While America Sleeps
Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) talks with Alan about his years in Washington, including his opposition to the Iraq war.
- Duration 10:46
- Date Feb 23, 2012
Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) talks with Alan about his years in Washington, including his opposition to the Iraq war.
Also in this playlist...
This transcript is automatically generated
-- -- don't want to welcome your microphone former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold he's just written while America's leaves.
The wake up call for the post 9/11 -- senator thank you so much excellent and I preach.
You know remotely and so.
At least see the debate tonight.
No I was giving a speech over new school in New York but I was certainly encouraging people who watch the debate to see.
The tennis but they're putting out.
Now I know you come under fire a little bit to -- used as a negative things about the -- -- on his committee and when you're in Europe.
You're working with them -- -- -- people don't seem to understand you can disagree and a couple of things -- overwhelmingly support somebody because -- there's no perfect candidate.
I don't know what planet people come from we don't get it it if you agree -- somebody 95% of the time.
And disagree that sometimes if you express that hoping to persuade them that's what mature adults do.
And President Obama gets that he knows that I disagree with -- on the surge in Afghanistan.
And that we need to do more and civil liberties and that we need to stay away from super -- And the other and he knows and I'm proud to be his.
Cosponsor and there are one of the people in this campaign because he isn't perfect had been a very good president I think you want to be a great president.
He's done more to improve our reputation around the world to get health care through the economy is improving mean overall I'm thrilled to be supporting him but.
You know if I disagree with them -- -- -- so.
When -- -- -- Republican debates and then I hear the audience reaction I think in some kind of alternate universe the fact we're still debating birth control in the year twentieth well.
It's amazing to me.
Well it's just sad and you know we have real problems we have real domestic problems my book -- -- -- is about the fact that we have real international problem.
There were sort of forgetting about the lessons of 9/11 and as a as -- people not as Republicans -- Democrats.
We need to do something to figure out what's going on the rest of the world not just pretend.
That it's gonna go away.
And instead the Republicans just have these squabbles and want to talk about these social issues.
Our problems are serious and and as Americans we need to come together and get serious about those.
Let's talk about civilization -- -- always admired about you you stood -- for things that even mean members of your own party would not -- the only senator devoted against the Patriot Act.
-- the first senators have proposed timetable to get out of Iraq.
You're right about the Patriot Act and I continue to be disappointed the both the democratic president we have and the democratic house -- senate continue to support.
Well you know I'm pleased that we are finally getting out of Iraq if -- have been much sooner.
I want the president to accelerate what appears to be his new thinking that Afghanistan doesn't make sense and opposed the surge.
You know the idea is to go after those who -- part of al-Qaeda.
Who -- -- -- who who may try to protect.
It's much more sensible to work with the governments in places like North Africa and Somalia.
And in places like Nigeria to make sure without invading a country that we go after those that are trying to hurt us.
And not have these.
-- intervention to always stay forever.
I make a comparison in my book while America sleeps to the game of risk which you may have played you know -- -- -- -- kids.
Which is sort of the rule is that when you invade a country you have to -- -- you have to keep some -- troops there.
That's kind of the approach we've taken -- foreign policy instead of a nimble and effective and well informed.
Approach and I actually think President Obama gets that and will be implemented in a much more effective way particularly in his second term.
One of things we see in these -- the Republican debates is can you top this about who's going to be tougher on Iran -- Ron Paul perhaps been the most extreme.
Saying that was they're not really a threat and you know the more we threaten them the more likely they gonna wanna respond to that threat.
And -- you've got the other people who warhawks who were saying well you know.
This it's going to be apocalyptic said Rick Santorum tonight.
If the -- reelected because they're gonna get a nuclear weapon which is he's gonna fear tactics really -- fall between those two sides of this issue.
Well I I agree with the president that we can't allow.
Iran to become a nuclear power.
But that doesn't mean you sort of accelerated make the only alternative and attack the reason they're doing that is that the only way these guys the Republican side can think.
-- in terms of an intervention or a manhunt.
-- they don't seem to be able to think in terms of using different levers of influence and power -- sanctions and persuading other countries like Indonesia and India to help us persuade.
-- -- it's not to go down that road.
That's what a mature and intelligent country does in the 20% tree.
They wanna go back to what seems like almost a cro -- -- approach to foreign policy.
Which means that they basically want to invade countries.
And it's all about the military it's all about war you know what that cost -- blood and treasure in this country it's not the best way to go.
And it would be I think a terrible thing if we.
Had one of these people running the country and that -- Barack Obama.
But -- former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold of new book is called while America -- a wake up call for the post 9/11 era and they go to this in great detail in your book -- how is it.
That we allowed ourselves to be bamboozled into -- war in Iraq into content policies after nine elevenths.
That often had nothing to do with the actual threat -- we experience in the ten years later we're still fighting or getting turning that is some of those policies that we've allowed this to happen I don't.
It was really strange being in Washington there's during this time you know I went home every weekend when I was in the senate did town meeting and the contrast between the mood in the understanding of the situation.
In a place like like Wisconsin vs Washington was unbelievable what happened after 9/11 is to Washington was for like an armed camp.
You know everything we its huge barriers everywhere -- serious concerns and corals all the time about.
Possible terrorist we have the anthrax attack.
My office along with senator -- was the only office -- staff members were actually tested positive but it was a fearful thing.
That we hit the DC sniper in a right around the time we voted for the Iraq War the mood in Washington was so tense.
In late 2002.
The people were ready to believe just about anything something as silly as.
Believing that this Saddam Hussein was in cahoots and some of them -- nor that.
That he had weapons of mass destruction he wanted to use them so I argue in my book that from a point you history.
And had a lot to do with this specific environment in BC.
That infected the better judgments -- a lot of people who actually knew better.
That's that's really seven we had a vice presidential candidate on the Republican side to somehow believe that that Saddam Hussein was -- -- 9/11 -- -- this is a pathetic it is.
-- also the issue of Islam and the way this whole religion has been besmirch.
But people also should know better.
In this country and they become.
You know we have moment so many Muslims and will serve in the United States armed forces.
And in -- sacrifice their lives on 9/11.
Mean this is just discrimination and -- it's it's totally wrong in America.
And while America's -- to read a chapter called morphing Islam into al-Qaeda.
And we did not really do that at the beginning of this process the president President Bush and got aircraft and others to -- good job of -- Do not use 9/11 as an occasion to victimize and -- bias.
Toward air Americans and Muslim Americans in the last couple years things have gone the other way.
And -- back to talking about Koran burning which was awful but talking about this insane idea that you can't have a mosque in southern Manhattan.
Yeah but the people who brought down the -- happen to be Islamic I'm talking about hearings but Peter King.
That are simply -- reminders of McCarthyism specifically focusing on one religion one group of people.
With regard terrorism I think they are reminiscent.
Of the treatment of Japanese Americans in World War II -- -- one of the darkest hours in the history of our country.
And so this is something we need to reverse immediately we have so many valuable.
Citizens in this country are Muslim and Arab and they -- made being made to feel unwelcome and like strangers and that's a great loss per country and you know picking a fight with a billion people in the world for no no specific reason this is a very good idea.
Also -- left as big of a Japanese in World War II in the internment camps which we apologized.
And the issue of waterboarding which was not acceptable then but all of a sudden somehow that somehow unacceptable form.
Of torture to and large -- of our population.
Rendering to prisons that we should not be doing -- we cannot have our hands clean supposedly on -- torture issue another black mark on our on our.
Our own well being is a moral nation.
But what if waterboarding was wrong when it was done in the inquisition.
And if it is wrong to do it now.
In this notion that there was put up by Cheney and others.
That we -- some of these people who got -- -- bin Laden by waterboarding is frankly wrong I was on the intelligence committee.
And as John McCain is that.
That is not the reason we were able to get this information waterboarding.
Is not the reason that's a lot.
And yet the right wing in this country wants to make people believe that somehow waterboarding which is wrong in this illegal is the way that we got bin -- it's simply fall.
As a member of the intelligence committee were you privy to information that there were we able to see that they would like cherry picking going on -- -- that really informed our policy certainly in the wrong manner.
What what what they do is this sort of make a statement in and -- make another statement that actually seem to fit together but if you look at them closely you do not prove.
In any way shape or form that the actual torture was effective.
There is not proof of that.
Nor was there proof that Iran was a threat and America rock at the time was a threat current.
Right when I went to a CIA briefings I realized first of all the notion of what weapons of mass destruction they had was exaggerated.
The ability of Saddam Hussein to actually get those weapons to us -- to other countries was exaggerated.
And the notion that Saddam Hussein was getting ready to actually use these against the United States.
Was basically rejected by the CIA people who were there they said no -- we don't believe that's what's -- what he's planning to do.
So and all recount I was not persuaded when -- actually listened to the intelligence people who seem to be saying.
Despite their bosses and President Bush's idea they seem to be saying it's not a very good idea.
Did you feel like a voice crying at the -- -- and then you one of the few people pulling them on the south but not a lot of other representatives senators war.
As a sad moment I mean we've stated some company and like USA Patriot Act but a majority of democratic senators voted for it and it was a majority United States senate democratic majority.
That voted to put us into that Iraq War and that's something the Democrats have to remember is that we were involved in this is well we should not about.
How much pressure was on you to conform.
Well I mean it was enormous pressure in general audience I as my colleague knew I did not.
To -- that kind of pressure because I was looking at what I actually heard and what I think my constituents would really believe.
So there was pressure and I saw others who especially wanted to run for president.
Succumb to that pressure and that fear but you know that is really one of the worst chapters in our modern history voting for that war.