Key Fighter For Civil Liberties, Russ Feingold, Running To Return To The Senate

from the good-news dept

We've pointed out for years how strong a supporter of civil liberties Senator Ron Wyden has been, but the one guy who probably had an even stronger record on that front was Senator Russ Feingold. Feingold was the only Senator who consistently voted against the PATRIOT Act and increases to government surveillance. In fact he was the only Senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act in the first place. And, at that time, he gave a speech in which he accurately predicted how the NSA would abuse the PATRIOT Act:
And under this new provisions all business records can be compelled, including those containing sensitive personal information like medical records from hospitals or doctors, or educational records, or records of what books someone has taken out of the library. This is an enormous expansion of authority, under a law that provides only minimal judicial supervision.

Under this provision, the government can apparently go on a fishing expedition and collect information on virtually anyone. All it has to allege in order to get an order for these records from the court is that the information is sought for an investigation of international terrorism or clandestine intelligence gathering. That's it. On that minimal showing in an ex parte application to a secret court, with no showing even that the information is relevant to the investigation, the government can lawfully compel a doctor or hospital to release medical records, or a library to release circulation records. This is a truly breathtaking expansion of police power.
If anything, Feingold underestimated how this provision would be used, because even he didn't predict it would be used to have phone companies hand over every record on every phone call. Feingold was also the first to raise the alarm about "secret interpretations" of the law, well before others started pointing that out as well.

Thus it was ridiculous and disappointing to see Feingold voted out of office in the 2010 "Tea Party" wave. He lost to Senator Ron Johnson, a Tea Party favorite... who went on to vote in favor of key bills to expand the spying power of the intelligence community.

Feingold has now announced that he wants that Senate seat back, and will be challenging Johnson in the 2016 election:
"[L]et’s fight together for change. That means helping to bring back to the U.S. Senate strong independence, bipartisanship and honesty," Feingold said in a video announcing his campaign. "So today I'm pleased to announce that I'm planning to run for the United States Senate in 2016. And this effort begins with listening to you. "
His announcement didn't mention anything about surveillance or civil liberties, but considering his track record on that front, he would be an important addition to the Senate on these key issues -- especially since we lost Senator Mark Udall in the last election, after he had picked up many of the civil liberties issues that Feingold used to champion.

Filed Under: civil liberties, patriot act, ron johnson, russ feingold, senate


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2015 @ 7:16am

    When stuff like this happens and civil liberties senators are voted out of office (such as Udall) I just assume the NSA had something to do with it (leaking some "sensitive" material to the press, etc).

    I thin the NSA/GCHQ had something to do with the Tories winning again in UK, too, while the only party that opposed mass surveillance got crushed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Edward Teach, 15 May 2015 @ 11:00am

      Aye, Mate!

      Arrr! Ye be thinkin the same thoughts as me, mate! Udall's replacement Gardner will have nothing to do with complaints about NSA snooping, despite flying the flag of "limited government" and "not voting the party line" in his annoying commercials.

      We'll be able to test the "Intelligence Community Interference" theory when Ron Wyden comes up for re-election.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Teamchaos (profile), 15 May 2015 @ 7:30am

    I wouldn't get too excited...

    The last time a senator won back his seat after loosing it was over 70 years ago. The last time it occurred was in 1934 in Rhode Island when Democrat Peter Gerry defeated Republican Felix Hebert after losing the seat to Hebert six years earlier.

    It should be an interesting race.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2015 @ 8:38am

    As much as I hate the status quo in the federal government, our (Wisconsin's) two newby Senators have, IMHO, pretty much bombed out for one reason or another (tho I think both were elected less for their stated policies and more as a reaction to what was going on at the time). I'm fairly certain that Russ will get elected again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Teamchaos (profile), 15 May 2015 @ 12:18pm

    Non-partisan?

    Posting what amounts to a campaign ad for a liberal democrat senate candidate doesn't help Techdirt's claim to be non-partisan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 15 May 2015 @ 9:49pm

      Re: Non-partisan?

      I think you may be confusing TD with the 'Fair and balanced' Fox 'News'. Those that write for TD have opinions, they admit this, and they generally have no problem expressing those opinions.

      In this case they are showing support for a 'liberal democrat', but I don't imagine that has much to do with his political leanings, so much as his stance on the mass spying going on in the US. If the person was a conservative republican, yet also supported the same stances with regards to mass spying, I imagine the message of support would be the same, as the label a person uses means nothing compared to what they do, and to a lesser extent what they say.

      As evidence, consider the fact that before your comment I had no idea what party the individual in question belonged to. Why? Because nowhere in the article is it even mentioned, as it does not matter.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Teamchaos (profile), 16 May 2015 @ 3:19pm

        Re: Re: Non-partisan?

        If things are as you imagine, I look forward to the TD posting that endorses a republican.

        My issue is that TD claims to be non-partisan but tends to laud democrats and lambaste republicans.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 16 May 2015 @ 9:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: Non-partisan?

          My issue is that TD claims to be non-partisan...

          Given they don't even bother to list party affiliation unless it's somehow important to the story, believing it to be meaningless, instead focusing on what people are saying and/or doing, I'd say that would be true, even if I've never seen a statement where those who write for TD specifically say that they are non-partisan.

          ...but tends to laud democrats and lambaste republicans.

          Probably because of their actions. If the democrats are, more often than not, acting in a manner that those who write for TD support, and the republicans aren't, then of course they're going to seem to be supporting the democrats and being critical of the republicans. That has nothing to do with party affiliation however, and everything to do with what the individuals in question are doing and saying.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Pragmatic, 18 May 2015 @ 6:19am

          Re: Re: Re: Non-partisan?

          Then Republicans need to behave better.

          TD occasionally bashes Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein for a) rubber-stamping NSA spying on the US population without a warrant, b) being a giant hypocrite when she discovered that she and her staff had been on the receiving end, and c) her husband makes money off of this.

          It's not a partisan thing, it's a douchebag-bashing thing. When they behave badly, we call them out.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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