Redefining English: Senator Feinstein Says The Press Needs To Stop Calling Patriot Act Surveillance Program A 'Surveillance Program'

from the wow dept

It’s no secret that the intelligence community tries to give the “least untruthful” answers by basically redefining the English language. In an open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing today, in which Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA boss Keith Alexander and Deputy Attorney General James Cole all got to talk up how important spying on everyone is, there was an incredible moment in which Intelligence Committee boss Senator Dianne Feinstein scolded not these bosses of the surveillance program, but the press for calling it a surveillance program. Yes, you read that right. We’ll add the clipped video once it’s available, but she argued that the Patriot Act’s Section 215, which has been interpreted to allow for the collection of phone records on every phone call is NOT a surveillance program because it just “collects metadata.” She suggests that it’s unfair to call this surveillance program a surveillance program. That’s because she’s either lying or doesn’t understand what metadata reveals.

So we have a simple request. Since metadata is no big deal and it’s not surveillance, when will Senator Feinstein release all of the metadata on all of the phone calls to and from her various offices, mobile phones and home phones?

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Comments on “Redefining English: Senator Feinstein Says The Press Needs To Stop Calling Patriot Act Surveillance Program A 'Surveillance Program'”

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66 Comments
Bill Stewart says:

Re: my senator is incompetent

DiFi’s not incompetent. She’s got much different objectives than you or I do, and so far the government’s doing things her way rather than ours, so if anybody’s incompetent…. And she hasn’t had a serious primary-election challenger in years, and has gotten the Republicans to run lightweights like Elizabeth Emken against her, instead of anybody who’s going to be a real threat. (Her last serious challenger was probably Arianna Huffington’s now-ex-husband Michael in 1994.)

Now, if you want to call her “evil”, I’m just fine with that. But California’s got a strong Democratic Party majority, so she can get away with supporting wars and hating the parts of the Constitution that Democrats like just as much as the parts that Republicans like, and the Democrats will figure that electing an actual Republican isn’t going to be an improvement. I wish her a happy retirement, as soon as possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Would she prefer “Illegal Spying Program”? I’m sure most of the media would quite obligingly switch to that.

Or how about “Fourth Amendment Violating Program”? I’m sure reporters would cheerfully use that instead as well.

Perhaps “Track everyone you called, when you called them, what locations the two of you were at at the time of the call, and how long you talked with them Program”?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Just to clarify

Feinstein’s liberalism is not what is informing her position on the surveillance issue.

Liberalism, even American Liberalism has strong support of the enforcement of fourth- and fifth-amendment protections.

(Technically, Liberalism has strong support of Second-amendment protections, being pro-liberty, but that is a moral panic issue amongst many that is indulged by American Liberalism.)


As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
Thursday, September 26, 2013 Thursday, September 26, 2013
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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Just to clarify

You’re doing some heavy verbal gymnastics to say:

Technically, Liberalism has strong support of Second-amendment protections, being pro-liberty, but that is a moral panic issue amongst many that is indulged by American Liberalism.

Sen Feinstein’s liberal bias (same as the MSM) is the ONLY thing that is driving her actions.

“Conceal Carry Permit” Feinstein is fighting like hell to prevent me from having the same liberty she enjoys.

“Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA), author of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, is leading the charge on Capitol Hill to bring back the legislation since it expired in 2004.”

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Your correction is incorrect on multiple counts: The mainstream press’ bias is not toward liberalism, it is toward corporatism. Also, Feinstein tends to be strongly disliked by liberals in any case.

Liberals are just as outraged as conservatives over this kind of stuff, so I’m not even sure what you bring that up as a distinction.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

My point is that the notion of a liberally biased mainstream press is false, and that the reason that Feinstein takes the positions she does has nothing to do with liberalism.

The “correction” did have one thing right: Feinstein and the mainstream press are of like minds when it comes to the spying, but their shared ideology is corporatist, not liberalism.

I was making no comment about why people vote for her — that has more to do with the tribal warfare between Democrats and Republicans than with liberals vs conservatives.

out_of_the_blue says:

If you're going to be consistent, start calling Google a SPY AGENCY.

Oh, different then, eh?

But it SPIES like a spy agency, with tentacles all over the web like a spy agency; collects and collates every possible detail to track persons like a creepy spy agency, potential blackmail material besides industrial espionage or stock market insider trading, and it’s secretive like a spy agency…

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: If you're going to be consistent, start calling Google a SPY AGENCY.

They scour the web for any PUBLICLY AVAILABLE data, so that’s not spying at all. They go through your data only if you store your data with them, in which case that “accept” you clicked on gave them your permission, and that’s not spying at all.

One HUGE difference is, Google doesn’t try to hide what they do, nor do they lie about it.

Truth says:

Re: Re: If you're going to be consistent, start calling Google a SPY AGENCY.

@CommonSense

No disrespect, but you really have no idea how the modern web works nor an understanding of how much data actually flows through and to Google (and Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, etc.) even when you are not using their services or search engine. Using their services allows them to know exactly who you are. Otherwise, they still have a damn good idea of who you are anyway based on browsing history and habits, IP address rotation, times of access, etc. none of which require you to even open Google.com or use Gmail. Most ANY page you visit now will have several web beacons that check in with these companies and that is a more than decade old concept. It really is deeper than many know or think.

Also, she is an idiot that has no place in Congress, like many of them.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: If you're going to be consistent, start calling Google a SPY AGENCY.

I know full well how the modern web works, and unless you take action to prevent cookies and those other beacons you speak of, then yes they broadcast or what have you and take note of limited information unless you are signed in and agreed to it. The thing is, unless you have a static IP or something like that to where your electronic signature is always the same, then they only collect enough info to follow you around for a session, and only on such pages. Honestly though, I assume people in general (at least those on this site) are aware now of how much data CAN flow through such sites, and that they understand about browser add-ons to block them if that’s their desire. But, my point is still valid that Google does not try to hide or lie about what they do…(unless commanded to do so by the feds I guess..)

JMT says:

Re: If you're going to be consistent, start calling Google a SPY AGENCY.

“Oh, different then, eh?”

Monumentally different. So different I’d have an aneurysm trying to think otherwise.

“But it SPIES like a spy agency, with tentacles all over the web like a spy agency; collects and collates every possible detail to track persons like a creepy spy agency…”

Overblown as usual but not entirely incorrect…

“…potential blackmail material besides industrial espionage or stock market insider trading, and it’s secretive like a spy agency…”

…and then you steer into paranoid fantasy nonsense without a shred or evidence is history to back you up. No surprise.

The big differences of course are (1) using Google is entirely optional and (2) Google provides a ton of useful services that are immensely beneficial and enjoyable to millions of people every day. Don’t you think government spy agencies fall a bit short on those two points?

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Hey California!

Could you PLEASE vote this old lady out of office the next time she’s up for re-election (Preferably replacing her with a candidate who’s actually competent when it comes to the Internet/digital world)?

If she really wants us to stop calling it a surveillance program, then would she mind if we started calling it a domestic spy program instead?

I’m starting to think the Baby Boomer generation (and Feinstein’s generation) are screwing over Gen Y/Millenials, the generation of “digital natives”, on purpose…

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Hey California!

Could you PLEASE vote this old lady out of office the next time she’s up for re-election (Preferably replacing her with a candidate who’s actually competent when it comes to the Internet/digital world)?

She’s 80 and was just re-elected last year. So we’ve got 5 years to go, and doubtful she’ll run again then.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hey California!

Well damn. My condolences to the tech companies in California (Google, for one) for being stuck with a senator who should be raising hell over the stuff that the agency which has forced them to violate the trust of the consumer, but is defending that same agency with what feels like every fiber of her old, brittle being.

It’s times like these that I feel like there should be a maximum age limit for politicians.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Hey California!

Perhaps they should field candidates who can do a good job instead of party apparatchiks who do what their handlers tell them for fear of being primaried.

This is the party that put Mitt Romney up for election. Their presidential candidate lineup was a joke. Obama sailed back in on that. Here’s a hint: become more democratic and let party candidates think for themselves instead of choosing the most “ideologically pure” ones. Result: better candidates, better America. Or you can continue down the authoritarian line… good luck with that.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: It's called a dilemma.

The problem is, Feinstein’s rivals would also be pro-NSA, pro-surveillance, and would also be anti-gay and anti-women and anti-poor as well. I voted for Feinstein only to vote against worse options.

Really, there are no good options, and third parties don’t have a chance.

As for Luddite baby-boomers, I’ve done everything I can to train my parents and their generation to adapt to the internet and use it, and many do. But there are some people that think you’re cheating if you’re using a Selectric.


As of this posting I have not received a US National Security Letter or any classified gag order from an agent of the United States
Encrypted with Morbius-Cochrane Perfect Steganographic Codec 1.2.001
Thursday, September 26, 2013 1:53:50 PM
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ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: It's called a dilemma.

Really, there are no good options, and third parties don’t have a chance

I really hate this attitude, the equivalent of which is saving, “if you vote for a third party you are wasting your vote.” I say NO — if you are voting either Democrat or Republican it is YOU who is wasting your vote since both parties are essentially the same and are only looking to protect themselves.

It is the classic self fulfilling prophecy.

If it weren’t for attitudes like yours third parties would have a chance.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: First-past-the-post. Learn it. Know it. Hate it.

I really hate this attitude, the equivalent of which is saving, “if you vote for a third party you are wasting your vote.”…If it weren’t for attitudes like yours third parties would have a chance.

That is exactly what I’m saying, and while you can fantasize all you want about grassroots attempts to bring in a third party, on a scale like that of California (or even one of it’s representative districts) tragedy-of-the-commons will kill your idealistic third-party ambitions. Every. Single. Time.

It’s a weakness of first-past-the-post election systems, which we haven’t updated (regarding national representative elections) since we made it.

Even then, we’ve gotten good people into office, and they tend to either go bad (e.g. play ball) or go inert (e.g. become useless). So all your effort, even if you did get one of your third-party saviors into office, would probably be moot as he or she got completely walked over for not toeing the line. Even the well-spoken Al Franken has had his sense of humor, along with his human soul, sucked out of him by the process.

So no. I’m open to solutions, ottermaton, but your line of if you can’t organize well enough to get a third-party candidate into office, it’s your fault is not going to manifest a voting block large enough to actually succeed. What it might do (if you succeed enough) is throw the election to the other guy, thereby punishing the third-party constituents for even trying. This is why PACs often throw money to third-party candidates that show potential to bleed votes from their primary competitor.

How the fuck did you get on this boat?

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 First-past-the-post. Learn it. Know it. Hate it.

while you can fantasize all you want

Why, thank you. I think I shall.
?
?Don’t ever become a pessimist… a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.” – Robert Heinlein

I won’t even bother to reply to the rest of your screed. I choose to go have fun.

PS: the boat I am on its a nice, little, perfectly adequate sailboat. Yours, however, looks to be a rusty old oil tanker thats been heading toward an iceberg for a long time and won’t change course. Good luck with that!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Time for one of the classics

If she’s that concerned with what it’s being called(and ‘surveillance program’ is really being kind compared to some other names I could think of), perhaps she should bone up on her Shakespeare.

‘…What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet’

It doesn’t matter what it’s called, you’re still talking about a constitutional violating, law bending/breaking, based on lies program that pretty much everyone without a stake in it believes should be limited or flat out shut down, with trials and jail-time for those involved.

beltorak (profile) says:

So we have a simple request. Since metadata is no big deal and it’s not surveillance, when will Senator Feinstein release all of the metadata on all of the phone calls to and from her various offices, mobile phones and home phones?

Let’s not forget, we can also access her family’s phone records, doctor appointment times, shopping habits, etc etc. (Does she have grandchildren? How often were they late to school?) Same for all of their friends / schoolmates / collegues.

After all, if 2-3 hops is relevent enough for the NSA, then it should be relevent enough for the proponents of this “no-really-it’s-not-I-tell-you surveillance program”.

I couldn’t think of a better time to be watching CSPAN and have someone extrapolate when her youngest granddaughter started her first period.

known coward says:

This is one of the bad things about having a democrat as president.

Deep in your heart, you all know if Mr. Obama were still a senator he would be screaming bloody murder about these programs, how much they infringe on the rights of Americans and need to be stopped now. He would be right of course.

But when you are a Chief Executive, you want wield supreme executive power to do your job. Your responsible for the safety of the nation from enemy attack. You want to know what your enemies foreign or domestic are up too, and will do anything to stay one step ahead of them, in order to do complete your first mandate. Make sure no group of putz?s drive a few planes and/or trucks into a few office buildings including the pentagon and white house.

The republicans for the most part are more supportive of a police state than the demorcats. They are not going to say ?no don?t spy on foreigners? they usually support it in the first place. Now with the democrats in power and wanting to stay in power, they will support the demands of the police state so another 9/11 does not happen during their term

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