WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the architect of the Patriot Act, has urged authorities to prosecute Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying to Congress.
The Wisconsin Republican told The Hill that the Justice Department should bring charges against Clapper for his false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.
“Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it,” he said. “The only way laws are effective is if they’re enforced. 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 call for Clapper’s prosecution came as President Barack Obama revealed in an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews” that he plans to introduce curbs on the National Security Agency to guard against unwarranted snooping in Americans’ private affairs.
During the intelligence hearing, Clapper was asked by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., whether the NSA collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper replied that NSA does “not wittingly” gather information from Americans in general.
But thousands of documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden have proved that the agency collects bulk records of phone calls and Internet data on virtually every American.
Clapper has since claimed that he was attempting to give the “least untruthful” answer that would not disclose classified information about the agency’s work. He has since apologized to Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, for his “clearly erroneous” statement to Congress.
Sensenbrenner, also demanded that Obama should fire Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, and NSA Director Keith Alexander over the spying revelations and replace them with civilians.
“The successor of both Clapper and Alexander ought to be civilians,” he said. “I think that civilians would be able to have a better balance in seeing the distinction between security and civil liberties.”
Alexander, four-star Army general, is planning to retire in the spring, according to The Hill.
In October, Sensenbrenner said he planned to introduce legislation that would scale back some of the counterterrorism laws he once championed while indicating that the NSA had taken advantage of the intent of the 2011 Patriot Act.
The move could put an end to the NSA’s massive bulk collection of Internet and telephone data that Sensenbrenner said made him, “appalled and angry.”