Patriot Act Architect: No More Spying Unless My NSA Reform Bill Passes

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner warned government officials that they risk losing all spying authorization next year if his Freedom Act doesn’t pass Congress.

President Barack Obama looks through binoculars towards North Korea from Observation Post Ouellette during a visit to the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) near Panmunjom on the border between North and South Korea on March 25, 2012.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Feb. 4, 2014, 7:10 a.m.

Rep. Jim Sensen­bren­ner sent an­oth­er warn­ing shot Tues­day to mem­bers of the in­tel­li­gence com­munity that they risk los­ing all con­gres­sion­al au­thor­ity for the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s col­lec­tion of bulk tele­phone re­cords if his bill re­strict­ing the pro­gram is not passed.

Sensen­bren­ner, a Wis­con­sin Re­pub­lic­an, told Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­er­al James Cole dur­ing a House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing that Con­gress will not reau­thor­ize Sec­tion 215 of the post-9/11 Pat­ri­ot Act be­fore it sun­sets on June 1, 2015, if sub­stan­tial re­forms to gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance are not ad­op­ted by then. The NSA de­rives much of its sur­veil­lance power from that sec­tion of the law. He ad­ded that Con­gress would nev­er have passed or twice reau­thor­ized the Pat­ri­ot Act, which he au­thored, had it known the full breadth of the NSA’s sur­veil­lance muscle.

“Un­less Sec­tion 215 gets fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the in­tel­li­gence com­munity will get ab­so­lutely noth­ing, be­cause I am con­fid­ent there are not the votes in this Con­gress to reau­thor­ize it,” Sensen­bren­ner said. “And I can say that without qual­i­fic­a­tion.”

Cole re­fused to of­fer a po­s­i­tion on the bill when pressed by Sensen­bren­ner, not­ing that the Justice De­part­ment held no stance on NSA le­gis­la­tion pending in Con­gress.

Sensen­bren­ner has been cham­pi­on­ing his Free­dom Act since he in­tro­duced it late last year. He has re­peatedly con­demned the ad­min­is­tra­tions of both Pres­id­ent Obama and George W. Bush for tak­ing carte blanche liberty with their in­ter­pret­a­tion of the word “rel­ev­ant” in the Pat­ri­ot Act’s con­tro­ver­sial Sec­tion 215, which has come un­der in­tense scru­tiny in the wake of the Ed­ward Snowden leaks.

Sensen­bren­ner’s Free­dom Act would lim­it the bulk col­lec­tion of tele­phone metadata un­der Sec­tion 215; cre­ate a spe­cial ad­voc­ate to over­see the secret For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court; and re­quire the NSA to in­crease over­all trans­par­ency and ac­count­ab­il­ity. It cur­rently has 130 co­spon­sors and pos­sesses a mir­ror bill in the Sen­ate backed by Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Patrick Leahy.

Sensen­bren­ner also lam­basted a com­pet­ing bill offered by Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein, a Cali­for­nia Demo­crat, as a “joke” that wouldn’t ush­er in true re­form at the NSA, a com­mon cri­ti­cism lobbed at her pro­pos­al by pri­vacy and civil-liberty ad­voc­ates.

What We're Following See More »
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Variety Looks at How Michelle Obama Has Leveraged Pop Culture
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

“My view is, first you get them to laugh, then you get them to listen," says Michelle Obama in a new profile in Variety. "So I’m always game for a good joke, and I’m not so formal in this role. There’s very little that we can’t do that people wouldn’t appreciate.” According to writer Ted Johnson, Mrs. Obama has leveraged the power of pop culture far beyond her predecessors. "Where are the people?" she asks. "Well, they’re not reading the op-ed pieces in the major newspapers. They’re not watching Sunday morning news talk shows. They’re doing what most people are doing: They are watching TV.”

Source:
RUSSIAN HACKERS LIKELY BEHIND THE ATTACKS
New York Times, Other News Organizations Hacked
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The FBI and other US security agencies are currently investigating a series of computer breaches found within The New York Times and other news organizations. It is expected that the hacks were carried out by individuals working for Russian intelligence. It is believed that these cyber attacks are part of a "broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said."

Source:
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENTS PETITIONED
NLRB: Graduate Students Can Unionize
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a 3-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Columbia University graduate students, granting them the legal right to unionize. The petition was brought by a number of teaching assistants enrolled in graduate school. This decision could pave the way for thousands of new union members, depending on if students at other schools nationwide wish to join unions. A number of universities spoke out in opposition to this possibility, saying injecting collective bargaining into graduate school could create a host of difficulties.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
×