Sen. Feinstein's Response to Terrorist Arrests: Ban Things from the Internet

Another round of complaints about the evils of information.


Today, law enforcement officials announced the arrest of two women in New York for allegedly trying to make bombs in a basement as some sort of show of support of the Islamic State. Take note that, as is usual with these domestic cases, it appears the FBI was heavily involved the whole time, and the women didn't seem to know what the hell they were doing (consulting an introduction to chemistry book to try to get instructions for building the bomb). When ABC News broke the story, they reported outright that any plotting "was more aspirational than operational."

But nevertheless the existence of tools online, like The Anarchist Cookbook and al Qaeda's Inspire magazine, tools that could possibly help anybody make things explode, has activated the censorious tendencies of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif). Here's what she has to say about the plotting, via The Hill:

"I am particularly struck that the alleged bombers made use of online bombmaking guides like the Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire Magazine," she said in a statement shortly after the arrests were announced. 

"These documents are not, in my view, protected by the First Amendment and should be removed from the Internet."

Feinstein has previously tried to turn her personal interpretation of the limits of the First Amendment, unsuccessfully, into law before, back in the 1990s. She attempted to put a provision in a defense spending bill that would make it unlawful to demonstrate the making of any explosive materials or distribute such demonstration material if the person "intends or knows" that such information would be used for criminal activity. That seems to be an awfully vague threshold that could target anybody teaching chemistry. It was removed from the spending bill.

There is no chance Feinstein's wishes would come true, or even could come true these days. It's nevertheless a reminder that Feinstein is perfectly fine with censorship. Just don't try to censor her stuff.