Rand Paul will do whatever it takes to force a debate against the extension of the Patriot Act, including a good, old-fashioned filibuster.
While a filibuster seems like a drastic measure, in reality, Rand Paul is not asking much. He simply wants Barack Obama to ditch the Patriot Act, forget about the USA Freedom Act, and obey the laws that are already in place thanks to the Constitution.
The USA Freedom Act is simply another form of the Patriot Act that is being fast-tracked, likely in the hope that Americans won’t have time to notice the striking similarities.
The USA Freedom Act only bars the use of section 215 [of the Patriot Act] for collecting US phone data in bulk, says The Guardian. Other domestic surveillance authorities, including the DEA’s recently disclosed bulk phone records collection, would remain untouched, as would the NSA and FBI’s ability to search without a warrant through its bulk of internet content and metadata for Americans’ communications.
The USA Freedom Act would end the mass collection of metadata by the NSA, but would still grant a broad authorization to collect information from phone companies.
Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit determined that the NSA’s bulk collection of data from the private communications of American citizens was unlawful and a violation of constitutional rights.
So, wouldn’t the USA Freedom Act also be unlawful? I’m just putting that out there.
The 4th Amendment of The Constitution of the United States says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
According to The Daily Caller, during a rally held outside of Independence Hall, Rand Paul reaffirmed his stance to a cheering crowd, saying:
“I don’t know anyone named Mr. Verizon. That is not a valid warrant. That is a general warrant. And that’s what we fought the revolution over. Our Founding Fathers would be appalled to know that we are writing one single warrant and collecting everyone’s phone records all the time.”
Besides being a huge invasion of the privacy of American citizens, the broad spying and collection of data, whether directly carried out by the NSA or through a general warrant on phone companies, doesn’t actually work.
Rand Paul, in an article for Time, made this same observation, saying:
“Opponents of civil liberties contend the NSA data collection has made our country more safe, but even the most vocal defenders of the program have failed to identify a single thwarted plot.”
He added, “If anything, the terror attack during the Boston marathon is a tragic reminder that casting too wide of a collection net for intelligence can be a distraction from the analysis necessary to stop plots — and, I’d argue, push us further from the fundamental reform necessary for our intelligence agencies to successfully counter terrorism.”
So, yeah, Rand Paul might be taking a risk by pulling a filibuster this week in his efforts to prevent a clean extension of the Patriot Act or the passing of the USA Freedom Act until after the upcoming recess, and he should.
He knows that he may not succeed, but if he can buy time for those who hold our future in their hands to actually read the thing, and for citizens to realize that the proposed USA Freedom Act is simply a slightly toned-down Patriot Act, it will be well worth the effort.
Do you think a filibuster over the Patriot Act extension or the passing of the USA Freedom Act, both of which have bipartisan support, poses a risk to Paul’s presidential campaign? Send us a tweet or comment below!
(Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
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