One of Dianne Feinstein’s Greatest Legacies: Documenting CIA’s Torture

Over forty years ago, I voted to make Dianne Feinstein a Senator. Multiple news outlets report that she has passed away, a Senator to the end.

I was only her constituent for a matter of months before I left the state. But her influence on US policy — good and bad — has been national in scope.

Amid what are sure to be many tributes, one part of her legacy deserves close focus: the SSCI Torture Report.

The US has still not fully atoned for the crimes it committed as part of an effort to gin up war on terror scares. It was just over a month ago, after all, that a judge threw out the post-torture confession of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. It was just days ago that a different judge ruled Ramzi bin al-Shibh incompetent to stand trial. We’re still discovering that even after the torture, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was deprived of legal counsel.

America’s crimes of torture remain very much unresolved, much less punished.

Dianne Feinstein wasn’t always right. But she used her tenure as SSCI Chair to ensure there was a document of the torture done in our name. That legacy deserves respect.

130 replies
    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Yes. Thank you. When you have watched the long deterioration of a giant, it can be hard to recall what made them a giant in the first place.

      I had trouble forgiving Feinstein after the Kavanaugh hearing. I needed this reminder then, and we all need it now.

  1. Theodora30 says:

    Now that she has died I hope the media covers her in more depth. As you say “she wasn’t always right” — as if anyone is — but she did a lot of very important things. Investigating the CIA torture programis one of her most important but it’s not the only one. She also championed the assault weapons ban which passed under Clinton but was allowed to expire by Bush— the media’s idea of a good Republican. One of the most impressive things was her leadership of San Francisco after the murder of Harvey Milk — whom she had found shot and tried to revive. She was a strong leader of San Francisco during the AIDS crisis when Reagan couldn’t care less.
    Feinstein was a trailblazer who didn’t let her defeats stop her.

    • RitaRita says:

      Thanks. I was also going to mention the assault weapon ban. Her announcement of the deaths of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk is an enduring memory.

    • jdmckay8 says:

      I was in my early 20’s when Milk was murdered. I lived across the bay from SF.

      Feinstein seemed to come out of nowhere to keep that thing from spinning out of control. I always remembered that, even in these recent months of sharp decline. I always thought she gave more than she received. I’m glad she finished, still a Senator. She was a supremely decent human being.

      I’m surprised how deeply this affected me this morning. Can’t remember another public official passing that cut so deep. RIP Sen. Feinstein.

      • Thomas_H says:

        I’ll never forget hearing her announce the murders of Milk and Moscone. At the time the murders occurred, I was attending a noon concert on lower Sproul Plaza. Talking Heads. David Byrne made the announcement from the stage and then the band plunged into Psycho Killer! Two weeks before I was at another free show there to see the B52s. News of the mass murder at Jonestown broke while that concert was underway.

          • Thomas_H says:

            Indeed! The events leading up to both Jonestown and the Milk-Moscone murders were cathartic. The SF board of supervisors election was changed from an at-large/city wide election to individual districts having their own elected representatives. This roiled the status quo, ending the moderate to conservative dominance on the SFBoS. Jim Jones and the people’s temple were part of the turmoil, and Dan White lost his seat to Harvey Milk as a result as well.

        • FunnyDiva says:

          That was one hell of a time.
          I was just a kid and didn’t understand everything about either of those events, but it was clear they were both tragic and important!

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Of her three marriages, one was to a neurosurgeon, another to an investment banker. Both died while they were married to her; both professions tend to make rather more than the average federal politician.

    • -mamake- says:

      I was in my twenties living an hour or so outside of Bay Area during that time. My mother and other family lived and worked in the city – a very psychologically and spiritually turbulent time for many of us — to see ‘peace, love and understanding crash and burn so tragically. In my family, we appreciated Feinstein for her strength that fall.

      Highly recommend David Talbot’s book of that time, Season of the Witch (added spaces – hope that works):
      https :// www. simonandschuster. com/books/Season-of-the-Witch/David-Talbot/9781439108246

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree, David Talbot is a captivating and accurate storyteller, who knows that era of California and San Francisco politics.

  2. BobBobCon says:

    The Report with Adam Driver is a surprisingly good movie. It obviously condensed a lot and rearranged some facts to turn out a movie-length adaptation — people like Haspel are never explicity IDed. But I think it does a good job of showing how Feinstein kept the research and writing process alive through the years.

    • Fancy Chicken says:

      The investigator Driver plays is Daniel Jones. He is a personal hero of mine. He also authored the report to the Senate on Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s culpability. He has my heart for standing by the assertion that the Alpha Bank communication with a Trump Org email address was not random or noise.

      I hope as well that the public is reminded of Feinstein’s commitment to holding our country accountable for the inexcusable torture it committed in the Rumsfeldian post 9/11 insanity.

      • BobBobCon says:

        One of the things I think the movie does well is conveying how easy it would have been for Jones and Feinstein to just quit at multiple points, as others did along the way. A lot of the obstacles weren’t firestorms, just grinding, chronic frustrations. That they stuck with it is a pretty impressive.

  3. bgThenNow says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I don’t suppose any replacement named will come from the House. Newsome has said he will appoint a black woman. I look forward to whomever he names. California needs representation.

    • rosalind says:

      Newsom has vowed – correctly – to name a placeholder Senator to allow California voters to actually elect their next Senator, something they were robbed of when Kamala Harris resigned to become V.P.

      • Clare Kelly says:

        I was very disappointed, yet I did not feel “robbed”.

        California’s Latino population was also underrepresented.

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        Not sure I understand your comment — the voters did get the chance to vote for and elect Senator Padilla after he was appointed.

    • punaise says:

      Barbara Lee (my rep) is an obvious choice although now that she is a declared candidate in 2024 that muddy the waters. Karen Bass is unlikely to give up the mayoral post in Los Angeles.

      • jdmckay8 says:

        I’ve held both of those ladies in high regard, for a long time. I too lived in Lee’s district, for 15 years through 2005. I was really busy in those years, but had a few interactions with her office during that time. Always someone answered the phone, and was present. A few times followup was implied, and someone always got back with me.

        Her office was the best I’ve experienced from a Congressional Rep, ever.

        She always came across as… wise. Maybe that’s why she gets so little attention. /s

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I would prefer Newsom appoint someone Not running for her seat. That would skew a decision voters should make. There are good choices, both for interim Senator and among candidates vying to be elected in her stead. California would be well represented.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The question assumes a high school civics version of how politicians operate. If that’s their thinking, they would know it now. They should refuse the temporary appointment and run in the primaries.

            • bmaz says:

              Or, you know, pick the best person available. I like Barbara Lee and Schiff too. But Katie Porter strikes me as better than either one, and it may not be close.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Or, you know, let candidates with that ambition run in the primary and general elections and find out what the voters want. As an aside, I happen to agree with your assessment of those three candidates.

                  • Rugger_9 says:

                    Or, perhaps someone who is politically experienced but semi-retired. Willie Brown for the male option, and perhaps Jackie Speier for a female one. Even though Barbara Lee ‘checks the boxes’ giving her incumbency would be putting a finger on the scale in 2024.

                    • Molly Pitcher says:

                      Jackie Speier is an EXCELLENT idea. She just registered to run for San Mateo Supervisor, in her retirement. But having just left Washington herself, she would easily step into this seat for the remaining time.

                      But Newsom did say he would appoint a black woman.

                  • Rugger_9 says:

                    Connie (not Condi) Rice would be a good choice as well, with one nit to pick. She’ll need someone who can foresee McConnell’s games and stop them, which is why I recommended Brown.

              • HanTran says:

                Katie Porter is great … not sure she could be as effective in the Senate but would love to see her try.

                [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Salting your existing name with a number might be an easy approach. Thanks. /~Rayne]

              • Molly Pitcher says:

                Barbara Lee is 77, Adam Schiff is 63 and Katie Porter is 49. While it is time for a black woman from California to represent the state, I can not in good conscience vote for a 77 year old.

                This seat needs to be filled by a woman.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I think your question combines two different things. Any interim appointee should do a good job. Otherwise, Newsom and the interim appointee will have fucked up.

            Using the interim appointment as leverage with voters in the primary and general elections is an expression of a politician’s ambition and gamesmanship, not the voters’ will. That’s precisely what I’m arguing Newsom should avoid. He argues the same thing.

          • jdmckay8 says:

            With that in mind, maybe Jerry Brown has one more go-around in him. Even amongst all the other old fogies in the Senate, he’d be a breath of fresh air for a minute..

            I thought for a long time he was ahead of his time in politics. For one thing, he was honest. :)

            All those years he did his radio program from his building in Alameda, that show was one of the best listening on things that mattered.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Not likely at all since the seat comes up on the six-year cycle in 2024 and FWIW I think Newsom gets more political traction as governor than he would as a Senator.

      The other piece (which is why I suggested Brown or Speier above) is to know how to thwart the inevitable brinksmanship from McConnell about judges. Willie Brown managed to become Speaker of the Assembly and to create the ‘Speaker Emeritus’ when the GOP had the majority, so if anyone knows how to finagle McConnell, he would.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Newsom is probably running for POTUS, as a dark horse in 2024 (if something happens to Biden) or in 2028. If a Senate seat comes open before 2026 when the term limit kicks in he’ll go for that.

        • bmaz says:

          Either would be more than fine. But Newsom promised only a black woman would be eligible. Stupidly to my eye. Boxer would be almost a perfect caretaker. She knows the lay of the land and would command more instant respect than any other potential appointee. But Newsom ruled that out. Willie Brown…..Oh, no, a light year past his sell by date.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            Willie also has Retinitis Pigmentosa and is nearly completely blind. You need to be able to see the sharks coming in Congress

            • timbozone says:

              Appoint Lee to the Senate position THEN fill her House seat with Willie Brown. Heck, Willie is up for being Speaker of the House I bet! I mean, if you want to see McCarthy howl this is the move to make! ;D

  4. P’villain says:

    Gentle correction; you and I helped put Dianne Feinstein in the Senate more than three, not four, decades ago.

    Before that, I had a close-up view of her tenure as SF Mayor, a job she assumed in the crucible of violent tragedy in 1978. I always admired her, even when she disappointed me on policy matters. She is an icon who will long be remembered. RIP.

  5. Theodora30 says:

    Chuck Schumer just gave an emotional tribute to Feinstein and now Mitch is doing the same! They both got choked up.

  6. Former AFPD says:

    RIP Senator Feinstein. Her daughter was a respected judge in the San Francisco Superior Court for many years. Senator Feinstein supported many trailblazing women and men, lawyers and judges, in San Francisco, and their work has been of great benefit to the citizens of SF. I am her constituent and have been for many decades. However, Senator Feinstein was a mixed bag. My clients spent many more years in prison as a result of draconian federal sentencing laws which she championed. I was in law school in 1978 when Jonestown and the murders in City Hall happened. Her political career was filled with extremely difficult challenges, the results of which I often did not agree. She was a toughie, though. Her memory is a blessing.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I have conflicting emotions too. Your point as to sentencing is spot on. For me, it is her stubborn, and bogus, support of blue slips in SJC. Even though it is hagiography DiFi day, I cannot totally. She, along with Leahy and Durbin of course, is one of the critical and substantial reasons SJC still maintains the asinine blue slip process. And that has really benefitted Leo, Fed Soc and turning too many federal judgeships into right wing wasteland.

      • Former AFPD says:

        Yeah bmaz, we agree. She loved the death penalty too. She fully embraced and championed the CCA 1994, a horrendous piece of legislation that haunted federal capital habeas litigation for years. I have a professional and personal familiarity with the 1978 events in San Francisco – Jonestown and the murders of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk. I have a begrudging respect for Senator Feinstein given what she endured and how she found her way forward as a woman. It was very difficult. I have also dealt with the fallout of her decisions on a local and national level. No one is perfect. I wish she had retired and enjoyed the fruits of her labors away from the stress of the Senate.

        • bmaz says:

          Yep, exactly. I bit my tongue a bit at first, because it seemed right, at first anyway. Give her credit, she leaves with an extremely full body of work. But it is an uneven body

          • punaise says:

            As a constituent for her entire Senate tenure I’ve long railed in these parts and elseweb about DiFi, Inc., but I’m willing to set that aside today in recognition of her positive accomplishments, starting with holding the city together in the immediate aftermath of the City Hall killings and Jonestown.

            Unfortunately she clung to power far too long. Snarky me might have said “well, that’s one way to retire”, but he’s been given a time out.

        • Peterr says:

          Let me join the club.

          As a constituent of hers, back in the day, I was alternately pleased to have her as one of my senators when compared with the GOP alternatives and frustrated by her general willingness to embody the Villager mentality in DC, where the social niceties take precedence over policy

          As an advocate for progressive causes, I found DifFi to be similarly both frustrating and admirable. She worked to advance various causes from her position of privilege, from inside of the corridors of power, and was frequently upset with the DFHs for being confrontational in their advocacy.

          Politico captured her well in the opening of their piece on DiFi’s passing:

          James Haas was a San Francisco land use attorney, and a gay man who was not yet out in 1970, when he became an informal advisor to Dianne Feinstein.

          During Feinstein’s first term in office as a member of the Board of Supervisors, the city’s legislative body, Haas organized a group of professionals, dubbed “The Think Tank,” to develop policy on matters from traffic flows to taxes.

          He also authored the city’s most abiding epigram about Feinstein’s relationship to the gay community:

          “Dianne Feinstein doesn’t care who you sleep with,” he famously quipped, “as long as you’re in bed by 11 o’clock.”

          • P’villain says:

            Land use was another of her mixed bags. A titan on protection of federal lands, she oversaw the manhattanization of San Francisco’s skyline as mayor, a policy whose downsides are being newly felt as the Financial District offices stay empty post-Covid.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Gray Brechin’s, Imperial San Francisco, has a lot to say about SFO’s land use policies, and about the narrow range of interests that prevail. It is, true, though, that SFO is geographically small for such a “big” city. But like LA, the latifundia from which it draws its resources, are considerable.

  7. Hoping4better_times says:

    A woman of Valor, who can find? Her price is far above Rubies. (from Eshet Chayil prayer).
    This phrase can be said of Dianne Feinstein in her long distinguished career as a public servant and especially when she was tested by the 1978 murders of George Moscone, the mayor of San Francisco and Harvey Milk, the first gay member of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. She was grace under fire then. As a Californian, I am grateful for her long service to our city, our state and our country. Her memory is a blessing.

  8. Naomi Schiff says:

    For the last decade, I occasionally emailed Senator Feinstein (for whom I voted, somewhat ambivalently) politely urging her not to run, then later urging her to step down, explaining that I could feel myself slowing, though far younger than she was. A reminder: experience is no substitute for passing on the torch before old age or infirmity incapacitates us! Gerontocracy is a threat.

  9. hcgorman says:

    Thanks for the reminder of her role in the torture report. Such important work. I have been irritated with her of late (and several times in-between) but it is good to remember that important work– and the shameful part of our history that she helped to bring to light– but which unfortunately has never been fully addressed in any meaningful way.

    • Honeybee says:

      Wondering if her views on Section 702 and privacy will be recalled as it comes up again in Congress at end of this year. I think it was she who opined some years back: “In United States v. Mohamud, the Ninth Circuit ruled that incidental collection of an American’s communication does not affect the constitutionality of Section 702. However, the court declined to consider whether subsequent searches of the content of Americans’ communications was also constitutional. My belief is that it is not.”

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thanks, Marcy. I would add to her credit Ms. Feinstein’s passionate advocacy for gun control and for the LGBTQ community. Something we need more of today. So far this year, for example, there have been over 500 mass shootings in the USA, with three months more to go in the year.

  11. Molly Pitcher says:

    As a constituent I echo all that has been said about the dedicated service and at times frustrating positions of Senator Feinstein. She was a steady hand through a rough period in the Bay Area. She was elected to the senate when it was much more conservative in California government than it is now, and that accounts for the frustration with some of her persistent positions.

    That said, considering we elected Reagan and Pete Wilson around this time, we could have done much worse.

    I am glad that Newsom has committed to a temporary place holder in her seat, so as to not unduly influence the election. I will hold my personal preference for whom I want to see elected for another day.

    Thank you for your service to the country Senator.

    • jdmckay8 says:

      considering we elected Reagan and Pete Wilson around this time, we could have done much worse.

      Arrrgh!!! (Don’t forget the dishonorable Gray Davis)

        • -mamake- says:

          Agree 100% – had some indirect associations w/ him during my time working at a non-profit in Sacramento. He and all of us in CA got a very raw deal from the Enron/Texas manipulation of energy prices. Bad times.

      • rosalind says:

        am now flashing back to riding the tram up to the new Getty Museum with a friend no longer living in California, and explaining that the Republicans were planning to run Swarzenegger during the Gray Davis recall election, even though he had not yet announced, and i bet he would win. friend was in complete disbelief. he did pay up.

      • RitaRita says:

        The recall of Gov. Gray Davis and the campaign against CJ Rose Bird were two of the most despicable political dirty tricks by California Republicans. The recall of Gray Davis was, arguably, a dress rehearsal for the hanging chad/Brooks Brothers riot debacle that propelled GWB into power and the attempted coup by Trump. Although the Gray Davis recall campaign was legal, it was marred by propaganda designed to deceive voters and, IIRC, it was done at a time when the turnout was low. Davis had done nothing to merit recall. The economy wasn’t good. But that couldn’t be laid off on Davis. Voters recalled him because Schwartznegger was a celebrity.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          There was also manipulation of the power grid (hence the nickname of ‘Grayout’) which might have been tied to Enron IIRC. Something about grannies.

          • Rugger_9 says:

            It’s worth mentioning because gas prices always seem to spike when the oil companies want to take Ds down a peg.

          • RitaRita says:

            Yes. The voters blamed Gary Davis. But they had just voted him into office. There was nothing new that would have justified recall.

            And now California’s solution to wildfires is to turn off the power during high wind events. Democrats and Republicans share the blame for shortsightedness.

            • Rugger_9 says:

              Agreed there wasn’t a justification for recall (I voted against it and Ahnold), and it was a relatively early example of the RWNM Wurlitzer taking down someone.

              As for Schwarzenegger, does anyone really believe his story about ‘falling in’?

              • Rugger_9 says:

                The sad thing is that Arnold was significantly more sane than the rest of the GOP pack at the time, so we got off relatively easy in CA.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Arnold can present well to the right audience at the right time. And he sometimes has the right policies and personality for the times. But he was always intensely competitive, ambitious, and planful in pursuing his goals. So, no, I don’t credit a story where his role is passive.

      • jdmckay8 says:

        Surprised to see all the kind words for Davis.

        My recollection (well documented in SF Chronicle then): Almost all Davis’ time went for fund raising activities… for him. His schedules disappeared, and some of his giveaways were epic. Opening up Humboldt Country redwoods for clearcutting, right after (I don’t remember his name) wealthy Texan investor bought out (I think it was) Pacific Lumber who financed the purchase selling stock promising to clear cut.

        And… other then this stuff Davis did nothing. He worked his way up through Ca politics for many years, people said good things about him, and he was well liked. All of the most influential Ca. Dems supported him. Everyone thought he would be a good, Democratic governor.

        3 years later, entire party had soured on him. And it was the reason I said: he just didn’t do anything.

        Yah, the recall sucked and was bad for the state. Ahnold is definately not on my all time favorite list (although I did lie T2), and all the other stuff the same.

        Pete Wilson was complicit in waving Enron in to wreak their havoc on California. He was the worst kind of crooked.

        • RitaRita says:

          Gray Davis was a moderate Democrat. He was a politician and, therefore, prone to making deals and concessions not pleasing to all. He was unfairly blamed for the electricity crisis. (The “granny” reference was that energy traders were caught laughing about how their energy grid manipulation would ended up freezing granny.)

          He had just been re-elected. He didn’t do anything in that short period of time to merit recall. I’d have to go back and look at the timber clear-cutting issue. PL had had a good record with sustainable harvesting and then the family sold to the Texan who wanted to clear cut. For the most part, the locals were happy because they got jobs.

          Regardless, Gray Davis should not have been recalled 10 months after he had just won re-election.

          • jdmckay8 says:

            I guess we disagree. He wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t… there. He did nothing.

            Article on (you probably remember his name) Charles Hurwitz and his purchase of Pacific Lumber. And you remember correctly: the family owned PL had been really good stewards of those forests for over a hundred years. They were held in high regard by both lumber people and environmental groups.

            This article covers Davis’ relationship with Hurwitz. And it wasn’t just Hurwitz, there were a bunch of others.

            Your memory of the electricity thing (the Enron Affect) doesn’t match mine. Wilson hired Enron consultants to write laws making their California Scam a lot easier. He never paid for that.

            But Davis signed the contracts. It was well known by then how this came about, both what Wilson did and what California was facing as a consequence. Wikipedia describes some of that here.

            And it wasn’t just electricity costs. PG&E was the utility that managed everything for northern California for a long time. Blue Chip company, great place for young people to make a good career with good $$, benefits etc etc. Part of what Enron did was convince markets PG&E’s assets were worth much less than they’d had on books forever. It drove PG&E into bankruptcy.

            An east coast investor group bought all the assets for pennies on the $$, and the price returned to what it was after the gas started flowing in again.

            The new company kept the same name, and their the ones who were responsible for several catastrophes due to lack of (or no) maintenance.

            Davis could have changed this course of events. He didn’t even try. I’m sure I could find articles covering public (including Dems) disgust with him at this time.

            • Rugger_9 says:

              The root cause of Pacific Lumber’s problems in Scotia had nothing to do with Davis. The problem was that Maxxam had heavily leveraged the buyout with tons of debt and had to pay off the bills fast. The sustainable model that Pacific Lumber had used to build a decent cash pile (gone in 60 seconds) wasn’t generating profits fast enough. So Maxxam ordered clear cutting.

              Was Gray Davis supposed to prevent the merger? He wouldn’t have the authority.

              • jdmckay8 says:

                The article I linked wrt Davis’ relationship with Hurwitz explains some of Davis’ role. Your account only tells a little of the story. Hurwitz’s plan to clearcut was well known before the transaction to buy PL’s assets began.

                Davis never made an attempt to change this, or prevent what turned out to be years of inflated energy costs: this was the work of crooks (Enron) who said: “Stick ’em up”, and Gray said: “How high?”

                Was Gray Davis supposed to prevent the merger?

                It was a sale, not a merger.

                He wouldn’t have the authority.

                There were a lot of people in-the-know wrt his multiple options, legally and legislatively, who very publicly asserted otherwise at the time.

                Anyway, water under the bridge.

            • RitaRita says:

              Gray Davis was no Jerry Brown or Pat Brown, for sure.

              But he wasn’t recalled for his cozy relationship with big business. The recall was engineered by Republicans looking to overturn the results of the recent election.

              PS Thanks for reminding me of Charles Hurwitz. It was a leveraged buyout. He was always going to strip the timber assets and run.

              • jdmckay8 says:

                Agree he (or California) didn’t deserve the recall.

                Doesn’t follow that, therefore, Gray was ok. 2 entirely separate things.

          • P J Evans says:

            The excuse the GOP used was that he raised car registration fees. As I recall, they’d been lowered for a set period, which was agreed to BY the GOP, and when the end of that period approached, they lied about it and started the recall. Most of the whiners were people who never seemed to keep cars long enough to find out that the fees dropped, being based on blue-book values.
            (I voted No and Cruz.)

  12. person1597 says:

    “Well, it’s all right even if they say you’re wrong
    Well, it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
    Well, it’s all right as long as you got somewhere to lay
    Well, it’s all right, every day is Judgment Day”

    • bmaz says:

      Lol. So Fulton County extracted a pissant misdemeanor, no jail, plea out of the weakest defendant they charged in their ridiculously over broad and sprawling indictment. What a continuing joke.

      • Peterr says:

        If he’s the first to plead, he will get the best deal. At a minimum, that makes it much harder for those who showed up in the Coffee County election offices to get off, and it also makes it harder for those above him who directed him to get those machines like Sidney Powell to get off as well.

        It’s the upstream folks that have to be worried about this plea.

        • bmaz says:

          LOLOLOL, thanks for the helpful primer on pleas in conspiracy cases. This is such a fucking joke, it is pitiful. I guess time will tell, but so far Fulton County looks so ludicrous that it makes John Durham’s work look competent. And that is pretty sad. Hey, maybe Fulton County can reel Putin in too, they seem to think they have jurisdiction everywhere else the world instead of just Fulton County, like every other county prosecutor in the country not otherwise specifically designated.

          • Peterr says:

            Suppose you are the defense attorney for one of the others involved in the Coffee County election machine tampering part of this case. Leave aside the RICO stuff for a minute, and tell me how you’d be thinking right now, with Hall pleading guilty and agreeing to testify against your client?

            • bmaz says:

              How do you “leave behind” the RICO garbage? That is silly. The entire indictment uses it as a backbone. I would be thinking about everything as opposed to how my client can pimp out like Hall. I would not worry about Hall, I’d worry about my client.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Scott Hall may not be such a weak defendant. He is David Bossie’s brother-in-law. Bossie has strong connections to Bannon. Bannon has strong connections to Peter Schweizer.

        They have a writer on their staff by the name of Wynton Hall who ghostwrote a book for Trump in 2011 called “Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again.” It was updated in 2015 to “Time to Get Tough: Make America Great Again!” Wynton Hall may or may not be related to Scott Hall.

        Here’s Marcy’s post on Scott Hall: “The Guts of the Alleged Conspiracy: Scott Hall”

        • bmaz says:

          Is David Bossie charged in the sprawling Fulton County indictment? No? How about Bannon or Schweizer? No? People remain out of their minds on this bunk, especially the Fulton County crap.


          • bmaz says:

            Lol, why? This is penny ante bullshit. The only thing it really shows is that Fulton County is willing to make cheap deals. That, might, be a good projection. Might not.

            • Unabogie says:

              He participated in a break in of our election machines in pursuit of overturning a free and fair election.

              In no world is that “penny ante bullshit.”

              I agree with many things you say but when it comes to Fani Willis you are just blinkered.

              • bmaz says:

                I will bet I have been doing this one hell of a lot longer than you, and bet I am much better suited to discern vindictive/abusive prosecution than you. He “participated in a break in of our election machines”? Really? So you live in the friendly confines of the city of Atlanta, in ONE of the 159 counties in Georgia? Really? And, if, as I suspect not, then who are “we” Kemosabe.

                Go “blinker” yourself. Get back to me when you understand anything relatively in criminal law. As you clearly cannot tell a no jail (much less prison, not that you probably know the difference) common misdemeanor from something critical, means you have no clue in the world.

                • Peterr says:

                  Bmaz, you might want to dial it back a bit.

                  Hall was caught on video. Charging him isn’t exactly vindictive or abusive, or even a big stretch. He and his compatriots entered an election facility, without proper authorization, and sought to hack into the election software. This is not an overreach – it’s damn obvious to anyone who looks at the video and evidence. Insofar as there is a stretch, it is tying this all into a big RICO case.

                  Folks can argue about whether Willis should have broken her prosecution into several smaller cases or (as she did) lumped them all into one big GA RICO case. But getting Hall to flip is garden variety prosecution practice, and the folks charged alongside Hall have to worry about what he will testify to and how that will affect their own defense.

                  • bmaz says:

                    Lol, no, I am fine and very comfortable with my view of the absurd Fulton County case. Thanks anyway for the education of how pleas work in little county courts.

                    Coconino County in AZ is the second largest county in the US (Adviso, Fulton County is not in the top 100). Should their local DA be doing the bunk Fulton County is?

                    Los Angeles County has 10X the population of Fulton County (my little podunk county has 5X the residents of Fulton County) , should they also be grandstanding like Fulton County? There are literally 100s of local prosecutors where I live, should they too be in charge of national election law as Fulton Count bogusly asserts? How far do you think this garbage should go in local courts?

                • Unabogie says:

                  Huh, I responded pretty clearly to this by explaining how stealing the Dominion machine images puts our entire election integrity at grave risk, and that I am an American with an interest in free and fair elections, but it seems to have been deleted. Perhaps I need to throw more racist “Kemosabe” references into my replies?

        • bmaz says:

          Lol. Yes, and what if Fulton County indicts Putin? The answer will still be that this is the most absurd local prosecution in history. I know people want to get Trump et. al, but this is just a ridiculous and dangerous precedent.

          • StellaBlue says:

            If Putin commits a crime in Fulton County, I hope she does. All the defendants are charged with committing crimes in her county. Many of them could be charged in any number of counties and that would be fine with me. Willis is the one with the guts to charge them, may history judge her well. May the endless appeals be kind to her. I have no problem with a fascist criminal gang facing charges at the county, state and federal level. Remember what we are fighting against and for; our republic if we can keep it and fascism if we can defeat it.

            • bmaz says:

              What a load of garbage. Now you want Fani Willis to have international jurisdiction too?? Is there simply nothing the pretty small Fulton County does not control? Is there no limit to Fulton County’s power and reach? This is ridiculous Trump Derangement Syndrome in the flesh.

              I do not know what “you” are fighting for, but do not include me in that “we”. I am laughing wildly that you are ranting about a “republic” but don’t give a shit about jurisdiction, and are damning “fascism” while championing the most out of control prosecutor I have ever seen. But, hey, thanks for explaining what “we” are fighting for. No thanks.

              • timbozone says:

                No. We just want local jurisdictions to have the right and duty to enforce their own local election laws. Why is that too much to ask for?

              • StellaBlue says:

                None of the defendants are making the claim their actions did not occur or effect Fulton County. If Putin were to visit Fulton County or take actions in Fulton County, then yes, she should act. George Floyds murderers were charged at the local and federal level. Are you outraged about that?

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  13. Rugger_9 says:

    Having watched DiFi for a long time, she did benefit from the (ahem) ‘quality’ of the GOP candidates running against her. With that said, she did do a lot of good for the nation for which we thank her. She also stayed on too long but that’s a fairly routine human failing (i.e. how many disasters are tied to one more year of deferred maintenance, people who keep driving when they are dangerous, etc.). She felt she could still do the job and she feared becoming irrelevant if she was retired.

    What I worry about is what McConnell and his minions will do, especially with respect to judges. Even with the need to reboot his brain during press conferences, McConnell can throw a lot of sand into the confirmation process.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      So far McConnell and the Senate GOPers are saying they will let the Dems fil Feinstein’s vacancy on the Judiciary Committee. We’ll see if they keep their word after Newsom’s appointment is made.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        With the appointment of Laphonsa Butler (who is Black, a woman and lesbian, guaranteed to cause the vapors in the RWNM universe) is Newsom’s way of thumbing his nose at the centrists.

        Newsom also vetoed the labor friendly bill to permit unemployment benefits while on strike (it would have removed one of management’s key advantages in contract negotiations) which I think will come back to haunt him in 2028. The unions will not forget this.

        • Just Some Guy says:

          Laphonza is her name. I think she’s a good choice.

          I don’t think she will be who the Senate Dems name to replace Feinstein on Judiciary though I could be mistaken.

    • jdmckay8 says:

      she did benefit from the (ahem) ‘quality’ of the GOP candidates running against her.

      True, but not completely so. The smear and dirty tricks campaign Huffington ran against her was at that time, the ugliest thing I had seen in my then young life. And I was kind of shocked by it back then: it was intimidating. No point in regurgitating all that again, but it was ugly.

      Even though DiFi won that election, it was my impression that experience had profound affect on her. She was never again quite as outspoken, not drawing clear lines in policy (especially social issues) as she had previously. Looking back, I think my impression was in the ballpark.

  14. janinsanfran says:

    Diane Feinstein was my Senator all those years and before that, my mayor. I was not a fan, despite being gay and appreciative of her work to curb guns. Didn’t vote for her for over 40 years — until she turned her rigid demand for propriety on the torture apologists. But she did do that and deserves great credit.

    Connie Rice (of LA) would be an interesting interim Senator.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Given the unprecedented age and demands of and on the current Senate, I would not favor a candidate in their late 70s for a six-year tenure, especially given the allure of holding on to the job for a second or third term. I would prefer someone more progressive than Ms. Feinstein, which means I’m not a fan of Nancy Pelosi’s kingmaking pick of Adam Schiff. Still leaves a good and probably expanding field.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        I don’t think it’s for six years. DiFi’s seat is up in 2024 which is what Lee, Schiff and Porter are competing for against some GOP stuffed suit whodats. Unless the interim files for re-election (and I think the filing deadline is past) they’re out in January 2025 with the new Congress coming in.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I was referring to the general election, not an interim appointment. California could afford an older short-term interim appointee. The work would be as daunting, but not for as long as a full term.

    • janinsanfran says:

      Among the actual aspirants in the 2024 election, I favor Porter. She’d stir ’em up a bit, a la Fetterman in a different vein. I wish Barbara Lee were younger but we don’t need any more gerontocracy. She’s been a rock though. If Schiff wins, I’ll be fine with that. He’d be a good smart Senator. We’re genuinely lucky here in CA.

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  15. foggycoast says:

    lived and worked in s.f. for 35 years from the mid 70’s to 2012. still nearby but outside the city. strange days indeed. much has been said here about her polical life so i won’t add to that. i will say i used to take my daughter to her house every halloween. they gave out full-size candy bars and she did hand it to us one time. onward…

  16. e.a. foster says:

    Thank you for this post. I did not know about her work on torture by the C.I.A. She was an amazing person and did a lot of good work. I remember her from the days I was much, much younger and she and Barbra Jordon were two women who inspired me. Rembering the murders, it was so shocking. It seemed like a nighmare. Fienstein held it together and moved forward. Fienstein has an amazing body of work to remember her by.

  17. LaMissy! says:

    From the New Yorker, June 2015, while events were still fresh, comes evidence that Dianne Feinstein was a badass.


    I saw an interview on PBS’ NewsHour with a friend of Feinstein’s, former California Congresswoman Jane Harman, who said she visited with the Senator on Thursday afternoon for about an hour. Harman was quite surprised to hear of Feinstein’s death later the same day. There’s a photo of the two of them and Feinstein looks okay, though not a robust picture of health, obviously. (https:// at about 14:30)

    Has a cause of death been made public?

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