During an appearance Wednesday on CNN, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said he "absolutely" did not regret being the only Senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"That was probably one of the best things I've ever done," he said.
Civil liberties advocates have condemned the anti-terrorism law because it allows authorities to conduct surveillance without identifying the person or location to be wiretapped, permits surveillance of non-U.S. persons who are not affiliated with a terrorist group, and allows law enforcement to gain access to “any tangible thing” during terrorism investigations.
"It was a difficult thing," Feingold added. "And I could kind of see, like the late Bob Novak said, it included an old wishlist of the FBI. Things that didn't have to do with terrorism. Like going after people's library records, who had done absolutely nothing wrong."
He said politicians used the fear of terrorists to grab for power and manipulate domestic politics.
In May of 2011, Obama signed into law a four-year extension of the PATRIOT Act after it had drawn criticism from an unusual alliance of liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans.
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