Rand Paul warned people years ago about American spying programs.
Way before all the 2013 revelations about the NSA – the phone call logging, the e-mail scanning, the website saving – the junior Senator from Kentucky tried to tell people about the dangers of the government being given permission to track its own people.
Here’s what happened. In 2011, Congress had to vote whether to allow the PATRIOT Act to continue. The PATRIOT Act gives wide-ranging powers to the federal government for things like wiretapping and other forms of spying.
Paul stood up and voiced his concerns with the Act. Since its passage in the early 2000s, there have been numerous recorded abuses of power – invasions of privacy and other abuses of human rights.
So Paul let people know he was concerned about where this Act might go. It ultimately passed, after he had a heated exchange with Democratic leader Harry Reid, the Senator from Nevada (which you can watch the video of below). But Paul’s insistence on talking about the issue made a huge difference.
Writes Conor Friedersdorf of Paul’s stand, in a piece for The Atlantic:
“He has made a powerful argument to the public, fulfilled his oath to protect and defend the Constitution by acting against what he regards to be violations of it, and succeeded in getting Senators on record opposing specific reforms.
Representative democracy depends on legislators taking these stands, and Paul made it happen. ”
What Paul’s move did was make all of his colleagues put their opinion on record. It’s in the history books, what each and every elected official voted in regards to the PATRIOT Act. So in future years, if things went awry and the government’s power got out of hand (spoiler alert) we’d all know who allowed it to happen.
That happened in 2011, shortly after Paul took office. Fast forward about two years, to 2013…Americans are being spied on by the NSA, rights are being eroded faster than we could have imagined, and a lot of it can be traced back to that vote. The vote that extended the powers of the PATRIOT Act, rather than reigning the government back in.
Paul warned us. He tried to get his Congressional Colleagues to pay attention.
And two years later, you can see why.
You can watch video of Paul’s comments to fellow Senator Harry Reid in the video below:
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