Senator Dianne Feinstein just lied to me.
She’s my senator, and I’m positively predisposed to her. That means I like her. But how can you continue liking someone when they lie to you? If I were a woman in love, I’d be crying right now.
I called the office of Senator Feinstein in late June, complaining about the government surveillance recently revealed by Edward Snowden. I’m so upset about surveillance that I spent six years writing a novel about it, What Happens to Us, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DSSN5SU, which you can download for only $3.99 on Kindle or Nook.
Senator Feinstein’s call taker took down my address and said I’d be sent a letter on the subject, probably because so many people were complaining about it.
Then last Saturday, we learned from The Guardian that there’s a program called xkeyscore that collects virtually everything every American does on the Internet.
Wait a minute. In her letter, dated, July 11, 2013, Senator Feinstein wrote:
“…By law, the government cannot listen to an American’s telephone calls or read their emails without a court warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause….the programs that were recently disclosed have to do with information about phone calls–the kind of information that you might find on a telephone bill.”
In fact, the newly disclosed xkeycode program (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/31/nsa-top-secret-program-online-data) “allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.”
Senator Feinstein thinks she’s being cute. She would probably say that she wasn’t lying, because she was referring to “the programs that were recently disclosed,” not the xkeycode program. But hey, Senator Feinstein, you led me to believe that you were referring to all government surveillance programs. You said that “by law, the government cannot listen to an American’s telephone calls or read their emails without a court warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause.” When she gets that serious, sober look on her face, you want to believe her. I had no idea she was capable of sleazy tactics like this.
In the 1970s, a special investigative committee was formed in the Senate and headed by Senator Frank Church. They exposed the surveillance abuses of the previous generation and drafted legislation to try to ensure that they would never happen again. They were dark crimes committed by shady characters like J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn. They destroyed people’s lives.
In time, that committee transformed into the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, of which Senator Feinstein is chair. It is ironic and sad, then, that the Church committee has been turned into a committee that deceives Americans rather than protects them.