In light of the San Bernardino, CA terrorist attack and mounting public concern about the government’s ability to stop such “lone wolf” attacks, Russ Feingold has been attempting to rewrite his record of opposing legislation that would allow the government greater freedom to go after such terrorists.
In a recent interview on Up Front with Mike Gousha, Feingold reiterated his alleged support for such legislation, “I support having more resources for the FBI to be able to do more investigations. What happened was San Bernardino – by the way, they weren’t inspired by ISIS, they were inspired by Al Qaeda. What happened is that people were having an opportunity to do things that were not working. What happened was, the FBI had to shift the resources, law enforcement had to shift the resources away from the current investigation to go after the San Bernardino investigation. The answer here is more resources.”
Ignored in his claim that the FBI needed more resources is the fact that when he was in the Senate, Feingold was at best inconsistent when it came to giving the law enforcement community the resources it needs to go after lone wolf terrorists.
In 2004, Feingold voted “yea” on the Intelligence Reform And Terrorism Prevention (IRTPA) bill. This bill not only created a director of national intelligence that would oversee all U.S. Intelligence agencies but it also gave the new director greater latitude to pursue so called “lone wolf” terrorists.
This act changed the definition of “‘agent of a foreign power’ to include any person who engages in international terrorism or activities in preparation for such terrorism.” Previously this definition had only applied to persons who had a direct connection with foreign powers.
Even though Feingold voted affirmative in the initial approval of this provision, he followed that withthree votes against the provision he had previously approved.
In February 2006 he became the only Senator to vote against extending the lone wolf provision of the IRTPA, which allowed for wiretapping and surveillance of foreign terrorist suspects who operated alone, as part of extending the sunset provision of certain aspects of the PATRIOT act.
Despite Feingold’s vote, the sunset provision passed and was brought up for vote again in March 2006 where he again voted against it.
In December 2010 the lone wolf provision again came before the Senate as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. Feingold again voted against giving law enforcement the tools they needed to defend the country against lone wolf terrorists.
For all of his rhetoric as he runs around Wisconsin looking to get his old job back, the fact is when Russ Feingold had a chance in the U.S. Senate to vote in favor of stopping lone wolf terrorists, he voted to tie the hands of law enforcement.