Sunday, November 10, 2013

With a Friend Like This...

Trey Smith

Remember a week or so ago when staunch NSA defender Sen. Dianne Feinstein became all "upset" that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been spied on? Feinstein announced that this was going too far and it had motivated her to introduce legislation to "reform" the nasty NSA. As it turns out, Feinstein has an odd way of defining the word, reform.
The legislation would make clear in no uncertain terms that communication records like phone, email, and internet data can be collected without even an ounce of suspicion, pursuant to the so-called privacy rules already in place. Being silent on other types of data like location information or financial records, it passively condones their collection too, but without even the benefit of the paltry protections in place now. For the first time in history, Congress would explicitly and intentionally authorize dragnet domestic spying programs targeting every day Americans.

The Feinstein bill also makes the current situation even worse. It gives the government a 72-hour grace period to warrantlessly spy on foreigners who enter the US, without even the attorney general approval that is currently required in emergency situations. It explicitly states that none of its provisions should be read to prevent law enforcement from digging through massive NSA databases for evidence of criminal activity. By doing so, it authorizes that specific practice in a roundabout way. Finally, it sets up the prospect of all members of Congress accessing important court orders and other information, but then undercuts this requirement by endorsing current rules and practices that have been used to prevent members of the House from reading foundational documents that could inform the votes they must make on whether to continue these programs.
I think we can call this doubling down! Not only does she not really want to reform anything, she wants to make a bad situation worse. She wants to provide the NSA with the legal permission to do whatever they want to. She wants to grant the NSA the ability to ignore the US Constitution outright.

It also should be remembered that Dianne Feinstein is a D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T, not some rabid conservative who doesn't trust the rabble. She supposedly is a leading member of a political party that historically stood up for the unwashed masses. Sadly, that Democratic Party is dead as a doornail. What we are left with is two parties that represent the same constituency -- the elite. No one is left to represent the rest of us.

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