David Anderson takes a Step In the Right Direction

With David Anderson’s report, we finally look like we may be moving in the right direction.

However, his solution to over-reach is aiming at the wrong target. Prior authorisation by his proposed new judicial body is really no more than a band-aid on the amputated limb.

The 2800 authorisations issued last year are enough to illustrate the limitation of “control by authorisation”

There is no way that serious consideration of the facts and arguments underpinning any relevant surveillance request can possibly be conducted, at that rate, by the small organisation implied by a Judicial Commission. In fact, as David Davies argued on Radio 4, it’s not credible that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, even with the resources of the Home Office, can give genuinely appropriate levels of attention to such requests at the rate of 7 a day. Especially on top of her day job.

Frankly, however, we shouldn’t really care who signs off the authorisation for any given task. All they need to authorise is that the new rules I’m about to propose are being followed to the letter. That, in short means that a new digital case file has been opened and that everything related to the case will be stored in that file and made available, on demand to the independent oversight body and/or political authorities.

What matters far more – and is absolutely vital to ensuring true democratic control of the State’s surveillance apparatus – is the complete and routine data-capture (to an immutable audit trail) of the entire surveillance decision-making process and subsequent implementation of those decisions. In other words, nobody should be watched more closely and comprehensively than the watchers themselves. Think helmet cams, body cams, discreet microphones, Smartphone and GPS location tracking, Google glass and a host of similar technologies. Think ubiquitous CCTV and Webcam coverage in all secure areas and offices.

These are the experts in surveillance. They know exactly how to ensure that everything they say and do, in the line of duty, is captured to that immutable audit trail. They know how to keep their own data safe and secure and available only to those who have legal authority to access it. (If they don’t, they have no business keeping ours) It would probably be cost neutral or slightly beneficial.

Most importantly it will facilitate precisely the democratic oversight which is needed to ensure that everything the authorities do is on the record (or is automatically a criminal offence) and available for review by whatever oversight body we determine is necessary to earn the Trust of the British People.

That body must have untrammelled authority to inspect ANY relevant data at ANY time from the moment of authorisation forward. Indeed, it must even have authority to conduct spot inspections of anything relevant to their oversight with the sole and reasonable limitation that they can watch but not impede an ongoing operation. They must also be allocated resources which permit independent and trusted expert evaluation of what they find.

The technology will allow them to rewind any operation and see for themselves what evidence justified the operation and whether the implementation of the operation was entirely necessary and proportionate. Note, I don’t even insist that it was “legal”.

What matters is that We The People would agree that it was justified. Not that a “here today gone tomorrow” politician – with a potentially hidden agenda – asserts that it was justified and demands that we trust them.

The oversight body would be empowered to disclose whatever they thought necessary to the British Public. We need to be completely confident that if they say the operation was clean and justified, but that the details need to remain secret, we would probably have agreed with them if we were in possession of all the facts.

By the same token, where they clearly uncover illicit behaviour, we must be equally confident that they are able to disclose everything we ought to know, however embarrassing for the State, that disclosure may be.

Personally I don’t trust unelected Authoritarians, even relatively tame ones like most Judges, to wield that disclosure against the elected Authoritarians and I would much prefer that Oversight body to take the form of a Standing Jury with a few dozen members selected randomly from a national pool of civic-minded volunteers.

I don’t think we should object if the Security services wanted to Vet those volunteers and weed out any that might be a threat to the necessary discipline and security that such a Jury would have to work under. But the Jury itself would be the final arbiter on any such exclusions from Jury Service.

Such an arrangement would render the process truly democratic.

We should, perhaps, have no objection to a tribunal of experienced judges being available to advise and guide the Jury on all points of law and precedent, but the Jury itself should be sovereign and make the final judgements.

With all that in place, you can perhaps see why we needn’t care so much about who authorises the actual operations.

Provided we can see, after the event, who was asked, why they were asked, why they agreed, what the consequences were and how it was handled, frankly I don’t give a give a damn what it is they actually authorise – up to and including the assassination of a fellow citizen – or even an attack on a wedding party in Pakistan. There are potential legitimate reasons for any of these activities.

But where the consequences are that extreme, nothing less than a Jury of our peers, taking an entirely uninhibited look, on our behalf, at what went on and why, will satisfy any rationally sceptical citizen that the decisions were reasonable and rationally based on reviewable evidence; or that the implementation of those decisions was carried out in the least destructive and damaging way possible in the circumstances.

To be blunt; how many of the USA Police brutality incidents we have been bombarded with for the past few decades would have survived that level of scrutiny? Or, to put it another way, how much of that brutality would we have eliminated, how many lives would we have saved, had they been under that level of scrutiny?

Yes, the American Police are a far easier target for our opprobrium than the British Security Services.
We’d rather like to keep it that way!

Heather Brooke’s Successful battle to expose political corruption

I concur…

Heather Brooke’s Homepage

Why We Fight (Eugene Jarecki)

depressing to find that this has just 5 “likes” on Stumbleupon and has only been viewed 80,125 times on youtube despite having been available, free, for over a year. This degree of apathy explains how they continue to get away with it. They are immune because “We The People” are indifferent. Sad, sad, sad…

The first major breach in the Police State?

The American Judicial System might be about to demonstrate that it isn’t completely broken. A Federal Judge has just had the balls to speak Truth to Power. A major plank of the USA PATRIOT Act has just been struck down and ruled unconstitutional. Which bit? The totalitarian rule they made to protect themselves from public scrutiny; the bit which gives the FBI and other security related organs of the State, the right to issue “National Security Letters” (NSLs). Yeah, that bit.

(In passing, why did I spot this first on The Register? This is historic news the mainstream media should be bleating from the rooftops. Just did a google for [“national security letters” unconstitutional] and the only “mainstream” entity on the first result page was this Fox News coverage! Who said the Americans don’t do irony?)

You tend to get one or more of these letters if you run any decent sized organisation in the United States. They are unethical, illicit and intrusive demands for information about a citizen; ostensibly on the grounds that there is good reason to believe that the citizen may be pursuing some kind of activity of which We disapprove. Oh, and if you ever get one of these letters, you’re not allowed to tell the “target” citizen, or anyone else, ever.

“We”, they would like us to believe, being “We The People”.

And if the relevant activities being enquired about were exclusively those which aided or abetted military attacks (from any source) on civilians (in any location) there is no doubt that We The People would approve of such well targeted surveillance and would expect to see evidence for this focussed diligence on our behalf in the form of steadily diminishing military attack on civilians. At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, we do not see any such evidence.

What we see are increasingly widespread brutal paranoia among governments. You can create your own league table but China and the USA are both Premier League teams, converging on the same level of pseudo-liberty. We are all gradually being pulled back towards Roman Law.

Wot that?

Roman Law is the historical precedent and basis of so-called “Civil Law” under which it is held that Laws don’t exist unless explicitly created by the Civil Authority. In contrast, UKUSA law is based on the “Common Law” tradition where we make it up as we go along. Neither is perfect, obviously. But the notion that Law doesn’t exist until a properly constituted authority creates it might look eminently sensible. But its real meaning, or at least interpretation by the relevant Civil Authorities, has always been sinisterly nuanced.

Rule One was that, as a citizen, you are obliged to act, at all times, within the law. The absence of a law did not, as you might naively expect, confer liberty. By definition, if you were acting in some way not already described by the law, you could not possibly be acting within it and were, therefore, in breach of Rule One.

This elegant totalitarian concept – that ALL action is forbidden unless I Caesar permit it – is beautifully efficient as a control mechanism. It means you can arrest and prosecute citizens on a whim. Virtually every second of the day you are bound to be doing something I Caesar have not explicitly permitted. For example, I didn’t give you permission to think what you just thought.

Roman Law hasn’t died out. It’s been kind of absorbed and blended with the less authoritarian, but often equally arbitrary, Common Law tradition that we “enjoy” in UKUSA. That’s supposed to mean that unless behaviour is explicitly forbidden by the Civil Authority, then it’s permitted.

Problem with that – if you’re a Civil Authoritarian with Totalitarian tendencies – is that too many damn citizens want to do too many things that I Caesar (elect) disapprove. They want to enjoy themselves, for example, in all sorts of ways that we can’t possibly permit. Buggers want sex all the time. Not to mention Drugs and Rock And Roll. Some of them even want to undermine our right to rule! Which is why we’ve been obliged to create this massive list of prohibited behaviours.

How they get away with it is the interesting bit. Chances are you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t already familiar with much of the explanation for that so I’m not going to teach you to suck eggs. But on the off-chance that these thoughts are new to you, you could do worse that starting with the Manufacturing of Consent.
No, I’m afraid it’s not an exciting video, just informative.

We The People will, of course, endorse a certain number of Prohibitions. Who doesn’t agree with the prohibition of Murder? Rape? Violence against the Person? Theft? Fraud? and a few other obviously antisocial activities we all wish to abolish. Deliberate or negligent harm to a third-party, without their informed and freely given consent, is universally recognised as criminal.

All other prohibitions are steps towards Roman Law. The more they can get away with forbidding, the greater their chances of arresting you on a whim. The greater the chance that you will have been doing something explicitly illegal sometime in the immediate past or present.

This will become especially relevant when they start including Thought Crime – which they are increasingly nudging towards both here in the UK and, of course, over there in the USA. It is, of course, long-established tradition in China and a few other places.

After all, what human has never contemplated an illegal act? Most admit to having at least wanted to murder at least one other person at least once in their lives. Reckon I’m up to a couple of hundred myself. Including a large number of senior American and one or two senior British Politicians.

I guarantee there are people employed to look out for sentences like the two previous; and to make some kind of judgement as to whether such sentiments constitute a “Terrorist Threat”. And I guarantee some of them will conclude that it does. They’re the sort of people who send out NSL letters. (or spend four weeks looking for the author of a Facebook quip about wanting to “Egg Cameron” [added 25/3/2013])

They, at least, will see this legal judgement as marking a very sad day for their cause.

For the rest of us, it’s high fives all round…

One Law For The Rich


The sheer brazen effrontery of this corruption is breathtaking. Not just the banks’ corruption (15 years – in the case of HSBC – of criminal money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist groups) but the State corruption in the form of the decision that banks like HSBC are “too big to prosecute”. Oh, and don’t forget to ask yourself the routine question: why are you having to watch this on The Real News rather than mainstream media?

Few, if any, events in recorded history have so clearly illustrated not just the gap between the elite rich and the rest of us, but even the illegitimate means by which they are permitted and even helped to maintain their illicit advantages over civil society.

ANY criminal prosecuted, from now on, in any country where trial by jury is the norm, should now argue – direct to the jury – that whatever crime they are accused of cannot possibly be as serious as what the banks have been allowed to get away with for decades and that, if the banks can be let off with a token fine (less than a day’s profit), there can be no ethical case for any lesser prosecutions. Judges and prosecutors will, of course, try to resist that argument, but let’s see what the Juries decide…

Israel Lobbyist in US: We Need a False Flag to Start War with Iran (youtube)

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We’ve seen extraditions to the US for less than this. So how is this legal? Thanks to ScrabbleEddie for sending me to this blogger who provides a bit of background…

Hillsborough: Why Conspiracy Theories Thrive

So now we KNOW the truth. Up until today, it was just another conspiracy theory. Think about that…
And then address the question of how we might determine which of the other million or so conspiracy theories floating around the web are also entirely (or at least mostly) true.

I’ll expand on this later. (he threatened…)

Social Psychosis

Did I miss something? The headline “Why people believe undocumented immigrants cause more crime” suggests the author has found an answer to the question: “why DO people believe (etc)” but according to this Physorg summary, all it seems she’s doing is pointing out the evidence which challenges the belief; then reiterating the question “why the belief?”… Odd.

At the very least I’d have expected to see some mention of the most likely source of such ill-informed belief: viz the disinformation provided, constantly and at high volume, by the tabloid “journalists” in print, visual and digital media.

In any case, the more interesting question, given that the culprits have access to the same evidence, is why, nevertheless, they choose to promote the disinfo, even though they can see their lies being dissected and revealed in public as easily as this story illustrates.

This behaviour is not, of course, limited to their treatment of the facts regarding levels of American crime committed by illegal aliens. They’re pretty similar with regard to their treatment of Climate Change, the War on Drugs, the causes of the Financial Meltdown in 2008, the prospects for the Global Economy and many, if not most, crucially important areas of human discourse.

A clue to their motivation comes in this paper, pithily entitled:A culture of mania: a psychoanalytic
view of the incubation of the 2008 credit crisis
(pdf) in which the author “suggest(s) that a manic culture is one typified by denial, omnipotence, triumphalism and over-activity”; exactly what we see from the Authoritarians the world over in relation to those key issues. Their inflated conviction regarding their own infallibility is one of the most dangerous features of the modern world.

I’m also inclined to welcome this as reasonable academic support for my own amateur efforts to define “Social Psychosis” which I first did back in 2005 in my attempt answer the question as to whether, when Authoritarians lie about the evidence for WMD, or War Crimes or Evolution or whatever, they are Lying, Stupid or Blind.

I made the point that:

Psychologically, people who form firm beliefs – in the absence of the validated evidence we’ve discussed – are, essentially both irrational and gullible… If they continue to hold such beliefs when the relevant hypotheses have been falsified, then, I would argue, they are showing the early signs of psychosis. When groups of like-minded people share the challenged beliefs, it becomes a social psychosis in which members turn to each other for mutual validation of their shared and increasingly distorted world view.

What Mark Stein is helpfully doing is putting some serious meat on the bones of that conjecture.

Iran to crack down on web censor-beating software

This is the front line in the battle between We The People and the Authoritarians. Don’t make the mistake of smirking that you’re not involved. The Iranian authoritarians are merely trying out the techniques which will be used increasingly against those of us to like to think we live in more “liberal” countries.

Check back in ten years time, after it’s clear whether they’ve succeeded or not. See how this comment reads then. If they did succeed, I suspect your first problem will be finding this comment or others like it.

The American Authoritarians are the key. If they decide to go down this road, we’re about to enter the new “dark age”. If they resist, we’ll still have the rest of the World to deal with but at least we’ll have a firm homebase to start from.

The signs are not good. The sheer extent of their illicit untrusted surveillance on their own citizens (not to mention those of us who aren’t) makes the Stasi look both primitive and restrained. With a budget in excess of most National Budgets, the American panopticon is well beyond the control of the politicians and has essentially become a law unto itself.

This is about as dangerous as the State can ever get. We are now at the mercy of the motivation of the current generation of spooks. If they’re the “good guys” they no doubt consider themselves to be, then we might be relatively lightly controlled. But I guarantee the Stasi thought of themselves as being the good guys too…

Right Wing Mouthpiece For Authoritarianism Notices The Class War Hasn’t Stopped Yet

This is one of those “Dog stands/walks on hind legs” stories. Not done very well but, given the source (Daily Mail), you’re astonished to see it done at all!

It is such a vitriolic attack on the privilege which accompanies money and class that it almost challenges the “Manufacturing Consent” paradigm. It’s as bizarre as Fox News doing a serious piece about media manipulation and cherry picking. So what is Dominic Sandbrook up to? And what are the Mail’s motives in permitting such a provocative piece to be published in their name?

Well it supports claims that they support a wide range of opinions, freedom of speech and that kind of thing, but it isn’t any kind of support for real democratic revolution. I say this despite their support for Tony Benn’s plea that we open up politics to wider participation. Indeed, his plea is the key. He was much more egalitarian but no more democratic than the Daily Mail. A fervent supporter of “Parliamentary Democracy” he always argued for the supremacy of Parliament – the Elected Dictatorship.

The Mail are also quite happy with that arrangement. What both the Mail and Benn are after is reversing the direction of influence. Rather than the system we’ve endured for a couple of thousand years where all Decisions and Edicts fall on us from on high, Benn and Mail want the elected Dictators to “Listen To The People”. And both Benn and the Mail favour such a change because they both believe that they can influence The People more easily than the real Decision Makers.

So, in the end, it really still is all about Manufacturing Consent…

Collusion

if you haven’t already, download and install “Collusion” into your browser now. Assuming that is, that your browser is Firefox. The rest of you must, I’m afraid, continue to live in blissful ignorance. At least spend a few minutes on this site to see what you could be learning about what the “owners” are already learning about you…

Collusion.

The Best of Cablegate: Instances Where Public Discourse Benefited from the Leaks | Electronic Frontier Foundation

classic Trusted Surveillance examples of both need and delivery…

The Best of Cablegate: Instances Where Public Discourse Benefited from the Leaks | Electronic Frontier Foundation.

How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents.

regrettably, few will know about the contents of this excellent historical summary. Few will read it.

It outlines capital crimes committed by a series of American Presidents which put them, collectively at least, in the same league as Stalin, Hitler and Mao, although, to be fair, they did at least have the “decency” to concentrate most of their fire on johnny foreigner rather than their own citizens. Which is probably why they’ve got away with it so often and often so blatantly.

They really are immune. Cheney has confirmed that, if there was any lingering doubt. He’s confessed to the war crime of torture and isn’t even being seriously criticised for it, let alone prosecuted.

The fact that most Americans are unaware of or deny the validity of the charges laid out in this article, is a major reason why the constant global crisis caused and profitably maintained by the American Military Industrial Empire can proceed with relative impunity. With the complicity of the media, the common citizen has been so deeply conditioned and confused that they cannot conceive that their masters could ever really be such monsters…

How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents..

Will Netanyahu Use US Elections to Push Obama into Iran War?

this feels uncomfortably accurate and illustrates a very clever Israeli Tail wagging a very large American bitch…

Will Netanyahu Use US Elections to Push Obama into Iran War?.

A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors – YouTube

extremely cool and they’re only going to get smaller and cooler – expect hd video from a swarm of gnats sometime in the next decade or two. Trouble is, it’s starting its life in the wrong hands…

A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors – YouTube.