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Good news: Feinstein faces censure

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Sure hope it happens. And Chuck Schumer shouldn’t get off scot-free, either.

One day after voting to elevate a divisive conservative judge to the federal appeals court in New Orleans, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was the president’s guest aboard Air Force One. She had been invited to survey the damage from the recent spate of Southern California wildfires.

The senator later remarked privately that she found her conversation with Bush aboard Air Force One “illuminating,” a source close to Feinstein told the Huffington Post.

Two weeks later, Feinstein was one of two Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee to vote to send Michael Mukasey’s nomination to be the new attorney general to the full Senate. Her support helped turn the tide in favor of a nomination that faced an uncertain future after Mukasey refused to say whether waterboarding was torture.

When the full Senate voted, Feinstein was one of only six Democrats to vote in favor of confirming Mukasey.

Now, a coalition of progressive Democrats upset with Feinstein’s controversial votes will ask the California Democratic Party to censure her at its executive board meeting this weekend, the Huffington Post has learned.

The move comes as Feinstein again finds herself under fire for saying Thursday that she now supports granting legal immunity to telecom companies that shared customer email and phone messages with the federal government as part of the warrantless surveillance program.

“Dianne Feinstein does not listen to the people of California,” said Rick Jacobs, president of the Courage Campaign, a progressive organization in California. “She supports George Bush’s agenda time after time.”

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 1:25 pm

Dianne Feinstein is a terrible Senator

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And Glenn Greenwald explains why:

Two months ago, Dianne Feinstein used her position on the Senate Intelligence Committee to enable passage of Bush’s FISA amendments, granting the President vast new warrantless surveillance powers.

Last month, Feinstein used her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to ensure confirmation of Bush’s highly controversial judicial nominee Leslie Southwick, by being the only Committee Democrat to vote for the nomination (The Politico: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein had emerged as a linchpin in the controversial nomination”).

This week, Feinstein used her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to enable confirmation of Bush’s Attorney General nominee by ensuring that the frightened Chuck Schumer didn’t have to stand alone (Fox News: “Schumer’s and Feinstein’s support for Mukasey virtually guarantees that a majority of the committee will recommend his confirmation”).

And now, Feinstein is using her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee — simultaneously — to single-handedly ensure fulfillment of Bush’s telecom amnesty demands, as her hometown newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, reports:

Feinstein backs legal immunity for telecom firms in wiretap cases Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that she favors legal immunity for telecommunications companies that allegedly shared millions of customers’ telephone and e-mail messages and records with the government, a position that could lead to the dismissal of numerous lawsuits pending in San Francisco.

In a statement at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering legislation to extend the Bush administration’s electronic surveillance program, Feinstein said the companies should not be “held hostage to costly litigation in what is essentially a complaint about administration activities” . . .

Feinstein, D-Calif., plays a pivotal role on the Judiciary Committee, which has a 10-9 Democratic majority. If she joins committee Republicans in voting next Thursday to protect telecommunications companies from lawsuits for their roles in the surveillance program, the proposal — a top priority of President Bush — will become part of legislation that reaches the Senate floor.

There is nothing worth critiquing in what Feinstein specifically said, since she just recited the administration’s standard pro-amnesty talking points, leading with its most deceitful ones. As but one example, Feinstein — echoing John Aschroft’s NYT Op-Ed from this week — said in her statement that “suits are unfair to the companies, which are ‘unable to defend themselves in court’ because the government has insisted that their activities be kept secret.” That is just false. As the Chronicle reported: “federal law allows such defendants to present secret evidence in private to the judge, a practice [EFF’s Cindy Cohn] said has been carried out for decades without any leaks.” Oddly (or not), the Chronicle article quotes Feinstein as saying that telecoms “should not be ‘held hostage to costly litigation in what is essentially a complaint about administration activities'” — the same exact phrase, verbatim, featured in Fred Hiatt’s Editorial two weeks ago urging telecom amnesty (Hiatt: “we do not believe that these companies should be held hostage to costly litigation in what is essentially a complaint about administration activities”).

I wrote about Feinstein at length a month ago here, including all the ways her administration-coddling and courting of intelligence officials benefits her defense-contractor-husband. But still, this recent behavior is really amazing.

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Written by Leisureguy

10 November 2007 at 9:39 am

Posted in Congress, Democrats

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