by Personal Liberty News Desk
Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary, believes that Intelligence officials who lied to Congress about government spying during Congressional inquiry in March should be prosecuted.
Sensenbrenner was the original author of the PATRIOT Act, which opened the door for many of the surveillance abuses that the government carries out today. But recently the lawmaker has spent a great deal of time speaking out against the government’s surveillance efforts.
In an interview with The Hill this week, the lawmaker referenced Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s “not wittingly” answer to lawmakers when asked in the NSA spies on Americans. Clapper later described his response as the “least untruthful” answer he could give.
“Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview.
The lawmaker went on to note that Congress depends on accurate testimony in order to legislate. Furthermore, Sensenbrenner noted, Clappers position in government doesn’t give him the right to break the law.
“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.”
The lawmaker suggested that intelligence agencies with more concern for public privacy would exist under civilian leadership.
“The successor of both Clapper and [NSA Director Keith] Alexander ought to be civilians,” Sensenbrenner said.
“I think that civilians would be able to have a better balance in seeing the distinction between security and civil liberties.”
The lawmaker is currently backing the USA Freedom Act, which would place major limitations on government surveillance power.