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Senator Dianne Feinstein Dead At 90, Wrote Report On CIA Torture.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images US Senator Dianne Feinstein has died, age 90.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate from California in 1992 and went on to champion abortion, gun control, and the abolition of torture died today, National Public Radio has confirmed. She was 90 years of age and had apparently been unwell for some time.

Feinstein’s rise in politics began on Nov. 27, 1978, when her city was jolted by two political assassinations at City Hall. As president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, she announced the news to a shocked press corps.

“As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to announce that both Mayor [George] Moscone and Supervisor [Harvey] Milk have been shot and killed,” Feinstein said in a firm but clearly stunned voice.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown – a longtime political ally of hers – said Feinstein’s handling of the assassinations crisis cemented her reputation.

“It was a dramatic demonstration of how in the face of total and complete disaster, somebody could stand up to settle the ship,” Brown said in 2022.

After the city hall assassinations, Mayor Feinstein signed a local gun control ordinance, angering a fringe gun rights organization called the White Panthers.

Collaborating with groups unhappy with the mayor’s pro-growth, pro-business and other moderate policies, the White Panthers managed to collect enough signatures to place a recall of Feinstein on the ballot in 1983. The recall failed, catapulting Feinstein into easy reelection later that year.

As mayor, Feinstein governed from the center – winning support from business groups, law enforcement unions and the city’s more conservative voters. Her moderate governing style often angered San Francisco’s more liberal activists.

In 1982 she vetoed legislation that would have allowed same sex couples to form domestic partnerships entitling them to city benefits, hospital visitation rights and more. She also refused to sign “comparable worth” legislation guaranteeing women equal pay to men who work similar jobs.

In a 2001 interview with C-SPAN, Feinstein attributed her political philosophy to her upbringing.

“My mother was a Democrat. My father was a Goldwater Republican. So we had a split family,” Feinstein said.

In 1990, after leaving the mayor’s office, Feinstein ran for governor. She lost narrowly to Republican Sen. Pete Wilson. But a year later, the political climate changed with the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

When law professor Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual misconduct when they worked together, members of the Judiciary Committee, including Democratic Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama, questioned Hill’s integrity and motivation.

“Are you a scorned woman? Do you have a militant attitude relative to the area of civil rights?” Sen. Heflin drawled.

Feinstein used those widely criticized hearings as a springboard to the U.S. Senate.

“Many people took a look at that all-male Judiciary Committee and frankly felt they badly botched the job,” Feinstein said campaigning in 1992. Her platform included writing a woman’s right to an abortion into federal law.

“The Congress must pass it and the president must sign it. And if he vetoes it, we must override that veto,” she said.

Feinstein won the Senate seat, making history as part of the so-called Year of the Woman.

In Washington, she advocated gun control, overcoming stiff odds to pass a federal ban on assault weapons in 1994. Later that year she almost lost reelection. But she developed a reputation as a workhorse, someone who did her homework, and wasn’t afraid to rock the boat.

In 2014, over objections from the Obama administration, she took to the Senate floor to release a comprehensive report on torture by the CIA following the Sept. 11th terrorist airplane attacks on New York City.

“Releasing this report is an important step to restore our values and show the world that we are, in fact, a just and lawful society,” Feinstein said.

The 500-page summary report by the Intelligence Committee Feinstein chaired revealed in stark detail CIA mistreatment of prisoners, including things like waterboarding and sleep deprivation.

Tom Blanton, who heads the National Security Archive at George Washington University, says the investigation Feinstein directed made the intelligence community accountable.

“I think the Senate torture report was probably the high point of Sen. Feinstein’s entire Senate career,” Blanton said.

Source: NPR.