Surveillance: Snowden NSA Controversy

The Shameful Revisionism of James Sensenbrenner: Special Europe Edition

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 7:31 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote this piece about the disgusting efforts of Rep. James Sensenbrenner to wash his hands of bulk metadata collection:

Reasonable people can disagree about NSA surveillance in general and about whether Congress should authorize or forbid bulk metadata collection in particular. I have never questioned the good faith of Senators Patrick Leahy, Ron Wyden, or Rand Paul. They are legislators with a perspective. That’s how Congress works.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner is a different matter.

Since the bulk metadata program broke, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has been on a campaign of denunciation of both agency activity under the Patriot Act—the law he helped write. And he has been denouncing the administration for having misled him about how Section 215 is being used too. He has done so with a breathtaking dishonesty that puts him in a different category from those members who have a policy dispute with the administration.

Here's a little update: Look who showed up at the European Parliament to complain about his own country's national security policies---the ones he helped write. From PJ Tatler:

The House Republican who became the legislative face of the Patriot Act after the 9/11 terrorist attacks was in Europe today telling the EU parliament that they need to rebuild trust and cooperation after the National Security Agency leaks that angered foreign governments.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) testified before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs at an inquiry hearing on the mass surveillance of EU citizens.

. . .

Sensenbrenner said the “constant stream of disclosures about US surveillance since June has surprised and appalled me as much as it has the American public and our international allies.”

. . .

The congressman told the EU that lawmakers here have “limited authority to stop the administration from spying on foreign leaders.” The program to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel was instituted by an executive order.

Sensenbrenner said “international cooperation is crucial to stopping terrorism, but trust is also integral.”

“I ask my friends in the European Parliament to work pragmatically with the United States to continue balanced efforts to protect our nations,” he said. “Together we can rebuild trust while defending civil liberties and national security on both sides of the Atlantic.”