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Rand Paul Takes To Senate Floor To Block NSA Surveillance Measure

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Rand Paul Takes To Senate Floor To Block NSA Surveillance Measure

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Rand Paul

By Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., seized the Senate floor Wednesday in what he said would be a filibuster to block renewal of a controversial domestic-surveillance program.

At 1:18 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Paul, the libertarian-leaning presidential contender, stood at his Senate desk before an otherwise empty chamber and began to speak out against a National Security Agency spying program that will expire at the end of the month if Congress fails to act.

“There comes to a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer. That time is now,” Paul said as a few tourists in the gallery looked on. “And I will not let the Patriot Act, the most un-patriotic of acts, go unchallenged.”

It was unclear how long Paul expected to hold forth on the Senate floor or whether his maneuver could be accurately described as a filibuster against the NSA program.

His speech actually interrupted proceedings on an unrelated trade measure that is a priority for the Obama administration. That trade bill is scheduled for a Thursday vote, and it was doubtful Paul could talk long enough to stop that, raising questions about whether his plan was to embark on a true filibuster, or merely a long speech.

“I’ve just taken the senate floor to begin a filibuster of the Patriot Act renewal. It’s time to end the NSA spying!” Paul said on his Twitter account.

Whether he can break his previous nearly 13-hour effort remained unclear. In 2013 Paul launched a filibuster against the Obama administration’s drone policies, temporarily blocking the confirmation of a new CIA chief.

An aide said Wednesday that Paul planned to speak until he no longer can. One clue of his plans: He was not wearing sneakers, but instead sensible-looking dark dress shoes.

The Kentucky Republican appears to have determined that the political rewards of holding true to his civil libertarian sensibilities overpowered any risks he now faces as a political candidate trying to appeal to a wider swath of Republicans and other voters, who may not support his actions.

He had previously canceled a scheduled Thursday evening event at a tea party group in Florida, organizers said on their website, so he could fight in Washington against the surveillance program.

Congress is racing against a deadline to resolve a standoff over what to do about an NSA program that collects and stores Americans’ telephone dialing records. The House overwhelmingly approved a measure last week that reins in some aspects of the surveillance program. The Senate’s Republican leadership under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky rejects that approach and wants to extend the program as is.

Paul rejects both approaches, and has vowed to do away with the program if he becomes president.

Photo: Rand Paul for U.S. Senate via Flickr

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9 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila May 21, 2015

    Idealism is great, but I can’t help wondering who will the GOP blame is the Patriots Act is repealed and another 9/11 takes place. Rest assured, it will not be a Republican.
    I deplore our loss of freedom, I hate the idea of Big Brother, but I understand that we live in a dangerous world, and that our freedoms allow enemies to come to the USA, live among us, and are determined to hurt our families if we let our guard down.
    I am convinced that intelligence organizations like the NSA, FBI, and CIA are not interested in our daily lives, that they are not monitoring the activities of law abiding Americans, and that they have our best interests at heart. Unfortunately, our Constitution and our laws do not allow the level of police state tactics that would allow our intelligence and law enforcement agencies to single out potential terrorists living in the USA to prevent another catastrophe. With that in mind, they are using technology to gather information that helps them do their job…and keep us safe.

    Reply
    1. NoodleDogg #1 May 21, 2015

      You fail understanding the lessons of history. Any government that continually intrudes into the private lives of its citizens and private business, especially under the guise of making us safer, ends up reducing our freedoms, limiting our opportunities, and eventually collapsing the country. How far do you want to carry the concept of “protection”? You support banning political discussions in churches? How about requiring mandatory government-run youth camps to teach children the right way to think, to recognize those that are straying from government approved activities? Terrorism won’t be stopped by monitoring and regulating the minutiae of everyday life of the common man. Those bent on wrong doing ignore the law. It’s rather like passing all kinds of laws, regulations and licensing procedures on how to clean up rat droppings. You will have a government bureaucracy that pursues the dropper picker upper not the real problem, the rats. The rat does not care about the law and goes on its merry way littering and destroying. The poor pooper scooper on the other hand, goes to jail, gets fined, loses his job for not following procedure. A new group of law breakers has been created, but the rats still run amuck.

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila May 21, 2015

        No need to engage in hyperbole, such as indoctrination camps. Nobody likes our loss of freedom. The question is: do we risk another 9/11, or do we do whatever it takes to prevent another? This is not a hypothetical probability. The danger of terrorist attacks is very real, and there is ample evidence to understand that.

        Reply
        1. NoodleDogg #1 May 22, 2015

          The danger of terrorist attacks has always been a possibility whether before 9/11, before the WWII, before what ever point in time you wish to consider. Those that wish to live in fear, who choose to hide from reality and disarm the public will not prevent a terrorist attack. Actually, those two really big oceans on our borders comprise some of the best defenses we have. There won’t be any surprise hoard of fleet footed aggressors with tanks invading one night unbeknownst. One can say that the best way to prevent naughty children would be to outlaw children. The same obtuse thinking applies to preventing terrorism by passing more restrictive laws, laws that thwart the Constitution, laws that em power the central government . The criminal cares not at all. Thus only the law bidding are crippled by more and more constraints. There really is no proof that the Partriots Act has prevented or reduced the threat of terrorism. Do you really think that an ISIS cell will consider the ramifications of the Patriots Act prior to committing some atrocity in the U.S.? Perhaps a better approach is to let the world know that if our homeland is attacked the invaders home turf will be destroyed in return. That is the language a terrorist understands.

          Reply
          1. Buzzi Butt May 22, 2015

            Of course, the world knows that our current fearless leader wouldn’t attack anything more hostile than a fly buzzing over his dinner plate.

            Reply
          2. Dominick Vila May 23, 2015

            I agree with much of what you said, including the protection we get from the large Oceans that surround most of our country, and the fact that foreign terrorist attacks have always been a possibility.
            I am not among those who checks for commies under my bed before going to sleep, or heed to warnings about Nicaraguan invasions of the USA. However, I think it is irresponsible to ignore the distinct probability of another 9/11. That probability is not going to come from camel riders crossing the Behring Strait. According to our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS have cells and sympathizers throughout the world, including in the USA. Their ability to strike in countries such as the USA and most West European nations, is facilitated by the freedoms we enjoy. It is our obligation, and the obligation of our government, to be vigilant and ready to do whatever it takes to protect the homeland. That, by the way, is the main justification for spending trillions of dollars on defense and intelligence throughout our history. We haven’t done that, and supported such expenditures, because we are afraid, we have done it and continue to do it because every country, and every individual, should do everything possible to protect their country and their families.
            As for the proposed expansion of Reagan’s Brady Act, nobody is proposing disarmament. What has been proposed is making more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to buy and use lethal weapons. Whether or not that change will produce the desired results is another matter.

            Reply
          3. NoodleDogg #1 May 24, 2015

            A basic fallacy of your thinking is that more laws will stop criminals. By definition, a criminal is one who breaks the law. Therefore, more laws, more criminals. If the individual is not willing or allowed to resolve problems, to protect his family/community/self without a governmental entity supervising, society starts to crumble. The individual has to be empowered to contribute to society voluntarily. A domineering central government interferes with that. Obviously, a base moral code has to be in place as well. Who decides what mentally ill means? Anyone prescribed an anti-psychotic at some point in their life? One gets into a circular argument when deciding if the a person became mentally ill before or after committing an atrocity.

            Just to set the record straight. all weapons are lethal: That is the point. But mis-use of the weapon is the rea issue. We allow the automobile, which can be a lethal weapon, to kill 30,000 or so people every year, usually by misuse of the device. Do we ban autos? No, that kind of killing is acceptable to our society. Most gun deaths are related to crime and suicide. Banning guns won’t alleviate either of those 2 issues. But if I know my neighbors are armed, and the average criminal wannabe knows my neighbors and I are armed, I have far better protection from harm than vacuous words on a piece of paper.

            Reply
          4. Dominick Vila May 24, 2015

            I have not heard any political leader, Republican or Democrat, propose disarmament. What was proposed was strengthening Reagan’s Brady Act to make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to buy and use guns. Will that reduce gun violence in the USA? I doubt it, but it is worth a try. Politicians, and many Americans, have questioned the logic of allowing people to buy semi-automatic weapons, high capacity magazines, and parading in public places with such weapons. For many, including me, the latter is not a demonstration of freedom, and does not make us safer. It is a lot closer to intimidation than the exercise of our constitutional rights. I have no problem with people owning a gun to protect themselves against criminals. I have a problem with every Tom, Dick and Harry running around armed to the teeth provoking violent responses.

            Reply
          5. NoodleDogg #1 May 24, 2015

            The Brady Act hasn’t deterred crime. Again, criminals don’t care about the law–and therefore deliberately violate the law on a regular basis. The hang-up on semi-automatic weapons is blown out of proportion. Semi-autos have been a gun standard for years-ask any hunter. One still has to pull the trigger for each and every projectile that leaves the gun. That mechanism has been around since the late 1800’s. The proposal of banning “military” style weapons is a ridiculous since the issue boils down to the composition of rifle frame. The fact is that hand guns, not rifles are the main weapon of choice for gun violence. While the sensationalized mass killers had rifles, most also had hand guns. For those that think they need to carry guns openingly in public–common sense needs to prevail. There is no reason for Earl to be carting his 30-06 while shopping at the local super store. A discrete pocket pistol should suffice. If not, I’d say find some place else to shop. As for “…every Tom, Dick and Harry running around armed to the teeth provoking violent response…” that is a fantasy of the anti-gunners. Rogue cops seem to be our biggest problem of late on this issue. I suspect you don’t propose disarming all cops as a cure, however. One can analogize about every bar in town that serves alcohol–they are provoking drunkards and DUI’s. So let’s ban alcohol and bars.

            Reply

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