The Security State Crushes Ever Tighter 496

The disgraceful judges of Britain’s High Court – who have gone along with torture, extraordinary rendition, every single argument for mass surveillance and hiding information from the public, and even secret courts – have ruled that it was lawful for the Home Office to detain David Miranda, a journalist as information he was carrying might in some undefined way, and if communicated to them, aid “terrorists”.

Despite the entire industry, both private and governmental, devoted to whipping up fear, it is plain to pretty well everyone by now that terrorism is about the most unlikely way for you to die.  A car accident is many hundreds of times more likely.  Even drowning in your own bath is more likely.  Where is the massive industry of suppression against baths?

I had dinner inside the Ecuadorian Embassy on Sunday with Julian Assange, who I am happy to say is as fit and well as possible in circumstances of confinement.  Amongst those present was Jesselyn Radack, attorney for, among others, Edward Snowden.  Last week on entering the UK she was pulled over by immigration and interrogated about her clients.  The supposed “immigration officer” already knew who are Jesselyn Radack’s clients.  He insisted aggressively on referring repeatedly to Chelsea Manning as a criminal, to which Jesselyn quietly replied that he was a political prisoner.  But even were we to accept the “immigration officer’s” assertion, the fact that an attorney defends those facing criminal charges is neither new nor until now considered reprehensible and illegitimate.

As various states slide towards totalitarianism, a defining factor is that their populations really don’t notice.  Well, I have noticed.  Have you?




496 thoughts on “The Security State Crushes Ever Tighter

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  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    “Illustrates the paradox that it is a lot easier to criticise Israel in Israel than in the US (thanks to AIPAC)” (frpm Ba’al Zebub)

    Yes, that’s quite often said and I wouldn’t argue against it without the benefit of in-depth study and analysis of the situation. If it is true, however, then one might point to this as an example of the democratic nature of the Israeli state (as enunciated in one of Israel’s Basic Laws – the one from 1992 in point of fact).

    Having said that, I don’t think it would be sufficient to make me want to go and live in Israel, in the same way that the frequent praise of President rasPutin’s Russia br certain people is insifficient to make those people want to go and live in Russia.

  • Mary

    Weekend Edition February 21-23, 2014

    The Revolution is Here to Stay
    Venezuela Beyond the Protests


    For those of you unfamiliar with Venezuelan issues, don’t let the title of this article fool you. The revolution referred to is not what most media outlets are showing taking place today in Caracas, with protestors calling for the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The revolution that is here to stay is the Bolivarian Revolution, which began in 1998 when Hugo Chavez was first elected president and has subsequently transformed the mega oil producing nation into a socially-focused, progressive country with a grassroots government. Demonstrations taking place over the past few days in Venezuela are attempts to undermine and destroy that transformation in order to return power to the hands of the elite who ruled the nation previously for over 40 years.

    Those protesting do not represent Venezuela’s vast working class majority that struggled to overcome the oppressive exclusion they were subjected to during administrations before Chavez. The youth taking to the streets today in Caracas and other cities throughout the country, hiding their faces behind masks and balaclavas, destroying public buildings, vehicles, burning garbage, violently blocking transit and throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at security forces are being driven by extremist right-wing interests from Venezuela’s wealthiest sector. Led by hardline neoconservatives, Leopoldo Lopez, Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado – who come from three of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, the 1% of the 1% – the protesters seek not to revindicate their basic fundamental rights, or gain access to free healthcare or education, all of which are guaranteed by the state, thanks to Chavez, but rather are attempting to spiral the country into a state of ungovernability that would justify an international intervention leading to regime change.


    Unlike some who comment on Venezuela here, Eva Golinger lives in Caracas. Her blog is
    Postcards from the Revolution

  • Abe Rene

    I am concerned about the power of the government to strip people of their citizenship without due process. Does anyone know whether the extension of the power to people who would be made stateless as a result has already become law?

  • Mary

    Nevermind Saw this and thought of you! I expect that there are many such examples in every location.

    The Guardian are reporting that there are over 700,000 empty homes in the UK and 11m in Europe. A scandal indeed.

    Scandal of Europe’s 11m empty homes
    Housing campaigners denounce ‘shocking waste’ of homes lying empty while millions cry out for shelter

  • Ba'al Zevul (Etc)

    ‘Yes, that’s quite often said and I wouldn’t argue against it without the benefit of in-depth study and analysis of the situation. If it is true, however, then one might point to this as an example of the democratic nature of the Israeli state (as enunciated in one of Israel’s Basic Laws – the one from 1992 in point of fact).’

    Dropped like a hot potato from the Basic Law of 1992 (which is when it first became legally binding) was, of course, the equality clause in the Declaration of Independence….

    … that the State of Israel would ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex, and guaranteed freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture. However, the Knesset maintains that the declaration is neither a law nor an ordinary legal document.[28] The Supreme Court has ruled that the guarantees were merely guiding principles, and that the declaration is not a constitutional law making a practical ruling on the upholding or nullification of various ordinances and statutes. Whenever an explicit statutory measure of the Knesset leaves no room for doubt, it is honored even if inconsistent with the principles in the Declaration of Independence.[Wiki]

    Yes, Israel is a democratic State. If you’re Jewish. Only. And that freedom of speech can be a little bit selective too –

    While peaceful protest by Arabs is definitely a no-no –

    So I wouldn’t fall over myself to praise Israel just because Israeli Jews allow each other to debate there.

    Any more than I endorse Putin, who does not have a large, well-organised and politically embedded lobby group working to elide his many crimes and retain the uncritical support of the UK and US.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Etc)

    If you recall that Meyrav Wurmser, an Ashkenazi, was a co-founder of MEMRI. and helped write “A Clean Break” ( ), this is a fairly astonishing piece by her on the racist attitudes of Ashkenazim to Sephardim (Mizrahim – the Jewish Arabs of the ME)-

    Until you get to the end, which concludes that although Zionism has discriminated against Sephardim, Zionism’s what they’ve got, and they’d better get used to it. Phew. Had me worried there, Meyrav…

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Ba’ar Zevul

    A couple of comments on your post at 11h34.

    “Dropped like a hot potato from the Basic Law of 1992 (which is when it first became legally binding) was, of course, the equality clause in the Declaration of Independence….”

    I don’t think it’s quite fair to use the word “dropped”. Firstly – given that the Declaration of Independence preceded the Basic Law of 1992 – it would be more correct to say, eg, “not taken up in” or “not subsumed in”. A small point, but words are important in attempting to discuss matters such as this in an objective way. Seconly – and more importantly – as you yourself quote –
    ” However, the Knesset maintains that the declaration is neither a law nor an ordinary legal document.[28] The Supreme Court has ruled that the guarantees were merely guiding principles, and that the declaration is not a constitutional law..”; it is therefore somewhat illogical to complain that something which has been declared a guiding principle has not become part of a subsequent Law, thereby acquiring the status of a law.

    “Yes, Israel is a democratic State. If you’re Jewish. Only.”

    No, that is not exact. Israeli Arabs have the vote and, for that matter, their own political parties. Furthermore, I think that Israeli Arabs do enjoy “..freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.” (to take up your quote from the Declaration of Independence).

    “So I wouldn’t fall over myself to praise Israel…”


    More emotive language which I don’t think is borne out by anything posted here on this blog.

    “Putin, who does not have a large, well-organised and politically embedded lobby group working to elide his many crimes and retain the uncritical support of the UK and US.”

    That is factually correct but, if I may say so, irrelevant to the question of whether or not Israel is a democracy (or indeed to the question of the extent to which rasPutin’s Russia is a democracy as most people would understand that term).


  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    PS to Ba’ar Zevul

    I note that the article from the New Statesman you link to conatins the following in its very first paragraph:

    “In the last week BICOM has published a series of essays on ‘Israel’s democratic futures’ (if that’s a question, the answer is ‘here’s hoping’). ”

    Not a very reassuring bit of writing and not very likely to instill confidence in the writer’s objectivity, is it.

  • mark golding

    Geopolitics rules OK? While many in Britain rely on food-banks to survive and many more in Britain are homeless, chancellor Osborne promises an open checkbook to any pro-European and pro-NATO ‘associate’ in need of financial assistance.

    Speaking in Sydney after the G20 finance ministers conference, George Osborne, the chancellor, said British cash is available to help Ukraine return to stability.

    “We are here ready to help just as soon as there is someone at the end of the telephone. We should be there with a chequebook to help the people of Ukraine rebuild their country,” he said.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized on Thursday the West’s threat to impose sanctions on Ukraine as a blackmail and double standards.

    In a cold-war context–in which East and West battle for influence, Britain has used the ‘sanctions’ threat against the elected government of Ukraine and America has ‘warned’ Russia against putting ‘boots on the ground’ in an attempt to protect it’s interests.

    As a component of the Western backed coup, CIA man and and Yulia Tymoshenko’s buddy Oleksandr Turchynov, has issued an arrest for impeached President Yanukovych for crimes against humanity.

    I myself believe this game of chess is to ‘check’ Russia and force her into creating independence to Russian aligned East Ukraine thus keeping her eye is ‘off the ball’ to the situation in Kiev. Putin would be wise to concentrate on his economic leverage forcing the West into granting Ukraine debt forgiveness and restructuring along with a hefty aid package.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Etc)

    It’s a pity you can’t bring yourself pick the nits out of the Israeli Basic Law as diligently as you search for them in anything remotely supporting the Palestinian case for self-determination in their own native land.

    And I see you are a big fan of obfuscation and weasel words. But thank you for confirming that the concept of equality before the law (you can ask the thousands of Palestinians held without charge or access for years in Israeli jails about that) was too inconvenient to be formally embodied in the code, and get-out clauses had to be liberally sprinkled over the mess in case anyone thought the original terms of the D of I were anything but a cosmetic measure designed to appease the UN.

    Meanwhile in Gaza, the involuntarily stateless persist in their ghetto.

    What else can you possibly call it?

    Human rights my arse.

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!
    23 Feb, 2014 – 1:23 pm

    Doug Scorgie says:
    “…it is disturbing but not surprising; power corrupts.”

    “I would tend to agree with that and therefore draw the conclusion that many of the woes and travails of humanity have their roots in the nature of the human being himself and are not unique to the UK, the USA and the West.”

    Quite true Habbabkuk not unique at all.

    Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. History is full of examples.

    A prime example being Hitler’s Nazis and the extermination camps.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Etc)

    Not a very reassuring bit of writing and not very likely to instill confidence in the writer’s objectivity, is it.

    The New Statesman is no more objective than the Jerusalem Post, and doesn’t pretend to be. On the other hand, it does its research, doesn’t always swallow Ron Prosor press handouts whole, and has some well-referenced and valid points. Which are incontestable, [Accusation deleted. Give a reference or quote instead.]

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!
    23 Feb, 2014 – 11:17 pm

    “I too share Mary’s pride in Russia’s achievements at the Sub-tropical Olympics, just ended. It was a splendid performance, made all the more splendid when you consider it was achieved by the only major nation whose population is steadily declining year on year owing to decreasing life expectancy.”

    Habbabkuk “Vodka Blamed for Dismal Russian Life Expectancy Figures”

  • doug scorgie

    Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!
    23 Feb, 2014 – 11:38 pm

    Mr Lawton

    “…could you just be a tad more specific, so we can look up the case…”

    Good advice Habbabkuk please take it yourself.

  • glenn_uk

    Hello Habbabkuk… did you notice I’d replied to your questions to me on CCTV and state surveillance?

  • Mary

    An e-mail received today…..

    Thanks for signing up to the Privacy International mailing list! Last week, you participated in a global day of action: The Day We Fight Back. It was an amazing effort from thousands of organisations, and thanks to people like you, we are at the beginning of a movement to put an end to mass surveillance around the world.

    You may be new to Privacy International, so let us introduce ourselves. PI is a London-based charity that is committed to fighting for the right to privacy across the world. We’re a team of activists, investigators, researchers, and lawyers who envision a world in which the right to privacy is protected, respected, and fulfilled. We’ve been around since 1990, and were the first international organisation working on privacy rights, back when that meant dealing with this emerging thing called the “internet”.

    What are we doing right now? PI is challenging powerful governments and companies to ensure that your rights are upheld, and fighting to keep the surveillance state in check. Here are just a few of the things we’ve been doing over the past few weeks:

    We filed a criminal complaint with the UK National Crime Agency on behalf of an Ethiopian political refugee here in the UK, who was spied on using British-made surveillance technology sold to governments.
    We recently launched a campaign to pry open the alliance of the US National Security Agency and its fellow intelligence agencies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, and bring it under the rule of law. Recently, we wrote to all of them to get copies of their spy agreement, and their responses were…interesting.
    Repressive regimes have ambitions to keep pace with the NSA through the help of the commercial surveillance market. Through materials collected at surveillance trade shows around the world and information provided by Wikileaks and other organisations, PI hosts the Surveillance Industry Index, the largest catalogue of the private surveillance sector ever assembled.
    We’ll help you stay on top of urgent and emerging issues related to privacy, surveillance, and so much more through our monthly newsletter, Private Thoughts.

    Stayed tuned for updates on our new project working with partners in 13 countries around the world to understand modern surveillance techniques, an upcoming meeting in Geneva at the Human Rights Council led by PI, and the latest in our legal challenge against the UK Government for its involvement in PRISM and its vast global communications surveillance apparatus, Tempora.

    We’re excited you’re a part of our growing community. The Day We Fight Back may be over, but we still need you to be our activists on the ground.

    If you think PI is doing great work, why not help us spread the word? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to sign-up to our mailing list. As a charity, we also rely heavily on donations. Please consider lending your support by making a donation to PI.

    Thanks again for your support!

    The PI Team

  • Mary

    LATEST:UK Foreign Secretary William Hague will travel to Washington to speak to US Secretary of State and IMF about the Ukraine crisis

    Ashton is in Kiev.

    Ukrainians – beware of Greeks bearing gifts. If you get an IMF bailout, you won’t know what’s hit you in terms of cuts and austerity.

    ‘Interim Finance Minister Yuriy Kolobov has said Ukraine needs around $35bn (£21bn) in urgent foreign aid and asked for an international donors’ conference to be held.

    Moscow recently agreed to provide $15bn for Ukraine’s struggling economy – a move seen as a reward for Mr Yanukovych’s controversial decision not to sign the long-planned trade deal with the EU.

    But there are fears Moscow could withdraw that offer. Ukraine has state debts of some $73bn, with around $6bn to be paid this year.’

    BBC website.

  • Mary

    The Rehabilitation of Tymoshenko
    Unleashing the Gas Princess


    ‘The anti-government forces have invested in her rehabilitation. She is being purified as figurehead, ill but unrepentant. Her record is being white washed, and she is being granted holy orders in the revolutionary movement. Yanukovych might be deemed a beast, but Tymoshenko is no saintly maiden of clean persuasions.

    The WikiLeaks US cables shed some light on the picture of the ambitious Tymoshenko. It is worth noting – after all, Washington claims it has an intrusive canine in this fight. The sub-title of one dispatch on February 24, 2010 is instructive: “Tymoshenko: Power-hungry Populist.” Former Tymoshenko associate, economist and Minister of Finance Viktor Pynzenyk is mentioned, having failed to understand her logic on reforming (or non-reform) of the economy. She had “wasted the opportunity in favor of populism and a simple desire for all-embracing power.”

    The anti-West, pro-Russian divide (and vice-versa) is at best a deceptive construction on interest and self-interest. Even the “West” is confused on this. For one, the EU and the US do not see eye to eye on all matters regarding Ukraine – Nuland’s blunt “gaffe” was hardly an accident. Tymoshenko was happy to play Moscow and Western powers when it suited her. The Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash was certainly aware. Tickle patriotism a bit and you are bound to find the laughter of a looter. In the cable “B.KYIV 2294” from December 2008, a meeting between Firtash and the American ambassador is discussed. While not asking Washington for any favours “he spoke at length about his business and politics in a visible effort to improve his image with the USG.”

    Firtash finds Tymoshenko to be “an accomplished oligarch who had made deals with Moscow that would leave Ukraine vulnerable to Russian oligarchs in the future – something neither he nor Ukrainian billionaire and PoR backer Rinat Ahkmetov could stand by and watch happen.”’

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