Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold cast the only disent when the Senate approved the Patriot Act only six weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks. With a possible successor in the wings, he is hearing fears from constituents as he holds town meetings. Kathryn Severance, a retired business professor, asked Feingold to stop the Patriot II proposal, a draft law which would broaden the powers of the FBI and other agencies to crack down on potential terrorists, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“It’s our civil rights,” Severance told Feingold. “People can be incarcerated without their family knowing. That’s what they did in Iraq. And didn’t we just get finished bombing that place to smithereens?”
Two surveys in the past year suggest that a significant number of Americans are concerned about the government infringing on their civil rights. Patriot II has yet to be introduced or even debated in Congress, but concerns are spreading thanks to word of mouth and the Internet.
Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock said the draft bill that was obtained by a watchdog group called the Center for Public Integrity is no longer “the operative draft.” She said no decisions have been made about offering a Patriot II bill.