Dianne Feinstein In No Position to Grandstand over CIA Torture Report

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) raised fire and brimstone in her rebuke of the CIA on the Senate floor after the CIA torture report summary was released to the public. As compelling as her words may have been, however, her vocal condemnation of the use of torture serves only to distract from the fact that she has no interest in actually preventing any U.S. government agency from using such techniques in the future.

In an op-ed piece for the New York Post, William McGurn raises an excellent point that is not likely to catch the attention of the mainstream media or members of Congress. To set up the point of his article, he mentioned a recent appearance by independent U.S. Senator Angus King (Maine) on CNN to discuss the torture report. He was asked, “Why are we reopening this old wound that we’ve already litigated and debated?”

It is the type of question one would expect from the mainstream media because there is this misconception that the use of torture has actually been discussed and debated. We have debated right and wrong to some degree. We have debated how effective it is at garnering information. However, one thing the media is not discussing can be taken from King’s answer.

“Because the only thing that stands between us and doing this again is an executive order that Barack Obama issued in 2009. The next president could change it or rescind it or get rid of it.” – U.S. Senator Angus King

McGurn credited King for making a great point, but pointed out that it didn’t come across quite the way it could have and didn’t go far enough.

King isn’t asking the question he should and that is, why did Democrats in Congress, including Dianne Feinstein, not pass a law in 2009 (when they had the best opportunity to do so) that outlawed waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the CIA during the Bush administration? Why did they leave it up to an executive order that could be undone by a future administration?

Democrats did propose a bill when Bush was in office that would have limited CIA interrogation methods to techniques found in the Army Field Manual. The bill was obviously vetoed by the president. So, why did they not push a similar bill when Barack Obama, who campaigned against the use of torture, took office?

“Members of Congress could easily have set into law their own guidelines if they wished, McGurn writes. “Of course, that would put them on the record and open them to the judgment of the American people.”

“Instead, Sen. Feinstein & Co. chose to launch a probe that included no Republicans and adopted Rolling Stone standards of investigation: Not once did they speak to any of the people actually accused of the crimes they say were committed.

And then Feinstein drops this on the public on her way out the door as chairwoman on the Intelligence Committee, complete with a promise, six years after President Obama’s executive order, she plans to offer legislation — just in time for a new GOP Congress in which its passage will be all but impossible.” – William McGurn

The truth is, Feinstein has no intention of doing anything meaningful to ensure that this dark chapter in our nation’s history is never repeated again. It was her moment to sit on top of her high horse. Let’s not forget, though, that this is the same senator who supported the Patriot Act, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, NSA spying programs and data collection, and secret intelligence proceedings.

Feinstein deserves part of the blame, not a chance to grandstand.

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Image: U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein