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Nederlog

May 11, 2018

Crisis: Scahill, Nader on War, Haspel & McGovern, The Coming War, On Net Neutrality


Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 11, 2018
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, May 11, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from May 11, 2018
1. Jeremy Scahill: Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA
2. The U.S. Is Being Sleepwalked Into War With Iran
3. Haspel Says CIA Won’t Torture Again as Ray McGovern is Dragged Out
     of Hearing

4. The Coming War Against Iran
5. 'This Is the Moment to Fight': FCC Announces Net Neutrality Will
     Officially Die on June 11
The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Jeremy Scahill: Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA

This article is by Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, President Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, announced she would not restart the CIA’s interrogation program. But she repeatedly refused to call the CIA’s post-9/11 treatment of prisoners “torture,” and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral. Haspel’s comments came in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, as she made her case to become the first woman to head the agency. Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. At least two Republican senators have come out against her—Rand Paul and John McCain, who said her “role in overseeing the use of torture is disturbing & her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” But Haspel may still be confirmed with the help of Democratic lawmakers. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has already announced he will back Haspel. We speak with Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept and host of the weekly podcast “Intercepted.”
Yes indeed. And here is more:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Capitol Hill, President Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, announced she would not restart the CIA’s interrogation program. But she repeatedly refused to call the CIA’s post-9/11 treatment of prisoners torture, and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral.

Haspel’s comments came in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee as she made her case to become the first woman to head the agency. Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site.

Again quite so. And incidentally, I think Gina Haspels was mostly lying, among other things because torture is internationally forbidden; because she did not say what she considers wrong with ¨the CIA´s interrogation program¨; because she denies that waterboarding is torture (which it was from the 17th Century onwards, at least in Holland); and because she ¨declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral¨ (?!?!).

Here is Jeremy Schahill:

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, first of all, I think that if we look at the fact that we’re 17 years removed from 9/11, and we look at how this country has not come to terms with all of the acts of torture, kidnapping, extrajudicial killing, that was done with the veneer of legalism, put over it by very creative, albeit creative in a sort of evil way, lawyers in the Bush administration, what has resulted in not holding those torturers accountable is that one of them is now ascending to the highest post in the CIA.

Yes indeed. Here is more by Scahill:

So, the fact that—this hearing was a farce, where, unfortunately, some of the Democrats and all of the Republicans engaged in a collective endorsement of what is, in my view, quite clearly, a CIA propaganda operation. It’s a coup of sorts to have someone like Gina Haspel, who has been involved with destroying evidence, torture, kidnapping, and refuses—refuses—to denounce any of it. I mean, it’s incredible that 17 years after 9/11 and—and, I’m sorry, Obama plays a huge role in how this happened. The moment Obama said, “We need to look forward, not backward,” was the moment that Gina Haspel was able to become a viable candidate for CIA.

Precisely. There is a lot more in this article, which is strongly recommended. Also, I think Kiriakou is right: ¨The USA¨ is being manipulated into a war with Iran, after the war with Iraq, and is being manipulated by very similar lies as was the case in 2001 and 2002 (etc.) See item 4 below.


2. The U.S. Is Being Sleepwalked Into War With Iran

This article is by Ralph Nader on Truthdig and originally on Nader.org. It starts as follows:

Editor’s Note: The following article was first published on May 3 and is being printed now in light of the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal. 

In mid-May, super-war hawks Donald J. Trump (worried about the Mueller investigation), John Bolton, Trump’s new unconfirmed national security advisor, and new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are likely to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord. This would open the way for Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Congressional allies to push for armed conflict with Iran.

Yes indeed. Here is more:

The U.S. has Iran militarily surrounded on its eastern, western, and southern borders.  Israel has working spies in Iran, creating secret sabotage and mayhem.  Israel, which has illegally bombed civil war-wracked Syria (no threat to Israel) dozens of times, has recently hit locations known to have Iranian advisors to Bashar Assad, Syria’s ruler, while fighting ISIS, along with U.S. forces there.  Iranians have been killed in these raids.

So who is the aggressor here?  Unlike Israel’s many invasions and military incursions, Iran, a poor country, has not invaded any country for over 250 years. Iraq’s dictator invaded Iran in 1980, with U.S. backing, costing Iran an estimated 500,000 lives.

Well... I agree that the USA is an aggressor against Iran, as is Israel quite probably, but I should add that I also do not have much sympathy for Iran. Then again, I agree with Nader and others it should be left in peace by the USA, while I also think that the present USA seems to be doing similar things to Iran as it was doing to Iraq briefly before invading it.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

For decades, Israeli leaders and emissaries have come to the U.S. for congressional speeches, for interviews on the Sunday network talk shows and in the print media. Questions about Israel’s nuclear bombs have not been juxtaposed with Israel’s desire for the U.S. to overthrow the Iranian regime or bomb Iranian installations. Trump’s war hawk in the White House, John Bolton, wants to go further. In the past, Bolton has urged Israel to militarily annex the Palestinian West Bank, presumably as a twofer.

Will enough American people, including knowledgeable retired national security and military officials, stand up to stop this slide toward another conflagration that will likely produce blowback in the U.S.?

Yes indeed. Then again, I should add about the last question that my own expectation is war, not because of Iranian policies, but because of American policies. And this is a recommended article.

3. Haspel Says CIA Won’t Torture Again as Ray McGovern is Dragged Out of Hearing

This article is by Joe Lauria on Consortiumnews. This is from near its beginning:
[Haspel] personally supervised a black site in Thailand where terrorism suspects were waterboarded. It remains unclear whether she had a direct role in the torture. The CIA said she arrived at the black site after the waterboarding of senior al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah had taken place. Some CIA officials disputed that to The New York Times. The newspaper also reported last year that Haspel ran the CIA Thai prison in 2002 when another suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was waterboarded. 

Even if she did not have a direct hand in overseeing the torture, she certainly acquiesced to it. And if that were not bad enough, Haspel urged the destruction of 92 videotaped CIA “enhanced interrogations,” conducted at the prison in Thailand, eliminating evidence in a clear-cut obstruction of justice to cover-up her own possible crimes.
Yes indeed. Here is more:
Haspel testified that the U.S. has a new legal framework that governs detentions and interrogations forbidding what she refused to call torture. But the U.S. already had a law on the books against it when the Senate ratified the international Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on October 21, 1994. Every time the U.S. “tortured some folks” after that, as Barack Obama put, it broke U.S. law.

In speaking about it in a folksy way, Obama was minimizing the enormity of the crime and justifying his decision to not prosecute any American who may have taken part in it. That includes Haspel. So instead of facing the law she’s facing a career promotion to one of the most powerful positions in the United States, if not the world.
Again I quite agree. Then there is this about Ray McGovern:
Ray McGovern, a CIA veteran of 27 years and frequent contributor to Consortium News, stood up in the hearing room and began asking his own questions. Capitol police were immediately ordered by the chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), to physically remove McGovern from the room. As he continued turning towards the committee to shout his questions, four officers hauled him out.
Quite so, and there is considerably more about McGovern in the article. And here is more about Frank Church:
In 1975, Sen. Frank Church (D-ID) conducted hearings that revealed a raft of criminality committed by the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over a period of thirty years from the end of the Second World War. It has been more than 40 years since that Senate investigation. After the release of the CIA Torture Report by the Senate in 2014 and the revelations about the NSA by Edward Snowden, a new Church Committee-style expansive probe into the intelligence agencies is long overdue.
Yes, quite so. I have written quite a few times about Church before. Today I quote (again)
Church´s words from August 17, 1975:

In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. These messages are between ships at sea, they could be between units, military units in the field. We have a very extensive capability of intercepting messages wherever they may be in the airwaves. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything—telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.

If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.

Now why is this investigation important? I'll tell you why: because I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.
That is 43 years ago, but it seems to me that Frank Church was quite right, except that he did not foresee the internet, that enables that everyone who is on it will have no real privacy whatsoever, simply because all the world´s secret services and all the world´s rich have the ability and the money to see everything one does with a computer (connected to the internet):

One´s mails, one´s opinions, one´s face, one´s income, one´s values, one´s photographs, one´s videos are are now all fully known (in secret) by many of the secret services, and also by Google, by Amazon, by Facebook, by Microsoft, by Apple etc.

And these facts seem to be true of absolutely everyone with a computer or a cellphone connected to the internet. (Note please that it is not only the government´s secret service that know - and download - everything by anyone, but also the very rich who control Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.)

I think Church was quite right, except that it is far worse than he ever expected.

Back to the article, which ends as follows:

While the Republican-controlled intelligence committee may have partisan motives to launch such a new Church-like commission to look into the agencies’ shenanigans in the Russia-gate fiasco, the majority of Republicans are hawks on intelligence matters and many support torture and want Haspel to be the next CIA director. For instance, Burr told Haspel: “You are without a doubt the most qualified person the president could choose to lead the CIA and the most prepared nominee in the 70-year history of the agency. You have acted morally, ethically and legally over a distinguished 30-year career.”

None of this bodes well for the nation.
I am sorry, but I think (as a psychologist) that Richard Burr - given his just quoted words - is a sadist who loves sadists. And I completely agree with Lauria: The USA is very rapidly growing worse and worse and worse. Here is more on that, albeit from another angle:

4. The Coming War Against Iran

This article is by John Kiriakou on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
I spent nearly 15 years in the CIA. I like to think that I learned something there. I learned how the federal bureaucracy works. I learned that cowboys in government – in the CIA and elsewhere around government – can have incredible power over the creation of policy. I learned that the CIA will push the envelope of legality until somebody in a position of authority pushes back. I learned that the CIA can wage war without any thought whatsoever as to how things will work out in the end. There’s never an exit strategy.

I learned all of that firsthand in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
I take it all of this is true, although I fail to understand why someone (who is intelligent and honest, as I take Kiriakou is) would want to become a member of the CIA. (Then again, my own background is probably very different from his.)

Here is more by Kiriakou:
Trump has kept up his anti-Iran rhetoric since becoming president. More importantly, he has appointed Iran hawks to the two most important positions in foreign policy: former CIA Director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton as national security advisor. The two have made clear that their preferred policy toward Iran is “regime change,” a policy that is actually prohibited by international law.

Perhaps the most troubling development, however, is the apparent de facto alliance against Iran by Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent “presentation” on what he called a clandestine Iranian nuclear weapons program was embarrassingly similar to Powell’s heavily scripted speech before the UN Security Council 15 years earlier telling the world that Iraq had a program. That, too, was a lie.
Yes indeed: Precisely so. And here is Kiriakou´s inference:
I can tell you from firsthand experience, that I’ve seen this before. Our government is laying the groundwork for yet another war. Be on the lookout for several things. First, Trump is going to begin shouting about the “threat” from Iran. It will become a daily mantra. He’ll argue that Iran is actively hostile and poses an immediate danger to the United States. Next Pompeo will head back to the Middle East and Europe to garner support for military action. Then US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will scream in front of the UN Security Council that the US has no choice but to protect itself and its allies from Iran.
I completely agree with Kiriakou: The U.S. ¨government is laying the groundwork for yet another war¨. And this is a strongly recommended article.

5. 'This Is the Moment to Fight': FCC Announces Net Neutrality Will Officially Die on June 11

This article is by Jake Johnson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Open internet advocates urged Americans to "ramp up" pressure on their senators on Thursday after FCC chair Ajit Pai announced in a press release that the widely popular net neutrality rules his agency voted to repeal last December will officially die on June 11.
Yes indeed. Here is more:

The FCC's announcement comes just a day after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and 32 other Senate Democrats officially filed a petition to restore net neutrality protections using the Congressional Review Act (CRA).

A vote on the petition—which has the support of every member of the Senate Democratic caucus and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), but still requires one more vote to pass—could come as early as next Wednesday.

I think - but am not quite sure - this is on Wednesday May 16, next. And here is some more (and ¨FFTF¨ = ¨Fight for the Future¨):

While net neutrality rules will formally be wiped off the books on June 11, FFTF offered the important reminder that "'the internet as we know it' will not suddenly die."

"Nothing will happen right away. ISP shills will immediately start saying, 'See? The sky didn't fall, guess we never needed net neutrality in the first place," FFTF explained. "The big ISPs aren't going to immediately start blocking websites or rolling out harmful paid prioritization scams. Not while Congress and the courts are still deliberating. The internet's death will be slow."

Yes, I think FFTF is correct about that. Then again, my own guess is that the internet is ¨dead¨ - or, to put it in other words: the few rich have won, and will adapt the internet to their businesses - although this may need some more time.

And to extend my remarks some:

Of course, ¨the internet¨ will continue to exist, but it soon will become more commercial. In fact, that is precisely the problem. I did articulate around 2007, in Dutch, an idea for another internet, and Tim Berners-Lee recently had similar ideas - see:
Internet Pioneer Tim Berners-Lee Calls for 'New Web' That Reclaims Original Democratic Principles, which I read and reviewed om May 4, 2010.

I think that is the way forward, but it will be difficult to keep commercial sites away from such a new internet.

Note

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.


They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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