PATRIOT Act Author Says James Clapper Should Be Fired And Prosecuted; Plans Law To Stop NSA Overreach

from the better-late-than-never dept

We’ve written a few times about how the author of the PATRIOT Act, Jim Sensenbrenner, has insisted that the bill was written specifically to prevent the kind of datamining we now know the NSA pretends the law authorized. However, as some have pointed out, for a decade, plenty of people have directly raised these kinds of concerns (without knowing the specifics of what the NSA was doing) to Sensenbrenner about how “his” PATRIOT Act could be abused — and he brushed them off or ignored it every single time.

However, now that he seems to realize what’s happening (though, without apologizing for his earlier attacks on those who raised questions about the PATRIOT Act), he’s finally getting ready to introduce new legislation, dubbed the USA Freedom Act, to try to clearly restrain the activities of the NSA. According to the Guardian, who has seen a draft of the bill, the bill will do a few things:

It seeks to limit the collection of phone records to known terrorist suspects; to end “secret laws” by making courts disclose surveillance policies; to create a special court advocate to represent privacy interests; and to allow companies to disclose how many requests for users’ information they receive from the USA. The bill also tightens up language governing overseas surveillance to remove a loophole which it has been abused to target internet and email activities of Americans.

All of these are good things — and all are items that we’ve been focusing on for quite some time. Plus, there’s this:

Sensenbrenner also called for the prosecution of Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who admitted misleading the Senate intelligence committee about the extent of bulk collection of telephone records.

“Oversight only works when the agency that oversight is directed at tells the truth, and having Mr Clapper say he gave the least untruthful answer should, in my opinion, have resulted in a firing and a prosecution,” said the congressman.

While it may have taken a bit too long in our opinion, it’s good to see Rep. Sensenbrenner taking a strong stand against the Intelligence Communities abuses. Hopefully, the next time civil liberties advocates raise issues like this, he won’t be so dismissive.

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Comments on “PATRIOT Act Author Says James Clapper Should Be Fired And Prosecuted; Plans Law To Stop NSA Overreach”

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Crusty the Ex-Clown says:

Fifth Columnists

The terrorists won. Since 9/11 we’ve turned to terrorizing ourselves. And the worst offenders have essentially brainwashed themselves into believing that their reign of terror is necessary to protect us from someone else’s reign of terror. In reasoning thusly they have, unintentionally, become fifth columnists.

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of a passionate intensity.”

– W.B. Yeats

Brazenly Anonymous says:

Re: Fifth Columnists

We’re losing, but have the terrorists really won?

If we win this fight, they may also win, but maybe we shouldn’t have antagonized the cornered squirrels to begin with.

It should be noted that terrorism can only function as a defensive tool, similar in nature to Mutually Assured Destruction. When used defensively, terrorism can (when it succeeds) divide an enemy by raising the costs for those who stand to gain the least. When used offensively, it only unifies the enemy by emphasizing the horror of the threat.

Middle East win condition: US stops interference in middle east.

US citizen win condition: US surveillance operations terminated. Terror strategy terminated.

US government win condition: Control of oil, control of population.

Middle East strategy: The enemy of my enemy is a powerful tool that doesn’t exist, lets make some.

US government counter-strategy: Surveillance, which plays right into the strategy of terrorism.

We can choose to back the government in a fight that will cost us far more than we would gain, but also renders the terror tactic unlikely to be attempted again, or we can choose to pull the government out of that fight. Whichever choice we make, the surveillance program needs to go.

Anonymous Coward says:

it doesn’t matter who raises concerns over whatever law and the way it could be taken/used, there are always people that shout you down, particularly those who are championing the bill. instead of being so keen to bring something into law, put some time aside to listen to those peoples concerns and above all stop lobbying! that is the single, most used means available to get something forced through a vote, even when some voting know what the consequences will be. it’s about time more notice was taken of objectors. look at what has happened because of the entertainment industries and the way their every whim has been adhered to, every wish been granted.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Instead of putting lipstick on a pig, why
> don’t we repeal the patriot act and stop
> with all these bullshit USA Nation Freedom
> ‘Merical Named bills?

If I could, I’d get an amemdnment passed to the Constitution forbidding Congress from naming bills. It would require that they referenced by number only: H.B. 1472, S.B. 1188, etc.

It would end this ridiculous charade of them giving bills names that no politician wants to vote against, even if they think the underlying law will be bad for the country. Who wants to be the guy who voted against “patriotism” or “safe children”, even if the damn thing has nothing to do with the name it carries?

It’s a thinly-disguised tool of legislative blackmail and it needs to stop.

Edgar Allen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

My choice for an Amendment would establish a fourth branch of government, elected for only one year, no salary, limited to five terms in one lifetime, no more than two consecutive with each other.

Its only job would to repeal laws/regulations/rulings of the other three branches.

Maybe then the monied interests would have some unhappy citizens to answer to.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

?Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be his world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.?
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

We’ve created our own monster, and it his high time we gather up our torches and pitchforks…er letters and calls and storm the mad Baron’s castle.

Doctor Waldman: You have created a monster, and it will destroy you!

Anonymous Coward says:


I really don’t care if he apologizes or not for the Patriot Act. Verbal apologies are merely empty words that do nothing about the damages already done. What matters are future actions which at least appear at face value to be a change of heart on his part. If he continues on this new path and follows through with fixing the problem he contributed significantly to, then I will have to say to Rep. Sensenbrenner, “Welcome back from the dark side. Now, publicly endorse and make a sizeable contribution to both the EFF and the ACLU and join them. Oh, and one more thing: don’t EVER pull any crap like this again.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re

Feinstein, Rogers and Pelosi need to simply loose their positions – not removed from office necessarily as they were elected by their constituencies, but rather their positions on the related committees. However, as I have said from the beginning, Clapper and Alexander need to be charged and prosecuted, not just for lying to Congress but rather with civil and human rights violations.

Kevin Stapp (profile) says:

Too little to do any real good

This legislation, like many of this kind, is like putting a bandaid on a severed limb. The issue isn’t limited to the collection of phone data – the NSA is clearly siphoning up much more than even Snowden’s leaks have exposed. What America needs is a comprehensive business records privacy bill that prevents the government from peering into to our private business transactions as well as our personal communications without probable cause. Such legislation should include criminal penalties for companies sharing business record information that isn’t normally provided to comply with laws and regulations.

In addition, should the government obtain business record information via a warrant that is later determined to not be germain to the matter under investigation then the government should be required to report the extent of the records obtained to the affected parties and to destroy all those records.

Anonymous Coward says:

if you write a bill that is passed how does that give you more power (or opinion) over that now passed bill than any other polly ?

You’re not ‘put in charge’ of that bill, you have no special powers over that bill.
Just because someone contributes to a bill, does not make it ‘their baby’ they are also aware that the world will change (but the bill will not), that is expected.

If he feels that strongly about it, let him write ANOTHER BILL, and see if he can get it passed by Congress and ratified. Bitching about past bills you help write is not what their job is.

I don’t see this person writing another bill and submitting it.
He might not like it, but he does not, not like it enough to prompt him to DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.
When he presents another bill, or proposes an amendment, and it is passed and ratified.
Then it’s news, now it’s noise.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Patriot Act has been the biggest attack on freedom since this nation was founded. Which is very obvious to me, hell it should be obvious to every single American.

The road to government imposed tyranny, oppression,and absolute corruption is paved with good intentions. “I’m an atheist” Sooner or later Americans will wake up as slaves and I really hope I’m not around for that day.

We’re on the fast track to another civil war that our children or their children. It’s one battle that should not happen and I really hope it doesn’t.

Andi says:

The Clif's Notes Version...

Recognizing that it absolutely looks like he KNEW that the Patriot Act would be used for data mining due to his refusal to address the concerns at the time (and how could he not know…?), Rep. Sensenbrenner has decided to write a new bill that will purportedly rein in the NSA and it’s data-seeking activities. Of course, the good Representative knows good and well that by the time said bill were to get through both houses of Congress and land on the President’s desk, it will be so watered down as to be unrecognizable in its intent that it couldn’t rein in a seahorse in the display at SeaWorld. But at least he’ll save face in front of all the low-information people in this country.

It’s kind of pathetic, really. All he really had to do is remind people that most of the meaty stuff in the Patriot Act was written in 1996 by one “Uncle” Joe Biden, and most people would have been easily directed to the proper target.

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