Although my attention has been distracted for the past few days, I did hear Sen. Russ Feingold interviewed on WTMJ regarding his opposition to the John Doe amendment. His comments were - and there is really no room for debate on this - flat out wrong. The amendment does not change the "criminal law" (it makes minor changes in the civil law), it does not grant "complete immunity" to those who report suspicious activity and certainly wouldn't grant it to people who merely report someone "they don't like" or who is simply "praying." The thing wasn't done at the last minute, etc.
I suppose I could say that Sen. Feingold is unable to understand the amendment's language, but that can't be true. It's fairly simple and, even if it were not, Sen. Feingold is a well trained lawyer (he was a year or two ahead of me at Harvard and, for the year or so that he practiced, was at the same tony law firm that I worked at for 16 years.) It could be that he hasn't read it, but that proposition is scary and, happily, implausible. Legislators often don't (really can't) read everything that they vote on, but this doesn't seem like a case where that would happen.
So I'm still at a loss to figure it out. Is there a political dynamic that says he needs to take the most extreme "civil liberties" positions possible even if they make little sense? Does he need to be seen as opposing anything that the GOP proposes on the war on terror or that makes terrorism seem like a serious threat? Is CAIR an important Democratic constituency?
I still don't know.