I've wondered why Dianne Feinstein so persistently defends NSA and other surveillance abuses. Now she is proposing a bill designed to avoid reining in these abuses--an attempt to circumvent other, more substantive bills such as that of Jim Sensenbrenner and Pat Leahy--and yesterday she penned a paean to surveillance in USA Today that, more than anything, sounds like it was written by a robot.
On Oct 2 The Hill wrote about Feinstein's plan to save surveillance in a story titled, Feinstein Vows to Kill Leahy's Bill.
As head of the Senate Intelligence committee, she is one of only eight Congresspeople who gets highly classified intel briefings, and is the top legislator responsible for oversight of US intelligence gathering. Don't you think her communications were the first to be collected? The way she slavishly carries NSA's dirty water shouts "blackmail". She has a lot to lose. Her Senate disclosure lists assets of between 43 and 99 million dollars, making her the fifth richest US Senator.
How many of our elected representatives have not a single skeleton in the closet for the intelligence agencies to exploit?
Former NSA official Russell Tice recently claimed that back in 2004, he had orders in his hand to wiretap Senators Barack Obama, Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gen. David Petraeus, and a current Supreme Court Justice (Alito). Quoting Tice:
"The abuse is rampant and everyone is pretending that it's never happened, and it couldn't happen. ... I know [there was abuse] because I had my hands on the papers for these sorts of things: They went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of congress — Senate and the House — especially on the intelligence committees and the armed services committees, lawyers, law firms, judges, State Department officials, part of the White House, multinational companies, financial firms, NGOs, civil rights groups ..."UPDATE Nov 2 (thanks to Washington's blog and Ars Technica): Stanford Law Professor on Feinstein's bill:
“I’d laugh if I weren’t so offended,” said Jennifer Granick, of Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, in an e-mailed comment about Feinstein’s bill. [Granickteaches cyber law at Stanford Law School.] “It legalizes the currently illegal bulk collection of phone records and its language—whether sloppily or intentionally, I don’t know—encourages the NSA to conduct bulk collection of other kinds of records under 215, well as , without even the bill’s purported ‘safeguards.’”
The “enhanced criminal penalties” for unauthorized access to data actually criminalizes anyone who accesses a computer “without authorization,” noted Ruthann Robson, professor of Law at City University of New York. “While couched in protecting privacy and data, this provision would also further sanction and chill whistleblowers.”
“The modest improvements [the bill] makes are far outweighed by the damage it does to civil liberties,” said Greg Nojeim, of the Center for Democracy and Technology.Thanks Diane. I mean Big Sister.
UPDATE from TechDirt: How Feinstein's bill would legalize NSA spying, and it includes a copy of the bill.