[Fellow UW Grad] Tim Russert: You were—used the word redeployed. John Burns, the bureau chief in Baghdad for The New York Times, who’s lived there for some time, offered these words this week: “It seems to me incontrovertible that the most likely outcome of an American withdrawal any time soon would be cataclysmic violence. And I find that to be widely agreed” among “Iraqis, including Iraqis who strongly opposed the invasion.” Is—are you concerned that we leave behind violence, catastrophe, genocide?
SEN. FEINGOLD: Let’s be clear what we have now. We now have cataclysmic violence. That’s the status quo. It is possible that things would get worse if we left; it is possible that things would get better. But this is what I believe: Right now we’re holding the bag in Iraq. The other countries in the region—Iran, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait—they have an interest in stability in Iraq because, if what you say will happen, it will cause great instability in their countries and danger for them. The only way we get them engaged, the only way they put up the money and the resources to stabilize this situation is if we stop what they consider to be an occupation of Iraq. So I think the only way to avoid the situation getting worse is for us to orderly redeploy our troops and get these other countries engaged in what is in their own interest, which is a stable Iraq.
Tim Russert: Last year you introduced a resolution to censure the president regarding the wiretapping of Americans within the U.S. under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. You got three other Democrats to join with you. Just four Democrats. Isn’t this the futile effort that will be described simply as politics?
Sen. Feingold: Well, let’s see what actually happened, Tim. What happened was, after I introduced the censure resolution, there was a lot of talk that didn’t mean anything. But what did the administration do? They stopped this TSP program. They brought it within the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. When they saw that there was sentiment in this country and almost every legal scholar saying that their idea that they could just make up their own laws was wrong, they brought it within the program. So I think it had a very positive impact. And it sets the stage for setting the historical record here, which is that this administration has done the greatest assault on our Constitution perhaps in American history.
Sen. Feingold: “Well, there’s a lot of sentiment in the country, even the polls show it, for actually impeaching the president and the vice president. I think that they have committed impeachable offenses with regard to this terrorist surveillance program and making up their own program. What I am proposing is a moderate course, not tying up the Senate and the House with an impeachment trial, but simply passing resolutions that make sure that the historical record shows the way they have weakened our country, weakened our country militarily and against al-Qaeda, and weakened our country’s fundamental document, the Constitution. I think that’s a reasonable course and does not get in the way of our normal work. But the American people are outraged at the way they’ve been treated. They are outraged at the dishonesty that they have been subjected to. The American people—we deserve better than the way we’ve been treated, and somehow this has to be reflected.”
Reason #467 to love Sen. Russ Feingold