Currently a member of the House of Representatives (Wisconsin’s 5th District), Jim Sensenbrenner authored the controversial PATRIOT Act that was made law following the attacks of September 11th. Since then, however, he has seriously changed his tune. In the last few years he has spoken out more and more about the abuse of power by American intelligence agencies and their increasingly insidious surveillance tactics.
Recently, Sensenbrenner spoke to a gathering of the European Union Parliament to discuss some of these issues. Here are some quotes from that speech:
“Congress knew the country needed new tools and broader authorities to combat those who meant to harm us, but we never intended to allow the National Security Agency to peer indiscriminately into the lives of innocent people all over the world.”
“I firmly believe the Patriot Act saved lives by strengthening the ability of intelligence agencies to track and stop potential terrorists, but in the past few years, the National Security Agency has weakened, misconstrued and ignored the civil liberty protections we drafted into the law,”
adding that the NSA,
“ignored restrictions painstakingly crafted by lawmakers and assumed a plenary authority we never imagined.”
“Worse, the NSA has cloaked its operations behind such a thick cloud of secrecy that, even if the NSA promised reforms, we would lack the ability to verify them.”
Sensenbrenner has also recently introduced legislation that would drastically curtail the NSA’s activities (though he admitted that Congress had little authority over American spying on foreign countries), and called for not only the firing but the prosecution of the National Director of Intelligence, James Clapper.
Rep. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner