Stewart Baker "Privy" Award Nominations: Privacy Hypocrite of the Year

By Benjamin Wittes
Thursday, December 12, 2013, 1:30 PM

Last night, I posted a link to Stewart Baker's announcement of his Privy Award for “the stupidest, the most hypocritical, and the most power-serving uses of privacy law of the year.” Stewart has now posted his first slate of nominees---in the category of Privacy Hypocrite of the Year. I sure know whom I'll be voting for. Hint:

 c. James Sensenbrenner, U.S. House of Representatives

You Hid Information From Me By Disclosing It at Briefings I Refused to Attend


Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act was first enacted, but in 2013 he repudiated the telephone metadata that had been built on section 215.

Rep. Sensenbrenner complained that the program had been hidden from Congress:  “the NSA has cloaked its operations behind such a thick cloud of secrecy that, even if our trust was restored, Congress and the American people would lack the ability to verify it.”  Then it turned out that Justice Department witnesses appearing before the Judiciary Committee had made express references to the program in open testimony and to separate classified briefings offered to the members.  At which point, Rep. Sensenbrenner declared that he refused to attend most secret briefings because he didn’t want to bear the burden of protecting classified information.