Dianne Feinstein is a traitor
By Frank Moraes
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 alwayswrong 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.
(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)