Jewish Senators Clash on NSA Snooping Scandal

Diane Feinstein and Ron Wyden on Opposite Sides of Issue

Security Voice: Diane Feinstein has been one of the strongest voices defending the surreptitious collection of communications information. Not all her colleagues agree.
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Security Voice: Diane Feinstein has been one of the strongest voices defending the surreptitious collection of communications information. Not all her colleagues agree.

By JTA

Published June 14, 2013.
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Senator Ron Wyden, left, talking to Senator Jay Rockefeller during the nomination hearing of John Brennan for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, February 7, 2013. (John D. Rockefeller/Creative Commons) Feinstein is an outspoken advocate for the death penalty and has close ties to the centrist pro-Israel community and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — neither position a particularly popular one in Feinstein’s northern California base. But she has also endorsed the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for comprehensive peace in exchange for a return to the 1967 borders, and cited Israel’s use of cluster bombs in Lebanon to explain her repeated bids to ban the export of those arms.

In 2011, Wyden unnerved his Democratic colleagues when he joined with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, in advocating for private options for seniors eligible for Medicare. Notably, the Gray Panthers, the organization that launched his public career, adamantly opposed the Wyden-Ryan proposal.

Wyden suggested in a lengthy response on the Huffington Post that he was not about to stop working with Republicans or anyone else if it would advance the rights of Americans.

“Because we worked together, Paul Ryan now knows more about the Medicare Guarantee and protecting seniors from unscrupulous insurance practices than he did before,” Wyden said. “If that is reflected in his budget this year, as someone who has been fighting for seniors since he was 27 years old, I think that’s a step in the right direction.”

Levine, the former California congressman, said that what Feinstein and Wyden had most in common was not worrying about whether they marched in lockstep with their colleagues.

“They’re both extremely principled, they do what they believe is right and they march to the tune of their own drummers, each of them,” he said.


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