From The Hill:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) vote to move the stalled nomination of Judge Leslie Southwick this summer made Republicans more willing to work with her on another important issue: an anti-gang bill that she had worked on for over a decade.
Before Feinstein surprised her fellow Democrats and liberal advocacy groups by casting the key vote in committee for Southwick in August, it did not appear the conservative nominee would reach the Senate floor.
DiFi is just full of surprises lately, none of them good.
Original DVD cover.
The good will that Feinstein fostered with Republicans by voting for Southwick and the legislative accomplishments that sprang from it may help explain Feinstein’s vote Tuesday for attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey despite outspoken opposition from other Democrats.
From the Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday night to confirm the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general, despite often emotional opposition from Democrats who said his refusal to disavow a controversial interrogation method made him an unsuitable leader for the U.S. Justice Department.
The vote was 53 to 40, with six Democrats — including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California — and one independent supporting the nominee.
The late-night vote [thank you, Harry Reid] came after a procession of Democrats took to the Senate floor to denounce Mukasey — and the Bush administration — as failing to take a firm stand against the use of torture in questioning terrorism suspects.
Mukasey in particular has come under fire for refusing to say whether he believed that waterboarding — an interrogation technique simulating drowning that dates to the Spanish Inquisition — was unlawful.
Democrats chided the nominee Thursday night for refusing to acknowledge what they said was an obvious and long-standing truth, and they said his reticence raised questions about whether he would act as an independent check on President Bush.
“We need an attorney general to tell this king that he is wrong and that the rule of law will apply,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Harkin said Mukasey “may run a good department” if confirmed but expressed doubt that Mukasey would stand up to Bush.
Ultimately, [Charles] Schumer and Feinstein gave Mukasey the votes needed to move his nomination from the committee to the Senate floor.
Feinstein said Thursday night that Mukasey was being treated unfairly and that her fellow Democrats should focus more on shoring up the embattled Justice Department than “pounding our chests” against torture. She noted that the White House indicated it would not nominate another candidate if the Senate rejected Mukasey.
“Some people, I think, want to keep the issue [of torture] alive rather than solve the problem. I am not one of those people,” Feinstein said. “This is the only chance that is going to be offered to put new leadership in the Department of Justice. If you believe it is in disarray, there is only one action to take.”
That’s right, DiFi, how dare we keep the issue of torture alive! Much more important for the Justice Department to look spiffy.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
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.”
She endorsed a recent statement by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that companies assured by top administration officials that the surveillance program was legal “should not be dragged through the courts for their help with national security.”
Why are corporations so special? I want to be able to eavesdrop on whomever I want, too! To start, I want to listen to Dianne’s phonecalls and read her email.
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.
Opponents of immunity for the telecommunications companies said they would try to persuade Feinstein to change her mind.
“Hopefully, since the case is in her own backyard, she won’t want to foreclose people’s opportunity to have their day in court,” said Caroline Frederickson, lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Bush acknowledged in December 2005 that he had ordered the agency after the 2001 terrorist attacks to wiretap phones and read e-mails of communications between Americans and alleged foreign terrorists without the court warrants required by a 1978 federal law.
Feinstein, in her statement Thursday, said the 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.
[Cindy] Cohn [legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a lawyer for AT&T customers in a surveillance case before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco] disputed Feinstein’s assertion that the companies could not defend themselves in the lawsuits. She said federal law allows such defendants to present secret evidence in private to the judge, a practice she said has been carried out for decades without any leaks.
Watch out, Joe Lieberman, there’s a new backstabber in town. Could a new California for Feinstein party be far off?