Another shot fired from the author of the PATRIOT Act, and this one a lot more specific and aggressive than the one James Sensenbrenner launched in June. At that point, with the scope of the NSA’s domestic surveillance under Sensenbrenner’s law exposed, the former Congressman demanded an end to abuse of its provisions. Today, Sensenbrenner wants more concrete consequences, starting with prosecution of DNI James Clapper for lying to Congress (via Glenn Greenwald):
Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the original author of the Patriot Act, says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should be prosecuted for lying to Congress.
“Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.ADVERTISEMENT
He said the Justice Department should prosecute Clapper for giving false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.
Sensenbrenner’s first salvo came just a couple of days after Clapper’s earlier testimony came under fire. Clapper had been asked by Senator Ron Wyden in March whether NSA did bulk collection of American communications, and Clapper denied it. After getting caught, Clapper insisted that he gave the “least untruthful” answer possible in a public hearing. However, Wyden countered by revealing that he gave Clapper 24 hours warning on the question — and Clapper could have replied to it by asking for a closed session to discuss the scope of NSA surveillance.
Sensenbrenner isn’t impressed with Clapper’s excuse, either:
Sensenbrenner said that explanation doesn’t hold water and argued the courts and Congress depend on accurate testimony to do their jobs.
“The only way laws are effective is if they’re enforced,” Sensenbrenner said. “If it’s a criminal offense — and I believe Mr. Clapper has committed a criminal offense — then the Justice Department ought to do its job.”
Is the DoJ ready to “do its job” regarding Clapper and his testimony on the NSA? It probably depends on the result of the investigation ordered by Barack Obama into the scandal. The man in charge of that investigation is, of course, James Clapper. In fact, it’s been almost four months since Clapper received that assignment. Have we heard anything about that probe since? Not really, but we can certainly be confident that James Clapper will get to the bottom of what James Clapper knew about NSA surveillance and what James Clapper did to limit its reach against Americans.