Sensenbrenner Speaks on Government Surveillance

November 22, 2013 — “If Congress had intended to allow bulk collection, it would have authorized bulk collection,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., addressing a panel of foreign intelligence experts gathered here on November 19.

The event was especially timely, coming one day after the release of newly declassified government documents relating to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of metadata, noted Professor Laura Donohue, director of the Center on National Security and the Law, who led the panel. The Center co-sponsored the event, along with the National Security Law Society.  It was part two of a three-part discussion series on national security issues.

Panelists included Adjunct Professor Marc Rotenberg, president and executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center; Matthew G. Olsen of the National Counterterrorism Center; Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union and Robert Litt of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Last month, Patrick Leahy (L’64), D-Vt., and Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee, introduced the USA Freedom Act, which seeks to protect Americans from overly broad governmental intrusions conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, who introduced Sensenbrenner, said that the purpose of the day’s program was to move the conversation forward. “How do we mitigate threats, control technology, reap the benefits and remain true to our founding principles?” Treanor asked. “This is one of the defining issues of our age.” 

A webcast is available here.