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The Quotable Jim Sensenbrenner

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One of Capitol Hill's most outspoken critics of the mass data collection undertaken during the last two presidential administrations shares his thoughts on fear-mongering, Edward Snowden, and the long winter of 2014

jimsensenbrenner10.jpegOn Tuesday morning, 18-term Wisconsin U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner gave a talk at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to discuss privacy concerns and constitutional overreach over the last decade-plus stemming from the implementation of the Patriot Act and the subsequent lack of oversight on the intelligence community.

The Republican congressman introduced the USA FREEDOM Act in October 2013 to rein in this unchecked intelligence gathering to better protect the civil liberties of U.S. citizens by outlawing all types of bulk data collection.

The act also opens up the FISA court so that changes in policy are made public and would be subject to debate and potential amendment to the statute. A public advocate would also be appointed as part of the FISA court and appear before it and appeal decisions that the advocate deemed went beyond the facts and the law.

The legislation is sponsored on the Senate side by Democratic Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Sensenbrenner talked for an hour about the ongoing political battle between privacy and security and did not mince words on his own views...

On those who would say security concerns are more important than privacy concerns:

"I get sick and tired of (people) saying that we shouldn't be concerned at all about privacy and civil liberties because that will end up being the precursor for somebody turning this country into a totalitarian state."

On what his fear-mongering critics claim will happen if Sensenbrenner's legislation is passed:

"If we pass your bill, the bombs bursting in air and the rocket's red glare are going to be going off repeatedly."

On Edward Snowden:

"I don't think he's a hero. I think he is a criminal. I don't think he's a traitor."

On the strange bedfellows of the Leahy-Sensenbrenner partnership:

"This is called plowing new fields."

On where Barack Obama comes down on security versus privacy concerns and the USA FREEDOM Act:

"The president does not really have a firm position on this and he's kind of gone back and forth...The White House still is somewhat in a quandary on exactly what to do."

Quoting Barack Obama's admission during a meeting at the White House with Sensenbrenner and the Patriot Act, all the while expanding it overreach on privacy:

"During the campaign my people and I gave you a lot of crap on this."

On whether members of Congress are well-informed on the rapid pace of technological change and the increased ability of government to gather and store large amounts of data to stay on top of the issue:

"Not really. Some of us are better informed than others."

On whether America is in the midst of a Constitutional crisis?

"If this continues, yes. If the law is amended, no...Sooner or later we are going to get to a Constitutional crisis and it will probably be one that is more severe than Watergate."

On who is to blame for the NSA overreach and current privacy concerns?

"All three branches failed to do oversight."

On what should happen to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying to Congress:

"Clapper ought to be fired and he ought to be prosecuted. He's admitted he broke the law. How President Obama has allowed this man to be able to get away with committing a felony by his own admission and staying in his job, I don't know."

On the long winter of 2014:

"This winter's been the pitts."

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

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73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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