Rand Paul: "It's Time To Trash the NSA's Mass Surveillance of Americans, For Good"


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Writing in The Guardian website's "Comment is Free" page, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was "somewhat disingenuous" when he claimed in a recent interview with The Daily Beast that much of the uproar surrounding Edward Snowden's revelations related to the NSA's activities could have been avoided if the intelligence community had been more transparent in the wake of 9/11.

From The Daily Beast:

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Clapper said the problems facing the U.S. intelligence community over its collection of phone records could have been avoided. "I probably shouldn't say this, but I will. Had we been transparent about this from the outset right after 9/11—which is the genesis of the 215 program—and said both to the American people and to their elected representatives, we need to cover this gap, we need to make sure this never happens to us again, so here is what we are going to set up, here is how it's going to work, and why we have to do it, and here are the safeguards… We wouldn't have had the problem we had," Clapper said.

Paul had this to say in response:

The United States needs intelligence gathering, the ability to obtain and keep secrets, spying on foreign powers and genuine threats and all the other tools nations use to protect their security. No one is disputing this.

But Clapper is being somewhat disingenuous here. Part of the reason our government does some things behind Americans' backs is not for security, but because certain activities, if known, would outrage the public.

Spying on every American certainly falls into this category. I also believe it is blatantly unconstitutional, and bringing these activities to light would immediately spark debates the NSA would rather not hear.

The notion that if the NSA had informed us they were monitoring every American would somehow make it OK, does not make it OK. Explaining why you are violating the Fourth Amendment does not invalidate the Fourth Amendment.

Paul concludes his op-ed by saying,

It's time to trash the NSA's mass surveillance of Americans, for good.

Unsurprisingly, given that The Guardian is a U.K.-based paper, some of the commenters are upset that Paul didn't say that the NSA's mass surveillance of everyone, not just Americans, should be scrapped.

Paul recently filed a lawsuit against President Obama and other administration officials over the NSA's phone metadata collection program.

More from Reason.com on Paul and the NSA here and here.