National Security

Feingold: Against Increased Intel Efforts Before He Was for Them

Feingold, who opposed Patriot Act, calls for increased intelligence in wake of Paris attacks

Russ Feingold
Russ Feingold / AP

Russ Feingold, the one-time Democratic senator from Wisconsin running to reclaim his seat, has called for an increase in intelligence gathering following the Paris terrorist attacks despite consistently opposing previous efforts aimed at bolstering intelligence.

Feingold, who lost to Sen. Ron Johnson (R.) in 2010, said that no options should be left off the table in combating the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and that success depends on cooperative intelligence.

"While every option should be on the table—military, economic and diplomatic—the United States cannot repeat the mistakes of the past by responding to one crisis at a time solely with military action," Feingold said. "Friday's attacks are a reminder that ISIL threatens all of us, and that we can only succeed together, with our partners and allies, through cooperative intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts."

Feingold has not always been a supporter of boosting intelligence efforts.

He was the only senator from either party to initially vote against the Patriot Act in 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Additionally, Feingold voted against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and also against the "lone wolf" provision in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act in relation to permitting "wiretapping and surveillance of foreign terrorist suspects who operate alone."

Feingold said he did not regret being the only person to vote against the Patriot Act as recently as 2012.

"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 a sort of unique thing. I thought maybe I should read this thing," Feingold told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer while promoting his book, While America Sleeps: A Wake-Up Call for the Post-9/11 Era. "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."

A spokesman for the America Rising PAC said Feingold is now coming out for greater intelligence efforts because it’s what voters want to hear.

"Former Senator Feingold’s desperate attempt to say whatever he thinks voters want to here in the wake of the Paris attacks flies in the face of his dismal record on counterterrorism," said Amelia Chassé. "As the only senator from either party to oppose the Patriot Act and oppose extending protections against ‘lone wolf’ terrorists, Senator Feingold has a lot to answer for."

Feingold’s campaign did not return a request for comment.