Back in November of last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) made a video decrying the abuse of PATRIOT Act Section 215, warning that it authorized the secret government acquisition of "gazillions" of records, and that in terms of Americans being snooped, "the number is beyond normal cognition." Watch:
The in late December, the Senate convened an "unusual special session" to re-authorizing the FISA Amendments Act. Among the amendments to the re-authorization that were overwhelmingly shot down were a Rand Paul measure to extend Fourth Amendment protections to email, and an attempt by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to require estimates from intelligence agencies of how many Americans were being surveilled. Said Wyden at the time: "I think, when you talk about oversight, and you can't even get a rough estimate of how many law-abiding Americans had their communications swept up by this law … the idea of robust oversight, really ought to be called toothless oversight if you don't have that kind of information."
Wyden and Paul may be at the forefront of a nascent bipartisan Civil Liberties Caucus, but make no mistake: They are vastly outnumbered. Only when civil libertarians win national arguments, and only when a majority of lawmakers are consistent defenders of the Fourth Amendment no matter which major political party holds power at the moment, will America begin the process of even slowing down the relentless advancement of the surveillance state.
Rand Paul praised Ron Wyden in his recent Twitter Q&A with Reason.
UPDATE: Paul reacts to the latest news, calling it "an astounding assault on the Constitution."