November 17, 2015

Former Senator Feingold Tries To Rewrite His National Security Record

In the wake of devastating attacks in Paris, former Sen. Russ Feingold is trying to talk tough on terrorism. Apparently Feingold is banking on Wisconsin voters developing mass amnesia, allowing them to forget he has arguably the worst counterterrorism record of any member of Congress who held office following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Feingold was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act immediately following the attacks in 2001 and was one of just nine senators to vote against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. He even voted against extending the “lone wolf” provision in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which “would permit wiretapping and surveillance of foreign terrorist suspects who operate alone” – a major area of concern in the age of ISIS’ brand of social media-driven terrorism.

He was still touting his opposition to the Patriot Act in 2012. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Feingold said his vote was “one of the best things I have ever done” and went on to praise President Obama’s “real understanding of the international situation”:

BLITZER: Do you regret, Senator, being the only U.S. Senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act right after 9/11?

FEINGOLD: Absolutely not. That was probably one of the best things I have ever done. It was a difficult thing. I read the bill. You know, it was sort of unique thing. I thought maybe I should read this thing. And I can see that it was sort of like, as the late Bob Novak said, it included an old wish list of the FBI, things that didn’t have to do with terrorism, like going after people’s library records who had done absolutely nothing wrong. I also point out in the book there’s such a thing as sneak-and-peek searches of people’s houses without a warrant. These weren’t even used for terrorist situations after it was put in the PATRIOT Act. So, it was a power grab. It was an example of what I talk about in the book, which is the use of al Qaeda and the fear to manipulate our domestic politics.

And you’re going to see that tonight in the debate, where you’ll see these Republican candidates use phrases and attacking the President for allegedly apologizing for America as a replacement for having a real policy. The President actually has a real understanding of the international situation, and in my view President Obama is doing an excellent job on the international front, and If he’s reelected – as I suspect he will be – I think he could end up being one of our great presidents from the point of view of our international policies.