that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was a Goldman executive for 16 years, does not inspire confidence that economic management will be different from that which piloted us into the 2008 crash.
Yes indeed. Then there is this on Trump and Iran:
After denouncing foreign policy activism, the president and his team are now on a collision course with Iran, threatening to tear up that country’s nuclear agreement with ourselves and five other world powers, engaging in bellicose rhetoric about putting it “on notice,” and even fantasizing a Gulf of Tonkin-like incident between US and Iranian warships. His bluster about reinstating torture appears to have subsided — for now — but Trump is reportedly considering reopening CIA “black sites,” one of the Deep State’s sinister symbols.
I agree. This article ends as follows:
The Deep State is an outgrowth of the illiberal tendencies in liberal democracy, tendencies which have given disproportionate influence to a militarized foreign policy, secrecy and surveillance at home and entrenched disparities of wealth. But, while it has been a grave defect of our governmental system, it was not the worst thinkable permutation of that system. What is now evolving in the West Wing under the troika of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner is something much more sinister.
Hm. First, for the deep state see yesterday, where I outlined my assumptions. Second, in fact I have been saying for quite a while now that Trump is a neofascist as I defined neofascism (without knowing of Trump). And third, it may be that the deep state also furthers neofascism (in my sense) or it may be that they fear Trump for similar reasons
as I do (he is a sick narcissist and doesn't have the knowledge or the intelligence to be the most powerful man on earth), more or less regardless from their other plans.

In any case, I think that one main difference that Trump made is that now all leading American governmental institutions are in Republican hands, and the Republican hands are only interested in getting all the money they can to the few rich, and in taking all the money they can from the many poor. And if that is not their set policy, that is how they are acting.


And this is a recommended article.

2. The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate’

The second item is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts with the following summary which I copy (with a correction) because it is adquate:
The hysteria over “Russia-gate” continues to grow – as President Trump’s enemies circle – but at its core there may be no [one] there while it risks pushing the world toward nuclear annihilation, writes Robert Parry.
Yes indeed.

Also, I have been outlining my position on the "Russian Hacking Of The American Elections" since December last quite enough, and say here only that (i) obviously the Russians hack, but (ii) there is no evidence of Russian hacking of the American elections, while (iii) according to persons who have over 30 years of experience with the NSA and the CIA, American intelligence is more than good enough to find the evidence if it existed, and it didn't.

So I simply agree there is no evidence for any Russian hacking of the American elections, although there is an incredible amount of hysteria, that again seems mostly engineered to ward off attacks on Hillary Clinton, and instead blame the Russians for her loss.

This is from the beginning of the article:
(..) [T]here is a grave danger in playing partisan “gotcha” over U.S. relations with the world’s other major nuclear superpower. If, for instance, President Trump finds himself having to demonstrate how tough he can be on Russia — to save his political skin — he could easily make a miscalculation that could push the two countries into a war that could truly be the war to end all wars – along with ending human civilization. But Democrats, liberals and the mainstream news media seem to hate Trump so much they will take that risk.
Yes, I quite agree - and I am quite amazed that "the mainstream news media seem to hate Trump so much" that they seem quite willing to risk "a miscalculation that could push the two countries into a war that could truly be the war to end all wars". But I agree this is what they seem to be doing.

Here is more about the anti-Russia hysteria on which the Democrats are now engaged:
Official Washington’s Russia hysteria has reached such proportions that New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has even compared the alleged Russian hacking of Democratic emails to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, two incidents that led the United States into violent warfare. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Friedman demanded that the hacking allegations be taken with the utmost seriousness: “That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event. … This goes to the very core of our democracy.”
I say?! Here is Robert Parry's comment:
Before this madness goes any further, doesn’t anyone think that the U.S. intelligence community should lay its cards on the table regarding exactly what the evidence is that Russian intelligence purloined Democratic emails and then slipped them to WikiLeaks for publication? President Obama’s intelligence officials apparently went to great lengths to spread these allegations around – even passing the secrets around overseas – but they never told the American people what the evidence is. The two official reports dealing with the issue were laughably short on anything approaching evidence. They amounted to “trust us.”
Precisely. And as I outlined at the start, there simply has not been given any credible evidence.

This is Parry on Wikileaks:
What’s most important is that the information is genuine and newsworthy.

Frankly, I found the WikiLeaks material far more appropriate for an American political debate than the scurrilous rumors that the Clinton campaign was circulating about Trump supposedly getting urinated on by Russian prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel, claims for which no evidence has been presented.

Yes indeed. There is considerably more in the article that I"ll leave to your interests.
It ends as follows:

What I also have learned over these years is that in Official Washington, power – much more than truth – determines which scandals are taken seriously and which ones are not. “Russia-gate” is revealing that the established power centers of Washington arrayed against Trump – the major news media, the neoconservatives and the Democratic Party – have more power than the disorganized Trump administration.

Perhaps. But one problem is that the Trump administration lies extremely much, while "the established power centers of Washington arrayed against Trump" also massively lies, about Russian hacking, specifically, and about a lot more.

This is a recommended article.

3. Trump Wants NSA Program Reauthorized But Won’t Tell Congress How Many Americans It Spies On

The third item is by Alex Emmons on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

The White House wants Congress to reauthorize two of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs before they expire at the end of the year.

One of them scans the traffic that passes through the massive internet cables going in and out of the U.S. and ends up catching a vast number of American communications in its dragnet.

But how many? Lawmakers have been asking for years, and the intelligence community has consistently refused provide even a ballpark figure.

At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, several members expressed frustration that intelligence chiefs — first under Obama, and now under Trump — have failed to provide any kind of estimate, even in classified briefings.

Yes indeed: The NSA has been spying on anyone who has any computer or cellphone connected to the internet (and may leave the spying on Americans to the British GCHQ,
after which the NSA exchanges the data they gathered on all Brits for the data the British spies gathered about the Americans), and this has been going on since 9/11 at the latest - but the American parliament, supposed to control the American government is still refused almost all data on almost all spying on almost everyone who lives anywhere and has a computer or cellphone connected to the internet.

Incidentally, this is good albeit indirect evidence that there is a deep state, and that the NSA is part of it, but this is an aside.

Then there is this in the article:

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which lapses at the end of the year, allows the NSA to collect vast amounts of domestic internet traffic as long as it maintains it is only “targeting” foreigners. Documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden described two huge surveillance programs that operate under that authority. One program, PRISM, allows the NSA to collect data in bulk from tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. The other program — Upstream — allows the NSA to tap the massive internet cables that carry information in and out of the U.S. and search for communications involving certain foreign “targets” or “selectors”.

As the NSA scans the cables for information on its targets, it also collects information on the Americans those targets are communicating with, as well as entirely unrelated information, such as communications from people who happened to be in the same chat room as a target. Furthermore, the targets can be selected for any “foreign intelligence purpose” — not just counterterrorism.

In fact, I think these are irrelevant bureacratic details, for I believe that the collaborating secret services of the five English speaking nations simply collect everything they can find. And indeed it may very well be that the English GCHQ
collects American data, and the American NSA collects English data, both in order
to jump over bureaucratic legal details, but by and large that is my judgement:

The secret services are capable of getting all the data they want, and they are
also collecting them since 9/11 at the latest, indeed regardless of all laws and all regulations.

This is the end of the article, that is about a far more specific point:

“The NSA has determined that the IP address is an accurate enough indicator of a persons status … to use it to filter out the wholly domestic communications that the NSA is prohibited from acquiring,” she testified. “If it’s accurate enough to enable the NSA to comply with that constitutional obligation, then it’s certainly accurate enough for the estimate.”

I agree with the thesis that the NSA knows easily enough about its own data-gatherings to provide quite accurate estimates, but that it just doesn't want to do this (and no one in the official government seems able or willing to force them, the last 16 years).

And I also guess that the IP address of people is the address under which all the data about all persons with internet-connected computers or cellphones are gathered, in secret.

This is a recommended article.

4. A beginner’s guide to the Guardian

The fourth and last item today is by Darren Allen on OffGuardian:
First something about the OffGuardian, on which this article appears. I was aware of its existence for quite a while now, but for some reason - probably my own browser- settings - I had not seen most of their material, that I did start seeing from the day before yesterday.

There is in fact a whole lot of material (considerably more than I have read so far) and I liked most of what I've read: It is leftish (in a real sense, not in the politically-correct identity-politics that is "leftish" these days, and indeed since the 1970ies [2]); it is fairly intelligent; and most that I read is well-written, and also quite critical of The Guardian
(and mostly rightly so).

Then again, while I liked most that I read, it also seems to be leftish in a sense I recall very well from my leftish youth in the 1960ies: it is very critical especially of the left, and can scorch people for being a little bit less or a little bit more leftist than the writer is.

This article also is a good instance of this leftish tendency (that I dislike). It starts as follows:
The Guardian newspaper is a limited company and has been since 2008 when the Scott Trust was wound up and replaced by The Scott Trust Ltd, which appoints a board comprised of bankers, management consultants, venture capitalists and other classic left-wingers. The paper itself is written nearly exclusively by elite-educated members of the upper middle class. The viewpoint you would expect to come from this privileged set-up is what you do get.
I think that is correct. There is also this:
Murray McDonald, in his Hidden History of the Guardian, explains that The Guardian was launched to undermine working-class leaders of the early 19th century reform movement (whose members were massacred at Peterloo), and during its 150 year history has denounced Ireland’s freedom fighters, Women Suffragettes, Abraham Lincoln’s campaign to end slavery, third world nationalism and pretty much any kind of genuine independence from the system. It supported Tony Blair, even when the worst of his crimes were known and continues to give him uncritical space, it regularly presents official pronouncements as news, regularly disguises adverts for its corporate sponsors as news and regularly finds time to pour bile on Jeremy Corbyn, Julian Assange, Media Lens and Noam Chomsky, who was so appalled by Emma Brocke’s infamous and outrageous distortions he forced them to print a long retraction.
I do not know about the early history of The Guardian until the late 1990ies or early 2000s, for I did not see much of it. I had seen rather a lot of it in the early 1970ies, when I lived in England with an extremely intelligent English woman. She may well
have disagreed with the above very succinct appraisal, and The Guardian certainly appeared to be more leftish in the early 1970ies, but I leave it there, simply for not
knowing much about The Guardian until the 2000s.

But I do agree that as to The Guardian in the 2000s I mostly agree, and would summarize it myself as: The Guardian's viewpoint seems to be Blairite or Blatcherist, which is a mock-socialist form of neo-liberalism. This again is too simple-minded, but
it makes sense as a general orientation.

Next - I am still in the beginning of the article - there is this:
In short, The Guardian is far to the right — just read a few articles by Nick Cohen, Jonathan Freedland or Michael White (with whom I had some correspondence a few years ago about thought-control in his paper) if you doubt where on the actual political spectrum the UK’s ‘leading left-liberal newspaper’ is situated — although they do employ two journalists who are slightly to the left of the rest, namely Owen Jones and George Monbiot.
Unfortunately, rather than disagreeing with Cohen, Freedland and White (whom I agree are rather horrible) most of the rest of the article is given to showing that Owen Jones
and George Monbiot are not leftish enough, and betrayed various leftist ideals and values.

I suppose they are not, from a sufficiently correct radical leftish point of view, but they are the best, or the least bad, that is politically on offer in The Guardian. Also, I recall many fights from the late 1960ies about the correct degree of correct radical leftishness between diverse radical leftishers of that time, and I didn't like it then either.

Then again, I liked the OffGuardian considerably more than not and I also recommend this article, not because I agree with establishing the deviance of the correct leftish standards of Jones and Monbiot, but because it does also give some information about the history and the background of The Guardian.

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Notes

[1] Incidentally, while the term "deep state" was new to me in the beginning of 2016, the concept - of a shadow goverment behind the official government - was not at all new to me. See here - which I will renew soon.

[2] For then I met it in the University of Amsterdam. I do not think the terms "politically correct" and "identity-politics" existed, but both totalitarian tendencies were there apart from the name: The prescribing one's correct language, and the insistence that there are no individuals but just groups both were there in 1977, that is, this year 40 years ago. Also both were based on the totalitarianism that is quite evident in most groups and in most groupthinking.


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