Feinstein (Again) Says Metadata Program 'Is Not Surveillance'

from the you're-only-embarrassing-yourself,-Dianne dept

Senator Dianne Feinstein's war of words in defense of the NSA's programs continues, despite both the political tide and public favor shifting in the other direction. According to Feinstein, everyone is still suffering from some sort of mass delusion when it comes to the Section 215 program.

“It’s not a surveillance program, it’s a data-collection program,” she said while appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Oh, but it's actually both. According to supporters of the NSA, metadata is just a bunch of anonymous numbers harvested in hopes of discovering needles. To those actually paying attention, metadata is a very efficient way to collect very personal information about someone. Just because it looks like data doesn't mean it's not surveillance. Let's not forget that metadata provides enough information to justify extrajudicial killings.

It's still surveillance. It just bears no resemblance to what spying used to mean. What the NSA has done is turn "surveillance" into something abstract, but equally invasive. It has eliminated the targeted nature of its classic definition and replaced it with servers full of data, all of it theoretically linked to another abstraction: "terrorism."

The headline says Feinstein "blasts" critics, but this sort of clueless pedantry doesn't actually "blast" anyone. Months after the defenders' assertions have been repeatedly dismantled (including two similar assertions by the senator), Feinstein's willingness to cling to a nostalgic view of surveillance could almost be termed "delightfully old school" -- if only she still didn't have at least one hand on the controls as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

She also said she wasn't aware of another revelation released in conjunction with Glenn Greenwald's book on Snowden and the NSA.
In “No Place to Hide,” released last week, Greenwald said the U.S. government places surveillance tools in technology equipment to be sold abroad, an accusation the U.S. government often lobs at the Chinese government.

That program “does not sound familiar,” Feinstein said Sunday.
Well, I'm sure the NSA keeps secrets from even you, Dianne. And I'm sure the NSA is at least as surprised as you are that the information is now public. No one seems to be aware of some of the stuff that has been leaked, elements of which have escaped even the attention of those on the committees that have performed actual oversight, rather than just stood cheering on the sidelines.

Ultimately, whether it doesn't fit into Feinstein's dewy-eyed surveillance ideal or if it has escaped (read: been withheld from) her attention, she's behind it. Because without all of this, we're doomed.
“I know they will come after us if they can, I see the intelligence,” she said.

“Terror is not down in the world, it is up.”
If that's so, remind us again why all the surveillance and expansion of government powers is necessary. Because it doesn't seem to have improved anything.

Filed Under: dianne feinstein, metadata, nsa, section 215, surveillance


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 May 2014 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What is surveillance?

    Inherent to the design of a democracy, it matters not what an individuals definition of "unreasonable" is. What matters is society's definition. By the logic of your argument, that the Constitution only specifies what the government CAN do, please tell me where it authorizes reasonable searches and seizures? It says they can issue warrants based on probable cause presented under oath. But no where does it say that those warrants authorize them to conduct a search or seizure or why. The truth is the Constitution does both at times. Sometimes it explicitly authorizes what the government can do. Much of the time, (such as most of what is here) it explicitly says what they can't do.

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