Archive for Dianne Feinstein

News, Views & Muse

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I was a bit worried that there might not be enough news to talk about with Congress going on a 5 1/2 week recess but, then again, it's not like they do anything when they're in session.

But the drama that unfolded yesterday as they all attempted to leave DC was the perfect snapshot to illustrate the comedy of errors that the 113th Congress is. Adding to the absurdity of it all was Boehner's contention that President Obama, against whom the Speaker is filing a lawsuit over his use of executive orders, should use his executive powers to do something to fix the "crisis" at the border that the House is too gridlocked to do itself!

As Steve Benen explains,

The new House Republican leadership team held a brief press conference yesterday following a closed-door caucus meeting, fielding a few questions, all of which related to the humanitarian crisis at the U.S./Mexico border. One exchange between a reporter and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) stood out for me.

QUESTION: Just a follow up on that: are you still committed to having a vote before you leave? And, given the concerns within your own conference about the costs of this border bill, can you pass something?

BOEHNER: Listen, I, I’d like to act. We’ve got a humanitarian crisis on the border, and that has to be dealt with. But the president clearly isn’t going to deal with it on his own, even though he has the authority to deal with it on his own.

Wait a second. Hold on. Boehner has spent months shouting, sometimes literally, about President Obama’s out-of-control power grabs. As the Speaker and his caucus see it, Obama no longer gives a darn about separation of powers, and he’s embraced a tyrannical model in which the president is king. Boehner is so outraged by Obama’s willingness to act unilaterally that the Speaker is literally going to take the White House to court.

Hypocrisy is the definition of today's Republican Party!

Liar is the word that comes to mind when I think of CIA director John Brennan. Back in March when Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein took to the floor to declare that the CIA had hacked into computers used by committee staffers, Brennan denied it vehemently, saying

"As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn't do that. I mean, that's that's that's just beyond the, the uh, the scope of reason."

Liar! Cue the New York Times.

An internal investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency has found that its officers improperly penetrated a computer network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to prepare its damning report on the C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program.

The report by the agency’s inspector general found that C.I.A. officers created a fake online identity to gain access on more than one occasion to computers used by members of the committee staff, and tried to cover their movements as they rooted around the system, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation’s findings.

A statement issued Thursday morning by a C.I.A. spokesman said that John O. Brennan, the agency’s director, had apologized to the two senior members of the intelligence committee and would set up an internal accountability board to review the issue. The statement said that the board, which will be led by former Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, could recommend “potential disciplinary measures” and “steps to address systemic issues.”

Brennan apologized. How nice! A resignation would be better.

But the saddest news of the day comes from the Middle East where Israel and Hamas are battling it out, and the Palestinians trapped in the Gaza strip are paying dearly with their lives. A 72-hour cease fire was agreed on yesterday, and the peace held for a couple of hours before rockets began flying again. Both sides blame the other.

Maysoon Zayid is a Palestinian American, a comedian and my friend, and she joined me on the show this morning to talk about the mess. Although we agreed that the horrific pictures emerging from the burned out buildings in Gaza are turning hearts and minds against the Israeli tactics, Maysoon suggested checking out Humanize Palestine instead, as every one of those approximately 1500 Gaza civilians who've been killed in recent days was a living, breathing person with families and friends who loved them. They're not just numbers, they're human beings. And the killing has got to stop.

Maysoon is doing a show Thursday, August 7 at the Comic Strip in NY, with the proceeds from this show being donated to the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund .

It's the Big Brown Comedy Hour is back featuring NYC's top Arab, Indian, Iranian, Pakistani and other "Brown" comedians. This is a VERY special spot! I will be filming my spot for a huge TV special AND *The proceeds from this show will be donated to the PCRF - Palestine Children's Relief Fund

This show features Dean Obeidallah, Maysoon Zayid, Ramy Youssef , Sabrina Jalees, Eman Morgan, Nader Uthman, Manvir Singh, Atheer Yacoub, Ashwin Bhandari, Feraz Shere, Tony Dabas and more.
All the Big Brown Comedy Hour's have sold out in the past, so don't wait to purchase your tickets! It will be a great night of Brown comedy.
Thursday, August 7, 8:00 PM at The Comic Strip Comedy Club
1568 2nd Ave at 82nd Street
New York, NY 10028
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/761447 or call 800-838-3006

 

After all the talk of war and bombs, I needed some music to soothe the savage beast. Good thing it's Friday, as we wrap up each week with a blast from the past for Flashback Friday! Today, we had a double-header.

I'd already planned on playing back the January 1997 interview I did with Patty Griffin. It was her first LA radio appearance, as she had just released her debut album, Living With Ghosts. The radio station was KSCA fm 101.9 in Los Angeles, and it would be on the air for only about a month longer, as Gene Autry was getting ready to sell it. I wanted to get Patty on the air before then, so she came in for an interview and performance while in LA to film a music video. What a treat that was!

Nicole Sandler and daughter Alison with Patty Griffin in 2008

Nicole Sandler and daughter Alison with Patty Griffin in 2008

Earlier this morning, I saw a piece on MSNBC about a developer's purchase of the Nashville building that houses the legendary recording RCA Studio A, and their plans to tear it down to build condos. I learned that Ben Folds has held the lease on the studio for about a decade, and thought today would be good time to also play Ben Folds Five's first Los Angeles radio appearance - at that same station with me in late 1995, just after the release of their self-titled debut album.

Ben Folds Five with Nicole Sandler at KSCA/Los Angeles c. 1996

Ben Folds Five with Nicole Sandler at KSCA/Los Angeles c. 1996

Here's the segment about the studio. I hope he's able to keep it open.

So, it was a double header for Flashback Friday today. That's ok, as there are lots of savage beasts to soothe these days. Hopefully, that'll hold us over for the weekend.

I'll be back to take on a new week on Monday, radio or not...

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Torture worse than waterboarding: Inside the Senate report on CIA interrogations

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Did you know that waterboarding was the "least worst" method of torture used on high-value detainees by the CIA under the Bush administration's watch?

My dear friend and one of the best investigative reporters out there, Jason Leopold, went on Nicole Sandler's radio show just before my weekly spot. He's a tough act to follow, especially when he reveals what the corporate "news" media won't touch with a ten-foot ad buy. Which is why you haven't heard about the "not legally authorized" torture "techniques" that will likely turn many American stomachs once details are finally (if ever) made public.

Now, because Jason has made such good and plentiful use of the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), he is being called a "FOIA terrorist" and has had to deal with considerable blowback from some very powerful people in very powerful places. IMHO, the reason they feel so "terrorized" is that they're scared to death of Jason's reporting and the truths he brings to light.

Here are a few excerpts from Jason's Al Jazeera America piece:

A still-classified report on the CIA's interrogation program established in the wake of 9/11 sparked a furious row last week between the agency and Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. Al Jazeera has learned from sources familiar with its contents that the committee's report alleges that at least one high-value detainee was subjected to torture techniques that went beyond those authorized by George W. Bush's Justice Department.

Two Senate staffers and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information they disclosed remains classified, told Al Jazeera that the committee's analysis of 6 million pages of classified records also found that some of the harsh measures authorized by the Department of Justice had been applied to at least one detainee before such legal authorization was received. They said the report suggests that the CIA knowingly misled the White House, Congress and the Justice Department about the intelligence value of detainee Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah when using his case to argue in favor of harsher interrogation techniques. [...]

Even before accessing the documents, committee staffers received crucial information in a briefing from former FBI agent Ali Soufan in early 2008, according to Al Jazeera’s sources. Soufan — who now runs a private security and intelligence consultancy — told the staffers that he had kept meticulous notes about the methods used by a psychologist under CIA contract to interrogate Abu Zubaydah at a CIA black site in Thailand after his capture in Pakistan in March of 2002. Soufan's account, the staffers say, shows that torture techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah even before some had been sanctioned as permissible by the Bush administration. [...]

Two Senate staffers told Al Jazeera that the Panetta documents question the Bush administration claims about the efficacy of Abu Zubaydah’s torture, and the staffers noted that some of the techniques to which he was subjected early in his captivity had not yet been authorized.

Jason explained that the previously undisclosed torture methods made waterboarding seem like the least ghastly practice by comparison... and perhaps that's why the public focus was (intentionally) on waterboarding. See the shiny, inhumane keys? Now move along.

You can hear Jason talk about these revelations in his own words here (podcast). And please read his entire Al Jazeera post here. Where you will not read, hear, or see any references to Jason Leopold's reporting is in the corporate "mainstream" media. Maybe we can all use our social media skills to force the press into covering his work. Wouldn't that be novel?

torture

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"Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?"

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Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, Senator Feinstein Hypocrisy Edition, because our voices matter:

Re "CIA denies Senate spying claim," March 12

Anyone who fails to appreciate the supreme irony of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) righteous indignation over the CIA's alleged spying on and undermining of the Senate Intelligence Committee (of which Feinstein is chair) has not been paying attention.

For years, she has been one of the intelligence community's most steadfast champions, deflecting criticism of the surveillance state, attacking whistle-blowers and justifying nearly every abuse. Her tenure at the spy community's ultimate oversight body, tasked with safeguarding the public interest, has seen that institution perform as something between a star chamber and a cheerleading squad.

Only when the monster she helped create might have turned against her does she seem to remember something called the Constitution. Is it any wonder that Congress is held in utter contempt by the people?

Mark McCormick

Los Angeles

***

In January, a Times news article described Feinstein as "a key defender of the National Security Agency's data tracking program." Now, just two months later, Feinstein is riled up about the national security apparatus, but only because she believes it turned a jaundiced eye on Senate staffers.

Well, Senator Feinstein, how does it feel?

Frankly, I believe she and her supporters should be ashamed of her hypocrisy. Of course, this includes The Times, which endorsed Feinstein in 2012, stating clearly that "endorsing her for another term is an easy call."

Paul Marsden

Garden Grove

***

Feinstein's committee found documents showing that President Bush's torture program was far more barbaric than previously revealed and far less effective than claimed. This controversy is really about the CIA hiding potential crimes from Feinstein's committee.

CIA Director John Brennan endorsed torture and rendition under Bush. As director, he has kept the lid on the truth. He should be fired.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report needs to be declassified, and if the U.S. won't pursue possible war criminals, the International Criminal Court should.

But under Bush, the U.S. refused to be under the court's jurisdiction. The Obama administration has since renewed a relationship with the court, but Senate ratification is needed for the ICC to do what no one in this country has the stomach to do.

It is the president's job to ask the Senate for ratification. Shame on us all if he does not.

Richard Green

San Clemente

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Video- Dianne Feinstein: Benghazi Hearing Was Really About Discrediting Hillary Clinton

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">Via.

duh

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Saudi national ‘not a suspect’ in Boston bombings

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Earlier today, Paddy posted a video of a heckler interrupting the Boston bombing Presser with an accusation of a false flag staged attack, directly from the Alex Jones school of conspiracy theories.

As Nicole Sandler and I discussed on her radio show today, there has been way too much speculation about the tragedy-- some of it irrational, much of it erroneous, some of it thoughtful. What has been appalling is the default position of those who automatically blame any attack on anyone who they conclude is a "Muslim terrorist." Never mind the white American terrorists who killed and/or threatened abortion providers or the Timothy McVeighs in this country.

Josh Rogin and Senator Dianne Feinstein are doing what they can to stop some of that conclusion-jumping.

Via Josh Rogin:

The Saudi national injured in the Boston Marathon bombings Monday is "not a suspect," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told The Cable Tuesday.

"As far as I know, he is not a suspect," Feinstein said Tuesday afternoon. She declined to specify how she knew but said she had been briefed Monday night by Sean Joyce, the No. 2 official at the FBI. Feinstein said her information about the Saudi national was not dispositive because the investigation was still ongoing. [...]

Feinstein said she didn't know yet if the attack was from a foreign or domestic source.

"It's hard to tell," she said. "I think the device will determine a lot of that."

Investigators have already searched the home of the 22-year old Saudi student, who was injured during the bombings and remains in the care of a local hospital. Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. have also not been informed that the student is either a suspect or a person of interest.

Place blame after the facts come out, not before. Please and thank you.

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VIDEO: Lindsey Graham called out by Milwaukee police chief during Senate hearing on assault weapons ban

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Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn wouldn't let Lindsey Graham get away with pestering him repeatedly with NRA talking points at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposed assault weapons ban.

Lindsey Graham:

...We absolutely do nothing to enforce the laws on the books…

Flynn:

Just for the record, from my point of view, the point of a background check…

Graham:

How many cases have you made? How many cases have you made?

Flynn:

It doesn’t matter, it’s a paper thing. I want to stop 76,000 people from getting guns illegally. That’s what a background check does. If you think we’re going to do paperwork prosecutions, you’re wrong. 

Feinstein found it necessary to scold Graham who then briefly brown-nosed the chief. But he continued to badger Flynn, who had no problem interrupting L'il Linds with his own points.

Graham:

How many cases have you made for somebody violating the background checks?

Flynn:

"We don’t make those cases. We have priorities. We make gun cases. We make 2,000 gun cases a year, senator, that’s our priority. We’re not in a paper chase. We’re trying to prevent the wrong people from buying guns. That’s why we do background checks. If you think I’m going to do a paper chase, then you think I’m going to misuse my resources."

"We don't chase paper. We chase armed criminals."

Think Progress has more, including:

Graham said that limited resources for police departments is a reason to bolster gun ownership, arguing that citizens would have to take the law in their own hands and protect themselves. “What this police chief is facing, is what every police chief is facing, less money so you may have to defend yourself,” he explained.

Hmm, who does that remind you of? Ah, got it, this guy: Sheriff’s pro-gun radio ads to be paid by taxpayers. “This has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with self-promotion.”

sheriff guns protect yourself

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VIDEO-- Dianne Feinstein: I will have the chance to bring assault weapons ban up for vote. "The NRA is venal."

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diamondgun

Senator Dianne Feinstein on CNN's "State of the Union":

"This has always been an uphill fight. This has never been easy. This is the hardest of the hard. Now, will it only be assault weapons? No, most likely. There will be a package put together. If assault weapons is left out of the package ... I've been assured by the majority leader I'll be able to do it as an amendment on the floor, which is the way I did it in 1993."

"We do have support, don't mistake it."

"I concede [it's a very tough road] because the NRA is venal. They come after you. They put together large amounts of money to defeat you. They did this in '93 and they intend to continue it."

Then Candy Crowley actually questioned Feinstein on whether or not the NRA is venal. After which she defended children using guns. Come on, Candy, seriously?

Please watch the entire video.

So now, as Feinstein-- who happens to be my senator-- said, she has Harry Reid's word (uh huh) that even if the assault weapons ban doesn't end up in the gun legislation, she will still get to bring it up an amendment:

(Reuters) - The senator leading the charge to revive a assault weapons ban conceded on Sunday, just days before hearings on gun control open, that winning Senate passage will be tough but said she has been assured she will have the chance to bring it up for a vote.

Sadly, we can't be exactly sure what "assured" means coming from Harry Reid these days.

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