Dianne Feinstein Is a Traitor

Dianne FeinsteinIt’s hard to know what to think about Edward Snowden, the young man who leaked NSA information to the Guardian and the Washington Post. On the surface, it is all good and he looks like a hero. But I will admit that the story seems a little weird and so I will wait for more information. What can’t be questioned is that the documents leaked should have been leaked. The American public have a right to know about this stuff.

We’ve come a long way from where we started in this matter. It used to be that the government didn’t want newspapers to print troop movements. Now, the government doesn’t want newspapers to print that there is even a war. The dust up over Snowden’s revelations makes no sense. On the one hand we hear that he is a traitor who put American lives in danger. And on the other hand we hear that we already knew this was going on. This, of course, is what we heard about Bradley Manning, “This doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know—and it’s dangerous!”

Last night, The Hill reported that my very own United States Senator Dianne Feinstein thinks that Snowden is a traitor. On the most basic level, this is absurd. Just as I won’t say that he is a hero, she can’t know he is a traitor. But in her tiny mind he’s a traitor because he broke the law. She said, “He violated the oath, he violated the law. It’s treason.” Let’s just step back and think about it for a moment. Ever since the Nuremberg Trials, we have supposedly know that there are some orders—some laws—that should not be followed. My question for Ms. Feinstein is, “If the law said you should kill 6 million Jews, would you?”

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is typical of our elected officials. I think of this as the 5-year-old approach to justice: it is always wrong to lie; it is always wrong to fight; it is always wrong to break the law. Of course, Feinstein is all for complexity when it comes to defending her authoritarian approach to the surveillance state. Why do we need it? She’ll tell you it is because it saves lives. But she can’t show you the lives that it saved. Because that might cost lives. I’m serious! She says that she’d be all for accountability, “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good—has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”

Actually, it isn’t hard at all. As Scalia said, “I’ll bet you, if you conducted a lot of unreasonable searches and seizures, you’d get more convictions too.” The question is not whether having a member of the NSA follow each of us everywhere we go wouldn’t make us safer in the sense of fewer terrorist attacks. The question is whether the trade off is worth it. Clearly, Feinstein thinks the current actions of the NSA are worth it. I think they aren’t. I think it is worth talking about. Without Snowden we couldn’t even do that. Even with him it looks like we can’t.

Treason is a funny thing. When Feinstein was elected to Congress, she took an oath to uphold the Constitution. As the chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, she has not only allowed the government to infringe on my constitutional rights, she has cheered it on. Who’s the real traitor?

Update (11 June 2013 10:03 am)

I just wrote to Feinstein:

I’m displeased you are calling Edward Snowden a traitor. Breaking the law or an oath does not necessarily make one a traitor. All your public comments are doing is poisoning the water so that we can’t have a reasonable discussion of this. The truth is that at this point we can’t say if Snowden is a hero or a traitor. And you more than anyone ought to understand that. We didn’t send you to Washington so you could be a firewall against democracy and open government. Please at least moderate your rhetoric.
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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

1 thought on “Dianne Feinstein Is a Traitor

  1. I’m in the "Manning didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know" camp. But none of his leaks were dangerous. The most damning of them revealed atrocities in the Iraq War. Anyone with half a cerebellum already knew those were happening; they happen in all wars. The problem is, Americans don’t care. After My Lai, they simply stopped paying attention to unpleasant details about what war entails. I almost wish for Manning’s sake that he’d avoided whistleblowing. It certainly took guts to do what he did but it accomplished almost exactly nothing, and his life is probably ruined.

    There’s a weird, "leftists always eat each other" vibe brewing over his trial, and the Alex Gibney documentary about him and Assange, and the new NSA leaks. The left, as it is wont to do whenever it gets frustrated by failing to influence policy, is taking sides. Chris Hedges holds that Gibney, director of the anti-Enron "The Smartest Men In The Room" and the anti-finance "Client 9," about how Wall Street brought down muckraking Elliot Spitzer, is a servant of his corporate masters. Because his film on Manning and Assange explores Manning’s motivations and suggests Assange is less than a saint.

    Meanwhile the trenches are being dug on these NSA reveals. Is Glen Greenwald a stud for publishing them or playing into the hands of anti-Obama right-wing government-hating conspiracy theorists?

    Recently, I watched a documentary, not a great one, about ACT UP and the early years of AIDS. (A much better film is "We Were There," that’s quite affecting.) ACT UP had schisms, as leftists usually do, and it struck me why that is.

    We give a shit. Right-wingers who mouth Ayn Randy high-minded moral principles generally have only one real goal in mind — getting rewarded handsomely for serving power. So they are less likely to cannibalize each other over disputes on doctrine.

    Leftists aren’t in it primarily for personal gain (sure, they want recognition and respect, like anybody.) They want change for the better. When those changes are happening, they can unite behind a successful strategy (more or less.) When those changes aren’t happening, they get pissy, and understandably so. When nothing is working, my desperate idea to change our fortunes is just as unproven as yours, and the stakes are high in both our minds — we both think our plan is the best.

    Chris Hedges is a wonderful, useful writer. Alex Gibney is a good filmmaker with terrific interviewing skills (he gets people to share things on camera that Michael Moore, a much more powerful dramatist, can’t get, because of his often-confrontational interview style.) They’re on the same damn side. Yet Hedges thinks the cause is best served by not attacking Assange, while Gibney is apparently interested in making the WikiLeaks story approachable by exploring the human motivations of the characters. (I haven’t seen the new Gibney movie, but I like a lot of his work; "Client 9" especially.)

    Leftists shouldn’t eat each other — yet we do, and it’s because we know what we believe in and fight for is important.

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