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Nederlog

Thursday, Apr 6, 2017

Crisis: On DARPA and computers, On Bannon, On Trump


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. From the People Who Gave Us the Internet, the Amazing and
     Appalling Story of DARPA

2.
A Big Blow to Bannon
3. No One to Blame But Trump
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Thursday
, April 6, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary
crisis log with three items and three links: Item 1 is about DARPA, which is in fact a part of American military intelligence, that produced
many technological innovations, including personal computers and the internet; item 2 is about the fact that Bannon was removed as a member from the National Security Council; and item 3 is about an article about Trump that is more opinion than fact.
April 6: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site again failed to upload and now got stuck on Tuesday, April 4. These horrors happen now for the 16th month in
succession
.

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. From the People Who Gave Us the Internet, the Amazing and Appalling Story of DARPA

The first article today is
by Jefferson Morley on AlterNet:

This starts as follows (and is in fact the review of the book that is mentioned):

Imagineers of War is a history of the Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency, or DARPA, the obscure government enterprise that (to oversimplify only slightly) gave us the internet, Agent Orange, driverless cars, armed drones, and a host of lesser accomplishments ranging from the sublime to the sinister to the absurd.

Founded in 1958, DARPA has funded scientific research and development in support of the U.S. national security mission for 60 years.
Indeed. To start with, here is some background: DARPA (<-Wikipedia).

What I am interested in is especially the arisal of the internet and the personal computer from DARPA-projects, and the connection between national security and
the internet and the personal computer, but unfortunately there is not much in the present article that sheds light on these questions.

Here is some more on DARPA and also on ARPA (which is an alternative name for it):
DARPA was born in the wake of the Soviet Union’s successful launch of the Sputnik satellite in October 1957. With a little encouragement from elected officials, Americans grew fearful and then hysterical that the world’s first global orbiting vehicle was built by communist scientists.
(..)
The Advanced Research and Projects Agency (ARPA), established in February 1958, was the answer: a government agency that would empower scientists to dream up new ways to defend the country and its allies from a rival superpower. (“Defense” was added to the name in 1972, supposedly to protect it from congressional budget-cutters.)
Unfortunately, the Wikipedia lemma for DARPA does not contain the word "secret", although I suppose it is mostly secret. And this is from the beginning of Wikipedia's DARPA lemma:
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.
(..)
DARPA is independent from other military research and development and reports directly to senior Department of Defense management. DARPA has about 240 employees, of whom 13 are in management, and close to 140 are technical staff.
Here I note that all this research that DARPA organizes is "for use by the military". I will return to this below.

This is from the article and describes a few of the things DARPA did fund:

To improve command and control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the 1960s, DARPA funded research into interactive computing. The result was ARPANet, the first network of linked computers. In October 1969, the system crashed midway through the world’s first email message. But ARPANet, nurtured by government funding, evolved into the internet of the early 1990s, which transformed the world.
But this also does not say much. In fact, what I am looking for is an explanation for two rather odd facts.

The first fact is as follows, and is based on a text that was published in May of 1969 ("The Year of The Young Rebels" by Stephen Spender) that reported the following from 1968 or 1967 (and for more see this Nederlog from 2012):
The idea of the technotronic society seems to be under the
auspices of Zbigniev Brezezinski, until recently a member of
the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, and now
Director of the Research Institute of Communist Affairs at
Columbia University.
(...)
For one thing, 'it will soon be possible to assert almost
continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to-
date, complete files, containing even personal information
about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in
addition to the more customary data.' Moreover it will be
possible to anticipate and plan to meet any uprisings in the
future. The police will even be able to forecast crises before the
rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them.
The rather amazing fact here is that the second paragraph, written in 1967 or 1968, quite correctly predicted what personal computers would do, but some 25 or 30 years (or more) in the future. And this is quite amazing because no one seems to be capable of accurately predicting what will be the case 25 years into the future, at least not in any specific detail and without having specific - technological - fore- knowledge.

Put otherwise, this suggests that Brzezinski (the spelling of his name meanwhile changed) did have - around 1968! - specific foreknowledge of what would be possible with computers, and indeed of what was being planned that computers should do - although what Brzezinski described in 1968 was quite totalitarian: "
continuous surveillance over every citizen", "personal information about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen", with the police being capable (in the future of 1968) "to forecast crises before the rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them".

That is precisely what the NSA started to deliver from 2000 onwards, and one wonders how Brzezinksi could foresee that in 1968.

The second somewhat amazing fact may be introduced by the following enthusiastic summary from Wikipedia's History of the internet (minus a note number):

In the 1980s, research at CERN in Switzerland by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee resulted in the World Wide Web, linking hypertext documents into an information system, accessible from any node on the network. Since the mid-1990s, the Internet has had a revolutionary impact on culture, commerce, and technology, including the rise of near-instant communication by electronic mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone calls, two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, blogs, social networking, and online shopping sites.
This completely fails to mention the fact that everyone who uses a computer or a cellphone to transmit any private information can be virtually certain that this private information will be copied in secret and added to an also secret database that
is maintained by the NSA (and the GCHQ and so on for very many secret services), precisely because all this private information is send around in an unencrypted form (on cables that can be easily tapped in principle).

And what amazes me is especially the fact that Tim Berners-Lee should have recognized that sending private information in an unencrypted form was equivalent to inviting extremely widespread abuse - as did happen, indeed on an enormous scale, and especially since 9/11 supplied motivations to try to find out - as was written in 1968 - about "
crises before the rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them".

But I admit that the present article didn't deliver much information about DARPA and therefore I will give my explanation for these two rather amazing facts hypothetically:

It seems as if the most probable explanation for Brzezinski's amazing  foreknowledge (extending some 30 years into the future) and for Berners-Lee forgetting encryption is that it was all planned:

The freedom promised by personal computers and by the internet was a bait to trap billions of persons into the files of the secret services, that from then on have the possibility to check and control everything any formerly private individual does, wants and thinks: everything is known to the secret services.

2. A Big Blow to Bannon


The second article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
In a shakeup by President Trump, top White House political strategist Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council’s principals committee, which is comprised of top military service chiefs and intelligence agency heads. Bannon, who never should have been on the committee in the first place, was removed via an executive order that restored the traditional White House balance of keeping political appointees out of the military and intelligence chain of command.

The decision suggests that Bannon’s still-substantial power in the White House is being restrained and limited—though public statements by Bannon and the White House are offering other excuses.
I say, for this is quite unexpected, at least for me. We'll get an explanation by Rosenfeld, but first here is Bannon's position (or so it seems) on his removal:
In a statement reported by the Journal, Bannon reverted to his Breitbart conspiracy theory mode, predictably blaming not only the Obama administration for his ouster, but pointing fingers at Susan Rice, the latest Obama administration figure the far-right is seeking to ensnare in its change-the-topic defense of Trump’s campaign contacts with Russia.
I checked out Susan Rice (<- Wikipedia) but only found she arose in the Clinton administration.

This is more interesting, and gives Rosenfeld's explanation for Bannon's removal:

What this means is that the so-called deep state, or Washington institutions that endure throughout changes of administrations, like the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, are reasserting their power by pushing political operatives like Bannon back into a more limited sphere of influence. It means he will not have equal say in military and intelligence agency analysis and decision-making.
Quite possibly so, although I am not happy with the equation of the deep state and "Washington institutions that endure throughout changes of administrations": That seems a rather peculiar euphemism for what Wikipedia describes as:
State within a state is a political situation in a country when an internal organ ("deep state"), such as the armed forces and civilian authorities (intelligence agencies, police, administrative agencies and branches of governmental bureaucracy), does not respond to the civilian political leadership.
Then again, Rosenfeld may well be correct in saying that Bannon's removal is the outcome of the deep state's "reasserting their power".

3. No One to Blame But Trump

The third article is by Elizabeth Drew on The New York Review of Books:

This starts as follows:
Donald Trump’s substance-free approach to governing may be comfortable for him but it’s caused his presidency big problems.
I think that both the title and the beginning indicate that this is more opinion than fact based, but as long as that is clear there is nothing wrong with it.

This is about Trump's beginnings as president:
Trump’s first great legislative defeat threatens to define his presidency. He came across as blundering and incompetent. He is the first modern president to lose his first major piece of legislation. This came on top of other unfortunate firsts: Trump is the first president whose approval ratings began to go down after he won the election and then after the inauguration, and that have kept doing so since. Recent polls show his approval ratings to be from 35 percent to 42 percent, not enough to form a governing majority.
I think it is too early to say much about Trump's presidency, but I agree that his beginnings were far from triumphant. Then again, I don't think Trump's (im)popularity with voters will play a big role, unless Trump gets impeached.

Then there is this:
Trump apparently didn’t grasp that in political negotiations, unless one is very skilled, the more you give away the more insatiable the forces you give away to become. It’s not like business trading, where both sides have an incentive to reach a deal. Since conservative Republicans hadn’t ever wanted the government to get in the business of providing health care, they had nothing to lose from continuing to extract more and more from the president and still voting against the bill. Trump didn’t understand this.
I think this is speculation. I have no idea whether this is correct. But the following is presented as fact, and seems interesting:
There’s been a great deal of speculation about shifting alliances among Trump’s White House staff—it’s virtually a daily exercise—but in the end Donald Trump defines his administration. Trump has a mediocre staff, whom he doesn’t treat well. They’re hesitant to give him news he won’t like for fear of being screamed at, a frequent event. Experienced potential aides haven’t been keen to work in a Trump White House and though it’s not widely known by the outside world many of those who are there are unhappy. As one close observer put it to me, “They came to work for the president but found themselves working for Donald Trump.”
This is interesting, especially about Trump's temperament [1].

Here is the last opinion I will quote from this article:
The discontent with Donald Trump on Capitol Hill runs very deep and also very wide. I’ve been told that upwards of two-thirds of the Senate Republicans, in particular, discuss—in the gym and in clusters on the Senate floor—their desire to see him gone. These senators talk rather openly—even with their Democratic colleagues—about their fear of Trump’s recklessly getting the country into serious danger, about the embarrassment he causes it in the world (his petulantly refusing to shake hands with Angela Merkel was just one example of his mishandling of foreign leaders), about his overall incompetence.
I say! Again this is opinion, but I suppose Drew is correct in reporting that she has been "told that upwards of two-thirds of the Senate Republicans, in particular, discuss (..) their desire to see him gone", and that points to a lot of Republican unhappiness - which is quite justified in view of Trump's temperament [1] and his tweets.

And even while this is opinion, it is somewhat heartening to me to read that Senate Republicans desire to see Trump gone, among other things because they are afraid that
Trump will get the USA "
into serious danger".

I think they are right in that, but as I said the present article is more opinion than fact, although I am willing to suppose that the supposed facts in the presented opinions ("I've been told that" etc.) are indeed as supposed. (But this also shows that opinions are considerably less secure than - purported - facts.)

---------------
Note

[1] In fact - as is supported by many psychiatrists and psychologists - I think that Trump is not sane (<- letter to Obama by three professors of psychiatry or psychology from November 2016), but I choose to formulate this as "a problem with his temperament" here to avoid problems: He certainly has problems with his temperament.

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