Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis) is righteously upset over revelations regarding the National Security Agency's domestic information-gathering program that has collected data on phone calls made by tens of milliions of Americans. Here's the problem:
Sensenbrenner voted for the law enabling this activity. Oh, and he also authored it. He says now Congress never meant for the law to allow such sweeping intelligence agency actions. But:
1. George W. Bush used that power, like Obama but without criticism on Capitol Hill, despite continuing vocal concerns from progressive forces, not to mention Justice Department audits that revealed problems years ago. You wouldn't know it to read the mainstream media so far, but as The Atlantic magazine and other media have pointed out how, several times before (twice during the Bush administration in 2006 an d'07, and once during Obama's first term, in 2010), troubling indications surfaced that the Patriot Act's relaxed surveillance standards had resulted in the FBI running amok. Sensenbrenner insisted before the first of those revelations that the act had sufficient safeguards in it. So this is our third go-around, and Sensenbrenner is still expressing shock at the law he proclaimed had those safeguards.
2. Congress not only authorized the law, but oversees it! Hmmm. Is Sensenbrenner now saying that he and his fellow lawmakers who approved this law only paid lip service to oversight, or agreed to ineffectual oversight rules? To whom should either of those "our lack of oversight was an oversight" screw-ups be assigned? This latest Sensenbrenner reaction, arguably, is his own version of the famous comment by Bush's secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice, regarding the 9/11 attacks. "No one could have predicted" it, to borrow her words. Except, as you'll see below, someone did predict it.