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Paul Hopes His Opposition To Patriot Act Boosts Campaign Support

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Paul Hopes His Opposition To Patriot Act Boosts Campaign Support


By Sean Cockerham, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — As his fellow Republican Kentucky senator, Mitch McConnell, pushes this week to reauthorize the Patriot Act, Rand Paul took his presidential campaign to Independence Mall on Monday and said he’d do whatever he could to kill the law and the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

“One senator came up to me and said, ‘If you defeat the Patriot Act, what will happen? How could we possibly survive?'” Paul said on a muggy afternoon, outside the Philadelphia hall where the Constitution was adopted. “And I said, ‘Maybe, just maybe, we could rely on the Constitution for a few hours.'”

Paul’s vow to fight the Patriot Act sets up a showdown with McConnell, and it’s an important moment for his campaign. Polls show Paul mired in the middle of a crowded field of Republican contenders, and he’s hoping his threat to filibuster over the mass collection of phone records will bring back the excitement of the 13-hour anti-drone talkathon on the Senate floor two years ago that launched him into national prominence.

“If he pulls this off, I think it will be important in reminding the libertarian/civil liberties-leaning people what it was they liked about this guy in the first place,” said Brian Doherty, senior editor at the libertarian Reason magazine and author of a book about Paul’s father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Rand Paul, who said he intended to filibuster the provision, said this week’s battle over reauthorizing the Patriot Act would be “a great and momentous debate” over the Constitution’s right to privacy. The act, which passed by lopsided margins following the terrorist attacks of September 2001, handed largely unchecked powers to federal investigators to combat terrorism. Since then some courts have found provisions unconstitutional.

But Paul didn’t sound confident of winning. It would take 60 votes in the Senate to defeat his filibuster, but he said, “The rules are tricky in the Senate.”

“We do not have the votes to ultimately defeat the Patriot Act. I can delay it. … What I will demand is we have time on the floor to debate this, and I will demand that amendments that we put forward are given a chance on the Senate floor,” Paul said, surrounded by a crowd of youthful supporters.

Paul’s position on the Patriot Act puts him at sharp odds with his rivals for the Republican nomination. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called the National Security Agency’s data collection program important for protecting the nation’s security, and “the best part of the Obama administration.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has also defended the program, as has South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, wants changes to the program but doesn’t go as far as Paul. Paul said he’d offer amendments with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who’s also threatening a filibuster.

Time is running out for the Patriot Act, making Paul’s filibuster threat far more effective. Section 215, used to justify the bulk collection of phone data, is set to expire June 1, as is the “lone wolf” provision, meant to surveil targets not directly connected to terrorist cells, and a measure that allows the government to use roving wiretaps to track suspects who switch phones or locations.

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  1. Dominick Vila May 19, 2015

    The only positive thing I can say about Sen. Rand Paul is that he is an equal opportunity employer. He goes after members of his own party as energetically as he does against Democrats.
    Stunts like this are not going to get him very far. With the possible exception of Libertarians, I doubt too many Republicans will consider him a viable nominee in 2016. His candidacy is doomed.

  2. Bren Frowick May 19, 2015

    His libertarian-“ish” leanings likely WOULD help him in a general election (although he would still lose. Badly.) But they will only further limit any chance he might have had to get the GOP nomination in the first place, given how ascendant the war-mongers still are, peddling fear in order to whip up enthusiasm for campaigns that have nothing else to offer.

  3. FireBaron May 19, 2015

    Unfortunately for Senator Paul, the Rhenquist Court already established that we do NOT have a Constitutional Right to “privacy”. If we had, the USA PATRIOT Act would have been thrown out within a month of its passage.
    Also, Conservatives apparently LIKE having their personal liberties removed – especially when the talking heads on Fox tell them how much more free we are without them! Tell somebody the same lie enough times and they will believe it to be true.

  4. bobnstuff May 19, 2015

    Mr. Paul is a problem for me, Some of his views are to crazy for me and some times he makes sense. The Patriot Act is the largest grab of our rights in history and is the
    most miss used law ever. Local police are using it for everything. No more search warrants need, just use the Patriot Act. The law needs to go away.

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little
    temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

  5. Joseph Kelsall May 19, 2015

    You are stuck with the Patriot Act because you fell for the national paranoia spewed fro the mouth of Federal Government. At the same time Blair introduced the US/UK Extradition Act of 2003 which bent over backwards to give the advantage to the USA. It’s all a ruse to soften people up for unnecessary wars.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker May 19, 2015

      I so agree. Once you factor in the huge cost of endless wars and which red states eat up all the profits, you see why the idea of reducing rights to privacy is important. Hitler tried that in Nazi Germany where the rules were governed largely by militants with ideas of world control.

  6. Eleanore Whitaker May 19, 2015

    When I left the GOP after 33 years in 2004, I was curious about the Libertarian Party. Fortunately, there was an “open” meeting of the Libertarians in a nearby town in 2005. I decided to see what they were all about. I was one of only 3 women in the entire room.

    They spoke of deregulations as if it was a Constitutional right. My recollection of their major topics was how to get rid of all taxation. At which point, I raised my hand and asked: “Without any taxation, how will roads, bridges and tunnels be repaired? Who will pay for that?

    I knew I was in dangerous waters when I heard the roar of male Libertarians in the majority in the room and the moderator of the meeting changed the subject faster than a quick change artist changes costumes. It was obvious another opinion that did not agree with Libertarian platitudes, gospels and ideology were not welcomed.

    Most of those in the room were NJ’s top bankers, business owners and political hacks. I decided not to judge this meeting until I had a chance to allow my thoughts to settle. I realized then that Libertarism is as close as it gets to Opus Dei cultists.

    1. Dominick Vila May 19, 2015

      The only way for our economic piranhas to achieve the sanctity espoused by the Praelatura Sanctae Crucis et Operis Dei, is physical resurrection, and that is not in the cards for them.

  7. Eleanore Whitaker May 19, 2015

    If I don’t trust the motives of his KY mentor, Mitch McConnell, why on earth should I chance another good ole good ole boy like Rand Paul? He knows that KY charm slathered onto his gospels make him appear to be saleable.

    The joke is at present there are nearly one dozen GOP candidates all declaring for the 2016 election. Pray tell, how does a Dem candidate debate 12 candidates? Or is this yet another way the GOP hopes to “take over” by glutting the campaign with so many money making candidates that any opposition on a campaign debate platform will be totally silenced by a ratio of 1 to 12?

  8. Budjob May 19, 2015

    If,any of the Presidential aspirants are even REMOTELY associated with Republicans or their policies,I would encourage individuals to be wary of them.Just examine what they and their policies have done to this country! I am so distrustful,and mistrustful of Republicans,that if Jesus Christ was seeking office as a Republican,I would not vote for Him!! And,yes ladies,there is absolutely a war on women in the United States of America!!!

  9. AlfredSonny May 19, 2015

    Does the large number of candidates indicate lack of leadership? Will having too many chefs spoil the broth? Are the Koch brothers and their greedy cronies spoiling their puppets by spoiling the Republican soup?


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