Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Senior Quisling from California: Senility or Terminal Ignorance?

I've written our very own Ms. Diane Feinstein, Senior Quisling from California in the upper house of the US Knesset, numerous times in the past asking her to resign for betraying the Republic. When she voted for the wars on Iraq. When she condoned the warrant-less wiretapping of the NSA during Dubya's administration. When she engineered retroactive immunity for AT&T (a major contributor to her campaign coffers) and other telcos for allowing the warrant-less wiretapping. When she condoned the mass surveillance by the NSA revealed by Snowden. When she called Snowden a traitor. For violating her oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Out of a sense of decency.

Recently Feinstein has been much feted for getting the report of the Senate investigation into the CIA torture of prisoners following 9/11 released. The full report was not released and likely never will be. What was released was only the so-called executive summary, and even that with redactions. Despite acknowledging torture - as defined by both domestic statutes and by international laws and treaties to which the US is a signatory - by CIA agents, the report explicitly recommended against prosecuting anyone. If members of Congress were sincere in wanting to tell the public the whole truth they could read the entire report into the Congressional record from the floor of the Senate, with complete immunity. All these supposedly heroic efforts by Feinstein and her fellow Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee such as Ron Wyden, Mark Udall, and Patrick Leahy to inform the unwashed are nothing more than political kabuki.

Now to the latest from Feinstein. On April 2, 2015 it was reported that two New York women were arrested by the FBI for allegedly planning an ISIS-inspired bomb plot. Feinstein issued a press release commending the FBI and the NYPD on the arrests in which she says
I am particularly struck that the alleged bombers made use of online bombmaking guides like the Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire Magazine. These documents are not, in my view, protected by the First Amendment and should be removed from the Internet.
Surely even Feinstein's own partisans must concede that her own words above reveal a terminal misunderstanding of the internet and of the First Amendment. Techdirt ran an article titled FBI Uncovers Another Of Its Own Plots, Senator Feinstein Responds By Saying We Should Censor The Internet.

Feinstein is apparently clueless as to how the internet works. Feinstein apparently thinks every document on the internet comes with a self-destruct button that can be remotely activated by the US government.

Feinstein also reveals an unforgivable ignorance of the First Amendment. The Anarchist Cookbook is most certainly protected by the First Amendment. In 1996 the Senior Quisling submitted the following amendment to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act:
It shall be unlawful for any person to teach or demonstrate the making of explosive materials, or to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture of explosive materials, if the person intends or knows, that such explosive materials or information will likely be used for, or in furtherance of, an activity that constitutes a Federal criminal offense or a criminal purpose affecting interstate commerce.
Targeting not just the Anarchist Cookbook but also many others such as Guerrilla's Arsenal: Advanced Techniques For Making Explosives and Time-delay Bombs (Paladin Press, 1994), The Anarchist Arsenal (Harber, 1992), Deadly Brew: Advanced Improvised Explosives (Paladin Press, 1987), The Anarchist's Handbook (J. Flores, 1995), Improvised Explosives: How To Make Your Own (Paladin Press, 1985), Ragnar's Guide to Home and Recreational Use of High Explosives (Paladin Press, 1988).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) examined the constitutionality of Feinstein's amendment and reported that:
The First Amendment would impose substantial constraints on any attempt to proscribe indiscriminately the dissemination of bombmaking information. The government generally may not, except in rare circumstances, punish persons either for advocating lawless action or for disseminating truthful information -- including information that would be dangerous if used -- that such persons have obtained lawfully.
So Feinstein ought to be well aware that the Anarchist Cookbook is most definitely protected by the First Amendment. Then again, Feinstein is on record claiming that The First Amendment is a special privilege, not a right. Feinstein has also been a vocal proponent of the Flag Burning Amendment.

Feinstein's attempts to directly gut the First Amendment have not been thwarted. On the Fourth Amendment however she has met with enormous success and through that has managed to chill the First Amendment. She has been instrumental in gutting the Fourth Amendment via her support of warrant-less wiretapping, of the secret FISA courts which issue secret rulings allowing mass surveillance in complete disregard of the Fourth Amendment's requirements for individualized warrants based on probable cause, the NSA's mass surveillance of the internet and phone activities of all Americans (even the entire world!), condoning so-called extraordinary rendition and torture by the CIA by insisting that no one should be prosecuted for these crimes, by her support of the execution of American citizens via drone attacks (e.g., Anwar al-Awlaki) without any judicial oversight.

We can but hope that when the revolution comes Quisling Feinstein will be the first against the wall.

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