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
Add to Briefcase
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.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.