Feingold was the only Senator to vote against The Patriot Act in October 2001, and was one of 23 Senators to vote against the Iraq War Resolution in 2002. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he has visited Iraq and Afghanistan twice, once with fellow Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton. Feingold advocates immediate withdrawal of the troops.
On how views have changed since the invasion
In terms of what the mood was in 2003 versus now in 2008, it's complicated because certainly there was some trepidation and concern on the part of some of us that going into Iraq didn't make sense, and that we could get stuck there as we have. I think most people thought it wasn't necessarily a great idea, but it would be relatively easy militarily and we wouldn't get stuck there. I think what we're seeing now is that it was a huge strategic mistake, that it is bleeding our nation of its resources and of our military strength and that it is really very different than what people thought it was going to be in 2003.
On the country's progress
Despite all the claims that are being made today, it looks to me that the situation is essentially no better, concerning the ability of this country to come together than it was when I was there in 2005 and 2006. The reconciliation has not occurred, and the prospects for the long term, I think, are not good unless we end our involvement there militarily in large part.
On his voters in Wisconsin
At almost all of the 32 listening sessions I've held this year, a couple people stand up and say, "Look, when are we getting the troops home?" And this is in some of the most conservative counties as well as more liberal counties. So I think people across the board in Wisconsin think this is a very unwise situation, and the notion that somehow the surge has made it all better is absurd to most people in my state. They can see the truth.
On the troop withdrawal
I think the question of what we say about leaving Iraq is very clear: It never made sense to be there in the first place. We should be addressing those that attacked us on 9/11. Everyone concedes that they are based and still operating and planning attacks against America primarily from Pakistan and Afghanistan and then sending them out all over the world.
On al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden
This mission was supposed to be originally going after al-Qaeda. And this is a diversion. Osama bin Laden said a couple of years ago in a speech that his strategy was to bankrupt America, that's how they would defeat us, and he's using Iraq for that very purpose. We're playing straight into their hands.