Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) introduced the Patriot Act in October of 2001. Today, he sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder saying that initial reports about the National Security Administration's request for Verizon phone records are "disturbing," and "not consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act."
Take a minute to let that sink in.
"As the author of the Patriot Act, I am extremely troubled by the FBI's interpretation of this legislation. While I believe the Patriot Act appropriately balanced national security concerns and civil rights, I have always worried about potential abuses," Sensenbrenner said in a statement released in conjunction with the release of his letter to Holder.
"The Bureau's broad application for phone records was made under the so-called business records provision of the Act. I do not believe the broadly drafted FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American."
You can read his letter to Holder below. But first, here's a reminder–courtesy of Matt Taibbi–of how Sensenbrenner has behaved in the past when his colleagues in the House tried to hold hearings examining the Patriot Act:
Last year, Sensenbrenner became apoplectic when Democrats who wanted to hold a hearing on the Patriot Act invoked a little-known rule that required him to let them have one.
"Naturally, he scheduled it for something like 9 a.m. on a Friday when Congress wasn't in session, hoping that no one would show," recalls a Democratic staffer who attended the hearing. "But we got a pretty good turnout anyway."
Sensenbrenner kept trying to gavel the hearing to a close, but Democrats again pointed to the rules, which said they had a certain amount of time to examine their witnesses. When they refused to stop the proceedings, the chairman did something unprecedented: He simply picked up his gavel and walked out…
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