Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) has been an outspoken opponent of CIA torture. However, she hasn’t ruled out confirming Trump’s new CIA pick.
As the former chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Feinstein played a key role in the comprehensive investigation into the George W. Bush administration’s torture of detainees in secret “black site” prisons around the world. The 6,700-page report analyzed abuses and routine violations of international law at the hands of the CIA between 2001 and 2009, and roundly criticized CIA torture as antithetical to democratic values.
“[E]xisting U.S. law and treaty obligations should have prevented many of the abuses and mistakes made during this program,” Feinstein wrote in the report’s executive summary. “[I]t is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured. I also believe that the conditions of confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading. I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible.”
Given Feinstein’s assertion of CIA torture evidence as “overwhelming and incontrovertible,” the next logical conclusion would be that she would fiercely oppose President Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel — the current deputy director of the agency — as its new director. During the George W. Bush administration, Haspel was one of the CIA’s top agents overseeing its “enhanced interrogation” (re: torture) programs, and supervised a “black site” (re: torture prison) in Thailand. More than 90 tapes of CIA torture techniques recorded at the site were destroyed on Haspel’s orders. She was never convicted of any charges despite a Department of Justice investigation.
However, Feinstein appears to be lukewarm in her support of Haspel’s confirmation, citing “talks & dinners” she had with the deputy director of the CIA, according to the Daily Beast’s Andrew Desiderio.
FEINSTEIN says she is not yet a “no” on Haspel & wants to wait for confirmation hearings. Says she knows Haspel well and has had talks & dinners with her.
— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) March 13, 2018
Dianne Feinstein, who will 85 years old this June, is up for re-election to a fifth term in the US Senate. Due to California’s “jungle primary” system, she and another Democrat — perhaps California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon — will likely both be on the ballot in November.
Logan Espinoza is a freelance contributor specializing in economic issues. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and daughter. Contact him at logan DOT espinoza AT yahoo DOT com.