Rand Paul Thinks He Killed NSA Phone Spying

The possibilities for 2016 campaign signs are endless.

Key player:  Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
National Journal
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Dustin Volz
March 25, 2014, 6:13 a.m.

Sen. Rand Paul be­lieves he is in part re­spons­ible for Pres­id­ent Obama’s re­por­ted de­cision to end the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s bulk col­lect of do­mest­ic phone data.

“I don’t want to take all the cred­it for end­ing this, but I think our law­suit had something to do with bring­ing the pres­id­ent to the table,” Paul said Tues­day dur­ing an ap­pear­ance on Fox News’s Fox and Friends.

In Feb­ru­ary, the Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an sued the ad­min­is­tra­tion with a class-ac­tion claim he said was on be­half of “hun­dreds of mil­lions” of Amer­ic­ans. The likely 2016 pres­id­en­tial hope­ful and darling of the tea-party move­ment has made no secret of his in­ten­tion to cam­paign on a plat­form of strong op­pos­i­tion to gov­ern­ment spy­ing.

Paul said he was en­cour­aged by a Monday re­port in The New York Times that Obama will push for le­gis­la­tion to leave call data in the hands of private com­pan­ies in­stead of be­ing held by the gov­ern­ment, which is the cur­rent stand­ard. He said, however, that Obama may be drag­ging his feet by seek­ing ap­prov­al from Con­gress for the changes.

“The in­ter­est­ing thing is, he uni­lat­er­ally in­sti­tuted this pro­gram without con­gres­sion­al au­thor­ity,” Paul said. “Now he’s say­ing he has to wait for con­gres­sion­al au­thor­ity to undo it. He could stop it if he were ser­i­ous.”

The pro­gram — com­monly known as the 215 pro­gram be­cause it de­rives leg­al au­thor­ity from Sec­tion 215 of the Pat­ri­ot Act — was one of a num­ber of ini­ti­at­ives uni­lat­er­ally im­ple­men­ted by Pres­id­ent Bush shortly after the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Obama in­her­ited the 215 pro­gram and oth­er ele­ments of the gov­ern­ment-sur­veil­lance ap­par­at­us when he took of­fice.

Reps. Mike Ro­gers, the Re­pub­lic­an chair­man of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, and Dutch Rup­pers­ber­ger, the pan­el’s top Demo­crat, will un­veil their End Bulk Col­lec­tion Act on Tues­day morn­ing.

Paul has long been one of the most vo­cal crit­ics of gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance, and he used his class-ac­tion suit to ac­crue hun­dreds of thou­sands of sig­na­tures through his web­site that may double as a sup­port­er data­base for fu­ture polit­ic­al cam­paigns.

Dur­ing his spot on Fox News, Paul also cri­ti­cized the CIA over re­cent al­leg­a­tions that it il­leg­ally searched the com­puters of a Sen­ate com­mit­tee in­vest­ig­at­ing the agency’s Bush-era in­ter­rog­a­tion prac­tices.

“I really think that there needs to be an over­all in­vest­ig­a­tion of the in­tel­li­gence com­munity,” Paul said. “I fa­vor a se­lect com­mit­tee like they had in the 1970s, the Church Com­mit­tee, to look in­to all of these. there is a cer­tain amount of ar­rog­ance that needs to be checked.”