When Sen. Russ Feingold (D.-Wis.) returned to Wisconsin last week after introducing his resolution to censure President Bush for ordering the National Security Agency to intercept communications in and out of the U.S. by persons with suspected links to al Qaeda, he wanted to make one thing perfectly clear to his home-state constituents: He, too, favors intercepting communications in and out of the U.S. by persons with suspected links to al Qaeda.
"If you were on the phone with an al Qaeda person, I support your being wiretapped, all the time, for a long time," Feingold told a town meeting in Belle Plaine, Wis., the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. "… I support wiretapping every single person who is working with a terrorist. Just do it within the law. That’s all we ask." Feingold’s explanation, of course, is disingenuous. The President does have legal authority for eavesdropping on al Qaeda — from both the Sept. 14, 2001, war resolution that Feingold voted for and from the Constitution itself, which empowers the President to defend the nation against attack.
Meanwhile, only two Democrats have thus far signed up to co-sponsor Feingold’s censure resolution: Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.).