The politics of privacy and terrorism have been scrambled in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks — so scrambled that one political committee couldn't decide whether or not one of the Democrats' top Senate candidates was vulnerable. On Thursday, The Washington Post reported on the criticism of National Security Agency reformers that came from hawkish Republicans and the director of the CIA, and noted that "this week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee attacked former senator Russ Feingold (Wis.) anew for his 2001 vote against the Patriot Act."

That drew a request for correction from Andrea Bozek, the NRSC's communication director. "We have not attacked Russ Feingold on the PATRIOT Act," she wrote in an e-mail, suggesting that errant information came from National Journal's Josh Kraushaar. "I assume your source for that was Josh's tweet, which he corrected. Always happy to talk so you don't have to use other reporters tweets as your sources. Please let me know when you can update your story."

That was not the source. The NRSC had actually included two stories about Feingold and the Patriot Act in Morning Business, its daily e-mail blast to reporters. On Nov. 18, the e-mail pointed to a story in the conservative Washington Free Beacon that in the NRSC's words "note[d] that Senator Feingold – who opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, was against increased intel efforts before he was for them." That story made several references to the Patriot Act vote. On Nov. 19, the day of the Post's story, the e-mail directed reporters to a column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that "call[ed] into question Senator Feingold's bad bet on intelligence." The column, by Christian Schneider, was mostly about the Patriot Act.

The Post responded to Bozek's correction request with citations of the Morning Business e-mails, and a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the committee was not reading what it sent out.

"Well," wrote Bozek, "it is good to know that by linking to an article that counts as us 'attacking' a candidate. Again happy to talk anytime you want to use us to backup your established narrative."

In 2004, the first Senate election after Feingold's Patriot Act vote, the senator won by his biggest-ever margin. The vote did not become much of an issue in the tea party-dominated elections of 2010, when Feingold lost his Senate seat to Republican Ron Johnson. In sparse polling of the expected 2016 rematch, Feingold leads Johnson by around 11 points.