Archive for Dianne Feinstein

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?



"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


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





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.


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…


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


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


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.


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


"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.”

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



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.


Democrats "aren't giving up on their push to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act"


Proud to be a Dem time*:

Roll Call: They may not have the votes for passage, but Senate Democrats say they aren't giving up on their push to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Dianne Feinstein, whose bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act has 30 co-sponsors, says they won't give up, even if a repeal takes years to accomplish. Hey, look how long it took to dump Don't Ask Don't Tell.

But, as usual, The Boehner is a spoil sport:

In February, President Barack Obama said DOMA was unconstitutional and instructed the Justice Department not to defend it in court. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), following a party-line vote by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, took steps to defend the law in court cases


*The blog title quote comes from the Roll Call piece.