This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 1, 2015:
When Kentucky Senator Rand Paul learned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had called the Senate into special session on Sunday afternoon to reconsider extending the Patriot Act (and most likely the USA Freedom Act which the House just passed), he saw his opportunity. It was a “carpe diem” moment (“seize the day”).
He gave this to Politico:
I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans. The callous use of general warrants and the disregard for the Bill of Rights must end. Forcing us to choose between our rights and our safety is a false choice, and we are better than that as a nation and as a people.
That’s why two years ago, I sued the NSA. It’s why I proposed the Fourth Amendment Protection Act. It’s why I have been seeking for months to have a full, open, and honest debate on this issue – a debate that never came.
So last week, seeing proponents of this illegal spying rushing toward a deadline to wholesale renew this unconstitutional power, I filibustered the bill. I spoke for over 10 hours to call attention to the vast expansion of the spy state and the corresponding erosion of our liberties.
Then, last week, I further blocked the extension of these powers and the Senate adjourned for recess rather than stay and debate them.
Tomorrow [Sunday, May 31], we will come back with just hours left before the NSA illegal spying powers expire.
Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security. I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies.
But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not. There has to be another way. We must find it together.
So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program.
I am ready and willing to start the debate on how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty.
Paul knew that McConnell had failed to extend the Patriot Act without modifications last week, partly thanks to Paul’s filibuster that apparently roused the folks back home. Paul knew that, under Senate rules, in order to bring the extension of the Act to the floor, all 100 Senators would have to vote to suspend regular rules. Just one vote, and, for all intents and purposes, extension was dead – at least for the next five days.
Paul also knew that the USA Freedom Act, just passed by the House, wouldn’t pass the Senate without modifications, some of which would likely make it impossible for the House to approve it in conference.
Paul also knew that three judges had just ruled against the NSA’s stretching of the odious Section 215 of the Patriot Act all out of original intent by the Congress, and that, once out of the proverbial bottle, Section 215 wouldn’t likely be stuffed back in.
So, at the risk of alienating his fellow Kentuckian and some friends who think spying on Americans is justified by the war on terror, to say nothing of his nascent run for the presidency in 2016, Paul seized the day.
Sometimes the planets align perfectly. This could be one of those times.
The nudge from the judges is likely to severely restrict, if not end altogether, the illegal and unconstitutional spying by the NSA that has been going on ever since 2001. What politician with an ounce of common sense would attempt to extend the NSA’s powers in light of this from the worthies on the panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York? Especially when they took special pains to point out the gravity of the excesses particularly relating to the odious Section 215 of the Patriot Act:
The statutes to which the government points have never been interpreted to authorize anything approached the breadth of the sweeping surveillance at issue here. The sheer volume of information sought [by those agencies] is staggering….
Such an expansive concept of “relevance” [in place of “probable cause” demanded by the Fourth Amendment] is unprecedented and unwarranted, [and creating] government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans….
The text of [Section] 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and … does not authorize the telephone metadata problem.
It’s far from clear at this moment in time whether Paul will be able to muster enough support from constitutionalists to end the Patriot Act altogether as he has repeatedly said he wants to. But at the moment a delay is tantamount to a repeal.
The Wall Street Journal: Sen. Rand Paul Vows to Prevent Senate From Extending Patriot Act
The Huffington Post: Rand Paul Vows To Block Patriot Act Extension
The Washington Post: Rand Paul vows to force expiration of Patriot Act
The Wall Street Journal: NSA Phone Program Is Illegal, Appeals Court Rules