The Intelligence Committee
Senator Feinstein has served on the Intelligence Committee since 2001. In that time she served as Chairman from 2009-2015 and as Vice Chairman from 2015-2017. During her time as Chairman of the SSCI, Senator Feinstein led the drafting and subsequent enactment of six consecutive authorization bills following a six-year span without authorization legislation. These bills are crucial tools to exercise oversight of the U.S. intelligence community, authorize funding for intelligence activities, and add or amend legislation affecting the intelligence community.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is responsible for providing oversight of all U.S. intelligence agencies. As a member of the committee, Senator Feinstein regularly reviews intelligence reports, budgets and activities and participates in committee investigations.
CIA Detention and Interrogation Report
In December 2014, the committee declassified the executive summary of a report led by Senator Feinstein that detailed brutal detention and interrogation methods used by the CIA in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
Information on the report can be found here.
The report reached four key conclusions:
- The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.
- The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
- The management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
- The program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.
Committee staff examined more than 6.3 million pages of records to compile a 6,700-page report backed up by 38,000 footnotes. Although the full report remains classified, the 500-page executive summary provides a broad overview of the program.
Following the release of the executive summary, Senator Feinstein joined Senator John McCain to offer an amendment to ban so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the ban in June 2015.
Senator Feinstein is committed to keeping the report’s executive summary in the public eye as well as the full declassification of the entire report.
Senator Feinstein is continually working on efforts to enhance the cybersecurity capabilities of the United States, including bolstering information sharing.In May 2022, Senator Feinstein signed a letter requesting information from the Department of Homeland Security on efforts to protect the United States from Russian cyber and disinformation threats. The letter to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas references past Russian cyber operations – such the SolarWinds attack – as evidence of their history of engaging in malicious cyber activities that target the United States.
In August 2021, Senator Feinstein introduced the Sanction and Stop Ransomware Act, legislation to strengthen the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and target foreign governments that knowingly provide safe haven for cybercriminals.
In 2015, a bill she worked on with Senator Richard Burr was signed into law. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act encourages the voluntary sharing of cyber-threat information, both company-to-company sharing as well as between companies and the government. This type of information sharing—with strict safeguards for private information—is key to countering cyber attacks.
The bill establishes the Department of Homeland Security as the federal portal to share cybersecurity information. It also maintains liability protections for companies, limited to the actions authorized in the bill. And in addition to incorporating robust privacy protections, the bill restricts the government’s use of cyber information to cybersecurity purposes and specific instances of major harm to people or the economy.
In an age where it seems like a high-profile hack of a government agency or a Fortune 500 company occurs so frequently, working together to stem cyber threats is crucial. Senator Feinstein is committed to ensuring that both government and the private-sector have the tools they need to share information about cyber threats and the defensive measures they can implement to protect their networks.