Senator Dianne Feinstein, a critic’s appraisal

I guess if I have a target in this hypothetical quest, it is Senator Dianne Feinstein.  The following is a catalogue, of sorts, of the reasons why I believe she has disserved the citizens of this state and country:

1.      At the very best, Senator Feinstein did not make an effort to get to the bottom of the crimes of 9/11.  If she had doubts about the handling of the investigation or the fact that the administration did its best to prevent an investigation, she did not make them public.  If she was shocked or dismayed by the dispatch with which the evidence of the World Trade Center collapses was hauled away, she did not share that reaction with the public.

As recently as a month ago, her chief counsel and terrorism expert, Steve Cash, said that he believed all of the questions that had been raised about 9/11 had been more than adequately addressed by the various official investigations.  He was not, at that moment, able to provide the substance of the answers to any of the questions, nor was he able to make reference to any particular book or part of a book where the answer might be contained.  Though he pledged to do his best to provide the relevant references, he has not been heard from since, and subsequent phone calls have not been returned.  Since Senator Feinstein has not seen fit to answer any of the questions that have been posed to her concerning 9/11, one must assume that her level of interest in the subject, or position with regard to the questions, is the same as that of her chief counsel and terrorism expert.

I do not believe that one should expect that a citizen who has achieved a leadership position on the national level is in any material way different from the citizens who elected her.  She should be assumed to be intelligent, and well-informed, but she should not be thought of as immune to the emotional responses to the loss of three thousand lives and the apparent vulnerability which was on that day uncovered.  She should, as well, for some significant period of time, be allowed to take her fellow government officials at their word when they give explanations for what took place.

For some significant period of time, but not forever.  She is not permitted to turn off her powers of deduction indefinitely.  She is not permitted to remain willfully blind because of the admitted enormous, quite indescribable political morass one is required to navigate with eyes open.  She is not permitted to forget the nature of the character of the men and women in power.  She is not permitted to forget that the administration in power achieved that status illegitimately, twice.

The idea that Bush and Cheney committed the atrocity of mass murder and treason does not form easily in the minds of most Americans.  It should not form easily in the mind of a United States Senator, but with sufficient study, investigation, and knowledge of history, it must find its place as a hypothesis, even if it is only to serve the cause of silencing critics.  Most skeptics of the official story would gladly go home, presented with sufficiently convincing evidence.  In a democratic republic it should be the responsibility of the people€™s leaders to protect the integrity of the government and assure confidence in its processes.  It has been the time for Senator Feinstein to serve this particular function for at least two years, since the publishing of the 9/11 Commission Report and the, now, many rebuttals to it.  Apparently, we as citizens will wait indefinitely for our concerns to be addressed, much less the underlying rot to be eradicated.

2.      After the 2000 election, the United States Civil Rights Commission conducted an investigation of the electoral process in Florida.  It found what a number of other independent researchers had found, that serious crimes had been committed by officials in Florida.  The Commission€™s recommendation was for the federal and state prosecutorial authorities to initiate a criminal investigation to bring to justice those who had committed crimes, crimes that perverted the election and allowed the Supreme Court, in dishonor and without the semblance of a legal justification, to commit the further crimes that created a victory for George Bush. In simple terms, what did Dianne Feinstein do or say about that?  It can hardly be said that she was alone in her silence and paralysis.  Seen in the most flattering light, even Al Gore, the human being principally aggrieved, was not able to identify the defining principle, the integrity of the democratic process, as requiring his leadership skills.  Instead, or maybe in spite of his identification of the principle, he chose to preserve his perceived political viability, to the detriment of the nation.  Even this nation€™s greatest living citizen and Presidential candidate that very year, Ralph Nader, could not understand his duty as a leader to exercise his power in an effort to prevent the manipulations in Florida that would turn into the theft of an election.

Whatever limitations became apparent in the characters and performances of other politicians at this critical time in American history, Senator Feinstein did, for all intents and purposes, nothing.  Specifically, she refused, as did every other Democratic senator, even with the essential outlines of the criminal activity available to anyone who cared, to object to the election as members of the Black Caucus begged for support.  Acknowledging the extremely difficult position of any politician under the circumstances, wary of being referred to as a fringe element of some kind or another by the dominant media, it must still be said that this was a moment when the democracy was in crisis, as members of the Black Caucus made clear, and Senator Feinstein chose the path of weakness and inaction.

3.      The years between the 2000 election and the 2004 election gave ample reason for concern that the crisis that anointed George Bush might well be predictive of a determination by the Republican Administration to stay in power at any cost.  More than one investigator sounded alarms over the conduct of the 2002 election, particularly in Georgia.  The strategies pursued in the theft of the 2000 election by themselves should have been sufficient reason for a member of the United States Senate to take action.  Senator Feinstein took none.

4.      The 2004 election gave Senator Feinstein one more chance to demonstrate her courage, tenacity, and leadership.  Senator Barbara Boxer objected to the election, but she was all alone.  Both of the studies conducted by elements of the Democratic Party, that by Congressman Conyers, and that by Donna Brazile, established legions of irregularities that make fun of the word €œcrime€.  Additional studies by statisticians, political scientists, and journalists demonstrate what the exit polls showed on the night of the election, that the 2004 election was stolen just as the 2000 election had been.  What speeches has Senator Feinstein made, what outrage has she expressed?  Why her silence?  What are her constituents to think?

5.      If there is a name that crystallizes and summarizes the inadequacy of Senator Feinstein€™s career, it is John Negroponte.  Before his confirmation hearings began for the post of Director of National Intelligence, it was pointed out to Senator Feinstein what an exquisite opportunity the nation was being handed to make a record of, and teach the citizens about, the failings of American foreign policy over the last forty years.  Senator Feinstein€™s response touted Mr. Negroponte€™s years of experience and predicted an honorable period of service to the country.

Whether Mr. Negroponte has served as an intelligence officer or not is of no great moment, though it would be extremely interesting to know.  What is beyond question is that he served in Vietnam in some sort of capacity or other under the guidance of William Colby who at the time was preparing to take credit for the success of the Phoenix Program, which, all spin and legalistic platitudes aside, was a continuation of the counterinsurgency ideas first put in play by John Kennedy in the early €˜60€™s.  Harvesting names from whatever source was available to it, regardless of the dangers of unreliability, the CIA set about to capture and torture, or simply murder, the men, women, and children thought to be attached to those names.  Due process was unthinkable.  I can€™t remember whether it was twenty or forty-some thousand who died in an approximately two year period.

The Phoenix Program in which Negroponte had a hand was nothing more than a new name for other similar efforts to eradicate the enemy political infrastructure.  In Indonesia beginning in 1965, a similar operation killed 500,000 or more supposed Communist sympathizers.  It was foreign policy by death squad, and it found its expression all over the world.  The US government simply sought to learn who were its favored regime€™s political opponents, no matter the source of the designation, and then killed them.  The policy produced the extermination of 400-600 villages in Guatemala in the 1980€™s, for which President Clinton issued a somewhat understated apology.  Did Senator Feinstein call for that apology?  Was she even opposed to the policy which saw between 200 and 700 townspeople of El Mozote in El Salvador gunned down from helicopters and a similar number at Rio Sumpul.  The scalpel-like precision of the targeted assassination of individuals whose names appeared on a list had not given way so much as been joined by wholesale slaughter in so-called €œfree-fire zones€ as evidenced by the My Lai massacre and Operation Speedy Express in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam.

The assassination of opposition leaders was also a part of the strategy resulting in the killing, most famously of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador in 1981 and nine Jesuit priests not quite a decade later.  John Negroponte was in charge of the carrying out of this death squad foreign policy in Honduras as the US sought to overthrow the Sandinista regime in neighboring Nicaragua.  Battalion 316 has been made famous by even the mainstream news, but Negroponte, in his confirmation hearings, denied knowing anything about the Battalion or its tactics and techniques.

And there, upon the silverest of platters was the opportunity of any lifetime to bring to consciousness the morally bereft efforts of the US government to conduct foreign policy around the world at the end of the barrel of a gun.  Let€™s begin with your posting to Saigon, Mr. Negroponte.  What did you know about our policy then?  If nothing, how did you manage to stay ignorant for however long you did, in the face of expose after expose?  Did you make it all the way through the 1980€™s without learning about what was done in Indonesia 20 years before?  Was there the slightest suspicion that some of these policies might be ongoing, especially with the rather severely tarnished name that your partners the Contras had managed to achieve for themselves?  What sorts of steps did you take, exactly, to insure that your name wouldn€™t be sullied by what was taking place across the border?

Apparently, Dianne Feinstein didn€™t think this would have been a healthy way for a confirmation hearing to proceed.  Apparently, she did not think the American people deserving of such an education.  Should we not then presume that she approved entirely of the methods this government used to murder its political opponents?

It may well be that the citizens of this country don€™t care to what extent morality plays a part in foreign affairs. Maybe the country applauded then, and applauds now.  Unless the matter is debated, however, and covered as matters of life and death should be, onlookers and future generations will be left to speculate.  We need not speculate upon the view of Senator Dianne Feinstein on the matter.  In this instance her silence, if at times it took that form, must be seen along side of her demonstrated record of support for such an implementer of policy as is, and was, John Negroponte..

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