Dianne Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein Ignores GOP Lawmakers, Blames #ReleaseTheMemo on Russians and Social Media Instead

Any excuse to try to censor the internet

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Trust Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to try to turn a political controversy into an excuse to censor social media.

A bunch of Republican lawmakers have been rallying around a classified memo by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The memo purports to show FBI abuses connected to the secret surveillance of people involved with Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The push to declassify the document was national news last week, complete with a hashtag campaign, #ReleaseTheMemo. It was discussed by every major news outlet. Several GOP lawmakers tweeted the hashtag.

Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are upset because a bunch of Russian-operated Twitter accounts may have jumped on this and attempted the magnify the hashtag campaign's reach. The two of them have sent a letter to Twitter and Facebook pretty much demanding that they investigate the extent of the Russian involvement in the hashtag campaign. And they want a response in three days:

If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process. This should be disconcerting to all Americans, but especially your companies as, once again, it appears the vast majority of their efforts are concentrated on your platforms. This latest example of Russian interference is in keeping with Moscow's concerted, covert, and continuing campaign to manipulate American public opinion and erode trust in our law enforcement and intelligence institutions.

Feinstein is confusing a symptom for a problem, as politicians often do when they have agendas to pursue. It's absurd to hold Russia responsible for the hashtag in any meaningful sense, given that Republican lawmakers were openly, overtly screaming it from the rooftops, on Twitter, and in front of every news camera they could see. A source familiar with how Twitter works told The Hill that the growth of the hashtag appeared to have happened organically. If Russian trolls and bots were involved, they were at most magnifying a conflict that was already underway. They didn't set this fire, and they weren't the chief force spreading it.

Feinstein's political machinations here are twofold. She's trying to make the case that the feds must regulate social media because of foreign involvement in American elections; and second, she's using the familiar guilt-by-association logical fallacy to discredit her political opponents.

Feinstein's love of censorship is well known. She flat-out wants to suppress online content that she deems dangerous. This lack of respect for Americans' speech rights and privacy is one of the few things she has in common with Trump.

As for the guilt-by-association issue, it's remarkable how little people on either side are interested in engaging the surveillance issues that undergird this fight and instead want to make it all about attacking or defending Trump. I've already mocked Republicans acting outraged about the Nunes memo because a bunch of them just voted to expand the feds' power to snoop on American citizens for purposes unrelated to terrorism and espionage. On the very same day this hashtag campaign was launching, Trump signed that bill into law.

The discussion of actual surveillance policy got drowned by constant efforts to either discredit Trump (by any silly memes necessary) or to discredit the FBI investigation. What's most obnoxious about Feinstein and Schiff's response here is how it simply does not engage the complaint that the surveillance state might have abused its powers when it snooped on and possibly unmasked the identities of people in Trump's orbit.

Personally, based on my experience covering the federal surveillance apparatus, I doubt the Nunes memo actually reveals illegal conduct by federal officials. That's actually part of the problem—it's too easy for the feds to legally justify secretly snooping. Nevertheless, the Nunes memo should be declassified and released, as should the secret court warrant request that serves as the memo's foundation. Could there be a better example for the American public to be able to pick apart the consequences of our federal surveillance state than by learning exactly how it spied on the staff of a candidate for president?

But no: When Feinstein actually had the opportunity to make surveillance laws better, she abandoned her own amendment and signed on to terrible legislation. And now she wants to make this all about Russian meddling in American elections, and to use that as an excuse for more censorship. We need more sunlight, not more secrecy.

Related: ReasonTV on politicians invoking "fake news" as an excuse to control what people can see on the internet:

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    1. It’s too late. Those millions of lives have already been lost since its repeal.

      1. And I had to type this response on a 14.4 dial up modem.

        1. Sure future boy. Rub it in.

        2. Wow, you had a 14.4? All I had was a 300 baud. When the 1200s came out it was blinding how fast they were by comparison.

          1. I remember playing Colossal Caverns at 110 baud…

            T…h…e D…w…a…r…f t…h…r…o…w…s a…n a…x…e……………
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  1. If releasing the memo can undermine confidence in the country’s intelligence agencies is that not a bigger problem than the Russians askimg for the memo being released?

    This is a sort of argument that is popping up all over that I find baffling. The implication that having confidence in institutional integrity is more important than the institutions actually having integrity.

    1. Unjustified confidence in institutional integrity is far more dangerous than a lack of confidence in institutional integrity.

      This sort of thing is one of the main obstacles to establishing effective police accountability measures.

    2. Perception is everything. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend” (“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence”)

    3. The news just played Adam Schiff(ty) saying that very thing, that we can’t let the memo out because it might make people lose confidence in those agencies. Horrors! So he is saying we should let these powerful agencies act badly but think well of them, rather than think badly of them (as they deserve) and try to make them behave. What fucking idiocy.

  2. This happened after the Snowden revelations, too. If releasing information about US government surveillance of US citizens is “enemy action,” that’s a pretty clear admission that the US government considers US citizens to be its enemies.

    1. Except Snowden didn’t just release information about US government surveillance of US citizens.

      He also release information about US government surveillance of foreign governments to said foreign governments.

      And while that release might have been embarrassing to the US government, such surveillance is the reason why every national government of the face of the earth has foreign intelligence agencies.

      1. So fedgov spies on foreign governments to justify its foreign spying apparatus. Got it.

        *barf*

  3. This woman is a fucking menace, one member of the evil and unholy trinity of Feinstein, Pelosi and Harris.

    1. She’s ugly too! Looks like a corpse, or a wax figure.

  4. Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are upset because a bunch of Russian-operated Twitter accounts may have jumped on this and attempted the magnify the hashtag campaign’s reach. The two of them have sent a letter to Twitter and Facebook pretty much demanding that they investigate the extent of the Russian involvement in the hashtag campaign.

    Trump bitches about fake news.

    Democrats demand social media stifle expression that is inconvenient for them.

    I get why Libertarians are so empathetic to the Dems.

    1. I hear Schiff staffers are hanging up on people calling in to say they’re not a Russian Bot.

  5. Trust Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to try to turn a political controversy into an excuse to censor social media. try to violate individual freedom.

    “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

  6. Outlaw twitter accounts in Russia. Problem solved.

    1. But how is Twitter supposed to make any money if it goes around banning entire countries full of paying customers?

      1. It wasn’t making money before, so who cares?

      2. We’ll find out once they ban the last US citizen.

  7. This is a bit of a sideshow to a sideshow. But one thing is clear: the Russians are in tune to Republican propaganda to the extent that they can all get on board with an exercise it sheer absurdity: “release the memo.” The memo Republicans wrote and that only they have the power to release? That one? Who are they directing this hashtag to exactly?

    1. I’m not clear on that either. Of course the Democrats are objecting to the release, but as far as I can tell it isn’t up to them.

    2. the Russians are in tune to Republican propaganda to the extent that they can all get on board with an exercise it sheer absurdity

      If only Trump didn’t boot a Russian spy ring out of the country within 2 weeks of them being found and before they were interrogated.

      Oh wait, he didn’t do that. Some OTHER guy who was in the White House did that.

      In 2010 I believe.

    3. First off, there’s no proof there’s even a memo. The memo has exactly the same evidence as the Russians hacking the election and stealing the election from Hillary Clinton, the rightful heir to the iron throne.

      It’s all political parties making up stuff to try to discredit the other.

      1. Mueller isn’t a political party though. So let’s settle on: (banana) Republicans are trying to discredit the United States justice system like the tinpot pigs they are.

        1. I don’t disagree. The Republicans who are caterwauling about the memo are full of shit until the memo is released to the public.

          1. I disagree. They’ll be full of shit even after the memo is released.

            The fact that this memo was known to exist since before the FISA renewal vote and wasn’t released clearly indicates that they’re composed of the same amount of shit as the dems who insist that the memo is a distraction from or a discrediting of the notion that Russian hackers influenced the election more than Comey’s FBI.

            1. I think that if the memo was released and it was exactly as the Republicans who’ve seen it described it, I believe that yes, it would be… Worse than Watergate.

              But after this whole… RussiaGate thing (somebody stop me!), I’m sorry, a bunch of politicians saying “trust me, it’s bad, but we can’t show you!” doesn’t work for me. And it shouldn’t work for anyone, especially journalists that keep telling me an apple is an apple.

              1. …a phenomenon henceforth known as AppleGate.

              2. Just for the record, Republicans want to release the memo. It’s the Democrats who do not.

    4. Tony is cool with the effort to deny free speech rights. Got it.

      Tony is automatically against a memo he’s never read because it doesn’t matter whether the memo is true or not – the other side wrote it so it must be evil and bad and awful. Tony, you don’t *have* to be such a fucking predictable tool.

  8. Tyant’s gonna Tryant. But it’s OK Reason, the people at your cocktail parties love her right?

  9. Dianne Feinstein is the Joseph McCarthy of 2018, just as the Chocolate Messiah was the Richard Nixon of 2008-2016.

    Everything truly does come full circle, and history truly does eventually repeat itself as farce.

    1. When do we get the present day version of Calvin Coolidge?

      1. “History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

      2. We’ve got “better than Coolidge” right now

  10. I got my first shortwave radio back in 1964 when I was 11. I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of propaganda since then.

    From 1964 until the end of the radio age of propaganda, the Soviets saw fit to jam incoming propaganda from the US and Western European countries. I lived in Europe, and listened to the English language service of VOA regularly. It was pretty much all about jazz and straight news with an occasional criticism of communism. However, the Soviets were too insecure to permit their subjects to access such information from the outside, so they jammed VOA broadcasts in Russian and other Eastern European languages. In contrast, the US and Western European nations were confident enough to allow Soviet Bloc radio propaganda to be broadcast freely.

    We’re in a new era of social media and other Internet propaganda. The Chinese are particularly famous for their Internet Wall, but many politically insecure governments have erected similar restrictions on Internet access.

    It is a shame that the US government has become so insecure of its popular support that it, too, is afraid of Russian propaganda via the Internet. Sad.

    1. Even when they seem unaware of how miniscule the amount of their “propaganda” was and how most of it wasn’t involving Trump at all.

      1. What was the figure, something like half the animated gif ads on facebook that everyone screams about were published after the election?

        1. It was some tiny fraction of 1% of spending.

    2. I had a shortwave when I was in the Navy in the 70s and 80s. When I was at sea I could pick up Radio Peace and Progress; it was a fine source of amusement.

    3. Russian bots on the internets told me to grab Diane Feinstein by the pussy. The internet is a scary place

    4. America is tolerant of outside media. The socialists that live in the USA are not.

  11. Being an old fart, I find all of the alarm over Russians to be unconvincing. They’ve been attempting to “subvert our democracy” for as long as I can remember. In my day Republicans used to caterwaul about it to try to justify a large defense budget. (I’m old but not quite old enough to remember the McCarthy thing.) Anyway it seems the Russians have been trying that for 50+ years and haven’t accomplished a hell of a lot. The rot in our democracy is something we achieved all by ourselves.

    1. The Russians have been doing this for 100 years, but otherwise you are correct.

      1. True. Actually they pulled a lot of shenanigans back in the days of the Czars too, although I don’t know if much of it was directed at us. Not that they were any worse than any of the major European powers.

        1. Them Russkis are sneaky bastards. All except for my dad, of course. And my three uncles, 4 aunts, 3 nephews … well, you get the idea

      2. And we don’t do it them at all. China’s don’t do it to either country.

        1. The “it” doesn’t work as well in authoritarian states.

    2. Hell, back in the 1940’s, the Russians had a spy serving as one of FDR’s top advisors during the Yalta Conference, and a spy serving as the top U.S negotiator in the international negotiations that led to the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. If that didn’t “subvert our democracy,” it’s hard to see how a few Twitter posts can.

    3. Russia and the Soviet Union have given both major parties the excuses they needed to limit our freedoms, grow the government, and get more control over US citizens. They did not defeat us, but they led our rulers to ruin things here themselves.

  12. Feinstein is not a sixth-grader, she’s studied the Constitution and she’s reasonably well educated. You don’t need to lecture her on obfuscation. She’s been in Congress since well before menopause hit.

    1. Most Congressmen are lawyers. It makes it easier to know how to usurp the Constitution.

      1. She was no prize even when should could reproduce.


  13. I’ve already mocked Republicans acting outraged about the Nunes memo because a bunch of them just voted to expand the feds’ power to snoop on American citizens for purposes unrelated to terrorism and espionage. On the very same day this hashtag campaign was launching, Trump signed that bill into law.

    Yeah, it’s pretty hard to take any of it particularly seriously even while it’s likely the largest and most dangerous issue to face the nation (and even the world) in the modern era. Our Federal Government is giving Janus a run for their money on who can be more two-faced.

  14. #ReleaseDianeFeinstein

    1. #FromTheResponsibilitiesOfPublicOffice

  15. Feinstein and Schiff need to put down the crack pipe.

  16. She looks and acts like a Nazi zombie.

  17. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.):
    “If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government…”

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/entries/…..cepalm.jpg

  18. Here’s hoping the Russians release the pee tape and the Trump money laundering evidence and complete the mind fuck of America.

  19. The Democrats are fucking up. He’s how you flip the script on these Republicans. Embrace Putin and Russia. Offer the great Russian leader “peace and cooperation” once the Dems return to power. Yes, “Release the Memo” because the FBI is “corrupt”, there is a “deep state” and it’s the reason we don’t have peace in this world. Hillary was corrupt. Yes, we know that now. Putin saved us from that calamity and we reward the Russian people. And then actually draft legislation to end the sanctions.

  20. I’ll admit to enjoying watching our government tear itself to pieces. If I would have known this was going to happen, I would have voted for Trump.

    1. And a tax cut to boot!

      1. Icing on the cake. With that and the stock market sky rocketing, I get to retire before I’m dead!

  21. And it was just six short years ago that Obama sniffed and smugly dismissed Romney’s statement to the effect that Russia was a global power to be concerned with by saying “Governor, the 1980s called. They want their foreign policy back.” Mr Wizard has been conspicuously (thank you!) silent on this whole series of events.

    1. And we wouldn’t want presidents to say wrong things or be smug.

  22. The best thing about Feinstein is her age; she can’t have that much longer to damage our world.

  23. Adle-pated and Senile, or just plain Stupid and Partisan?

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