Is Feinstein an Ally for Benghazi Truth-Seekers?

In the days since the Petraeus scandal broke, you can see Republicans routinely offering praise and name-dropping for Feinstein's messaging and efforts -- carefully, without going so far as suggesting she's defying her party or administration.

"I'm urging Democrats and Republicans to put aside any partisanship and find a way forward," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said at a press conference on Benghazi today. "Dianne Feinstein has been terrific."

"I was with Diane Feinstein, we were both on a Sunday program this week, and certainly watched her comments, but talked to her back before we both went on and it's almost beyond belief that this would be happening and the leaders of our intelligence community would not know that it's happening," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Tuesday on MSNBC.

"I agree with Dianne Feinstein -- pretty hard to come up with any legitimate reason not to know what General Petraeus saw and learned while he was in Libya," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Tuesday on Fox.

"As Senator Feinstein said over the weekend, she didn't even know what the White House knew as it related to General Petraeus," Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said Tuesday on CNN.

"And if they were not informed, and it looks like Senator Feinstein was not informed, then something is grossly wrong. Those people have to know," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) Tuesday on CNN.

"I expect at some point former General Petraeus is going to need talk of it and there's a bipartisan call for that. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the intelligence committee, has said that, as well. The American people need to know what happened," Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Monday on Fox.

But even Democrats, not talking much about Benghazi these days, acknowledged that Feinstein is leading the charge on the Petraeus scandal notification question that might not bode well for the administration.

"We're going to have, I'm sure, the intelligence committee involved in this. I heard Senator Feinstein talking about her plans, so I think that we will get to the bottom of this," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said on CNN Tuesday.

"I think Dianne Feinstein is right to be miffed," former Rep. Jane Harman said today on CNN. "I think that she and Saxby Chambliss should and will hold closed-door hearings and get all the facts."

Even though she clearly supports her party, Feinstein has been critical of the administration in an election year, if not widely publicized.

In January, Feinstein argued at a hearing that the White House was trying to paint a rosier public picture of the situation in Afghanistan in paving the way for a 2014 exit than intelligence and military leaders really believe behind closed doors.

“In Afghanistan, the surge of U.S. forces that began in ’09 has produced meaningful gains. That said, I think we’re all very concerned about what will happen in 2014 when we reduce our troop commitment and President [Hamid] Karzai’s term is up,” Feinstein said.

In her questioning of Petraeus, she even took a swipe at the intelligence leaks.

“Once again, this committee has been put in a difficult position of trying to avoid any mention of classified matters when various parts of the executive branch may be doing somewhat the opposite,” Feinstein said.

The current commander in Afghanistan now embroiled in the Petraeus scandal, Gen. John Allen, was supposed to issue recommendations on the Afghanistan timeline to the White House before the end of the year. Allen has expressed concern about Taliban infiltration of the Afghan National Security Forces and attacks staged on American forces from within those ranks.

Feinstein has even been calling out the administration on environmental overreach. In a May letter to the California Fish and Game Commission regarding permit renewal for an oyster farm, she stated that scientific data being used to reject the business' request "had been manipulated" to show adverse environmental impact.

"The Park Service has repeatedly misrepresented the scientific record since 2006 to portray the farm as environmentally harmful, and it is my belief that the Park Service is doing everything it can to justify ending the oyster farm’s operations," she wrote. "…The Park Service’s repeated misrepresentations of the scientific record have damaged its trust with the local community, and stained its reputation for even-handed treatment of competing uses of public resources."

In a February op-ed in the Marin Independent Journal, Feinstein again criticized National Park Service overreach against business, including a line that could have come from any number of Republicans on the Hill fighting odious environmental regs: "We should all agree that decisions based on science we know to be flawed is a stark violation of the public trust."