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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

“I feel I have an obligation to do everything I can to keep this country safe. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

That’s how Sen. Dianne Feinstein explained her view, which is winning her buckets of liberal criticism, as a defender of the NSA program.

Edward Snowden’s leaks? “An act of treason.”

She is 80 years old, and she is not pulling her punches.

Right on.

This is what politics should be about. She is not doing what most of her friends want her to do. She isn’t even playing around with some kind of middle ground — some yes, I’m for security, and yes, I’m for privacy, and of course there doesn’t have to be a tradeoff between the two.

Actually, there does.

I can’t really say I agree with Feinstein. How could I? She chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. She knows as much about this program — how it works, what we’ve learned, plots that have been thwarted — as anyone.

I don’t. I know there are tradeoffs. I know the threats are real. But as for evaluating the effectiveness of this program, how can anyone who doesn’t know the details do that? As for specific abuses of privacy, we don’t know about that, either, with the exception of the most egregious, which is of course Snowden’s abuse.

What I find so admirable about Feinstein’s stand is just how nonpolitical it is.

It isn’t based on a poll. A poll would never tell her to go so hard on this one. And why would she need a poll, anyway?

It has nothing to do with who has given her money in past campaigns. Liberals give her money. I’m sure she’s hearing from them. But so what?

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