Dianne Feinstein was clearly one of the main people behind the creation and release of a Senate report that found that torture by the CIA, in addition to everything else wrong with it, did not serve any useful purpose, that claims by the organization that torture had produced critical information were lies. She has also been one of the principle supporters of the NSA practice of mass surveillance, arguably illegal and indeed unconstitutional. The NSA has defended that program by claiming that it produced critical information. That claim too has been challenged, although not, so far, by Feinstein.
Which raises an interesting question. Will Feinstein be willing to generalize her conclusion? Having discovered that one large federal bureaucracy engaged in controversial policies to fight terrorism has been deliberately lying about their effects, will she become less willing to believe another large federal bureaucracy also engaged in controversial policies to fight terrorism?
There are two reasons she might not.
One is that the organizations are different; she may believe one more to be trusted than the other. I find that argument unconvincing in part because of a conversation many years ago with a friend who, although not an NSA employee, was part of the culture around the NSA. He assured me, and I am sure believed, that the NSA could be trusted, that organization culture would prevent them from illegal spying on U.S. citizens even if they thought they could get away with it. That was well before the fact came out that the NSA had been intercepting phone calls without the authorization required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in violation of federal law.
A second and less creditable reason she may be unwilling to generalize her conclusion is that the CIA misdeeds covered in the report occurred in response to the 9/11 attack, with the result that the misdeeds can be reasonably blamed on a Republican administration. I have not read the Senate report, but I gather from news stories on it that it does not go into the question of whether similar misdeeds occurred earlier under other administrations. NSA spying has been going on for a long time under both Republicans and
Democrats and continues under the current
It will be interesting to see if Feinstein joins in the calls for criminal prosecution of some of those responsible for CIA torture. I do not remember her arguing for criminal prosecution of NSA employees who violated FISA or against Congress immunizing phone companies from liability for their illegal sharing of customer information with federal authorities.
Whether or not Feinstein is willing to generalize from the CIA to the NSA, the important question is whether other people are.