Rand Paul Gives Obama’s NSA Speech an ‘A’ for Effort, ‘C’ for Content

The Kentucky Republican said Obama’s latest reforms don’t do enough to protect civil liberties.

This is where Paul watched the speech. A bunker?
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
Jan. 17, 2014, 7:25 a.m.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4664) }}

It looks like Pres­id­ent Obama’s latest re­forms to the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s sur­veil­lance pro­gram did not sat­is­fy Sen. Rand Paul.

The Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an has been one of the lead­ing crit­ics of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s data-col­lec­tion pro­gram. And while the pres­id­ent an­nounced it would be slightly reined in and cer­tain sur­veil­lance on for­eign lead­ers would stop, Paul said the re­forms didn’t go far enough.

“I think what I heard is that if you like your pri­vacy you can keep it,” Paul zinged on CNN fol­low­ing the pres­id­ent’s ad­dress. Go­ing after the pres­id­ent’s ref­er­ence to the Re­volu­tion­ary War, he poked fur­ther: “Paul Revere was warn­ing us that the Brit­ish were com­ing, not that the Amer­ic­ans were com­ing.”

The liber­tari­an law­maker con­tends that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment can still col­lect private in­form­a­tion, even cred­it-card in­form­a­tion, without a war­rant. His biggest point: The pro­gram vi­ol­ates the Fourth Amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion, which re­quires in­di­vidu­al­ized war­rants based on prob­able cause.

“I don’t want them col­lect­ing the in­form­a­tion,” Paul con­tin­ued on CNN. “It’s not about who holds it.”

This is ul­ti­mately an is­sue that he said would need to be de­cided by the Su­preme Court.

Paul also gave cred­it to leak­er Ed­ward Snowden for Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment from the pres­id­ent.

“I think there would have been ab­so­lutely no re­form without Snowden,” Paul said. “We wouldn’t have any of this, we wouldn’t have any dis­cus­sion.”

Paul said that while he be­lieves Obama’s “heart really is in the right place” and that his “motives are not bad,” the White House does not have “enough healthy re­spect for the Fourth Amend­ment.”

At the end of the in­ter­view, Paul was asked to give the pres­id­ent a grade for his speech: an “A” for ef­fort, “C” for con­tent.

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