Rand Paul

10 Great Points in Rand Paul's Patriot Act Attack

It's not every day that a GOP presidential candidate talks about the drug war's 'disparate racial impact' while trying to run the clock out on blanket surveillance



I don't know whether Rand Paul's ongoing Senate talkfest will succeed in running out the clock on the Patriot Act, or (as he is seeking) opening up a debate and amendment process, but I do know that—just like his 2013 exercise—these have been some of the most invigorating hours on C-SPAN in recent memory.

1) Warrants need to be "individualized," because collective law enforcement is the root of much evil.

Paul's root opposition to the Patriot Act is that it is being used as the legal justification for the collection of bulk data against unsuspecting U.S. citizens who no one believes have committed a crime. His opposition to the reforming USA Freedom Act is that it still allows the government to compel third-party companies like Verizon to cough up 100 percent of its customer metadata.

Either way, Paul has stressed all day, this is antithetical to both the Fourth Amendment and the American tradition of individual rights. Collective guilt is what underpinned the segregationist horrors of the Jim Crow south, and of the indefensible internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The people who really need the Bill of Rights, he has said, are not the prom queens and homecoming kings, but people who are in a disfavored minority, whether ideological, religious, or racial.

2) Internet/telephone/data companies should put up "unified resistance" to federal compulsion to turn over user data.

It's not every day that you see a sitting U.S. senator calling for straight-up civil disobedience. But in an era where the Supreme Court has yet to definitively rule on the third-party doctrine governing what intermediaries have to do when requested by the government to cough up all user data, building up a bigger cultural expectation of privacy is crucial if our credit-card data and cloud storage is going to be proferred traditional 4th Amendment protection.

3) "We're using the Patriot Act to put [drug offenders] in prison."

One of the least remembered scandals in the Summer of Snowden is that the Drug Enforcement Agency has been collecting bulk metadata with all the same gusto as the National Security Agency, even though the DEA is supposed to enforce the law on U.S. citizens who are afforded protections from the Constitution. In fact, the DEA has been using the NSA's data. Patriot Act mission creep might not be news to Reason readers, but that makes it no less indefensible.

4) "Government by cliff is a recipe for disaster."

That's a quote from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), not Rand Paul, though the two have long agreed about this principle. The Patriot Act expires at the end of May. "It's been three years since we've known this date is coming," Paul said. Why in hell hasn't there been a debate, with amendments, in the Senate? Why does Capitol Hill lurch from cliff to cliff, instead of actually do the job of governing? I suppose this bad habit of mind is good for certain opportunistic politicians with a sense of theater, but it's just lousy for the country. The Republicans run the joint; the dysfunction is now squarely on them.

5) "It was done by executive decree, it can be undone by executive decree."

Paul has continuously bemoaned President Barack Obama's civil-liberties switcheroo when in office, a topic he talked with me about in a September 2013 (bottom of the post). As he rightly points out, most of the actions civil libertarians are complaining about are pure inventions and executions by the executive branch. If the president cares about this stuff as much as he occasionally pretends to be, he can actually stop collecting the metadata.

6) The government is "using records to gain entrance to people, and then tak[ing] their stuff without conviction."

The connection between civil asset forfeiture and NSA surveillance might not be immediately obvious, but Paul has done a bravura job in making the link. A government that can take your money—even if you are never charged with a crime—because it doesn't like the way you deposit it in your bank, is a government that should not be trusted with holding all your seemingly innocuous third-party information.

7) "The Constitution is an end to itself."

That's another one from Mike Lee (who, it should be stressed, is wholly in favor of the USA Freedom Act, which Paul opposes on grounds that it still allows for bulk collection of metadata). Too often people try to locate their defense of the founding document on utilitarian grounds; actually, it's a noble blueprint all on its own.

8) We shoulda listened to William Binney.

William Binney was a crucial, pre-Snowden NSA whistleblower. Don't know who he is, what he saw, how he was threatened, and why he's worried about America's "totalitarian" turn? Read this Nick Gillespie interview with the guy.

9) "The director of national intelligence…wasn't telling the truth."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper famously lied to Congress under oath about the collection of bulk metadata on millions of Americans. All afternoon, Rand Paul has used the word "lied" to describe what Clapper did. It is bracing to watch government misbehavior called by its proper name.

10) "The presumption of innocence is an incredibly important doctrine that we shouldn't so casually dismiss."

The fact that this has to be said on the floor of the U.S. Senate is appalling. The fact that it is being said at least offers a little hope.

Reason on Rand Paul here.

NEXT: GOP Should Side with Civil Libertarians Rand Paul and Mike Lee, Not Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton, on Patriot Act Provisions

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  1. If only we could have a libertarian candidate who combined the Republican focus on economic liberties with the Democratic focus on civil liberties!


    1. Why don’t you understand about TEAM?!


    2. What’s the matter with Rand Paul?

      1. He believes that the government should be involved in marriage, he is against woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, while he is for legalization of drugs instead of decriminalization, the list goes on.

        1. “he is for legalization of drugs instead of decriminalization,”
          If theres much difference between legalization and decriminalization I rather have legalization since decriminalization leaves the criminal part on the books thats like decriminalizing levels of theft. Legalize drugs and end the war.

    3. sarc? that was SARC?!

      That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for in a Presidential candidate for DECADES!

      Conservative/Republicans have made themselves stereotypes by advocating bottomless-pit defense expenditures and theocratically-based ‘rationales’ for opposing gay marriage, abortion, etc. They’ve given up fiscal wisdom for extreme positions.

      Liberals/Democrats have gone to the other pole by advocating bottomless-pit spending on any and every “for the peeeeple” program they can come up with, without ever sunsetting any of them or even building in milestones or success-criteria measurements associated with their implementation. I had a cartoon of the archetypal “Liberal throwing money at a problem”…. a guy tossing dollar bills at the flat tire on his car. Stereotypes don’t come from ‘nowhere.’

      The kind of candidate I’m looking for doesn’t seem to exist any more, if any have even existed during my lifetime!

      And given the candidates slated for ’16, it doesn’t look to me that any optimism is in order.

  2. Matt Welch doesn’t make me feel as unsafe as Robby Suave does.

    1. Is it the hair?

      1. It might be his organized mind.

        1. So it is the hair!

          Dude, not coo…DAMN IT

      2. Matt’s hair is so perfect you’d think he was drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s.

        1. You’d better stay away from him, he’ll rip your lungs out Jim!

          Heh. I’d like to meet his tailor.

      3. The Philistines will be his undoing…

    2. Hey, get back on your wheel!!…the damned C-Span is all fuzzy.

      1. That doesn’t rhyme at all.

        1. Every time I rhyme, some folks want to make it a crime. Maybe you don’t want to get on your wheel because it’s dirty and shows some grime, it’s your damn fault but because I care, I bought some cleaner for you that smells like lemon and lime. I don’t mind spending a dime, but I am in no way getting you a birthday mime this time, because that fucker walked around smelling like slime.

          I’ll help you….up on your wheel lazy fucker, come on and climb.

          1. I’m not high enough for this yet.

  3. Rand is still going strong. It’s sad it takes all of this so folks could still go on to violate people’s rights. If they don’t understand what shall not be infringed, secure in their persons, papers and effects means, and all the other easy to read info that’s there to read, no amount of speaking and filibustering will help them understand.

    These folks don’t mistakenly violate the constitution. It is blatant. “Let’s see what we can get away with before they get pissed” they get away with so much, as folks have been poor guardians of liberty….it’s not only sad, but despicable. The experiment of gov’t is a failure, and the slavery must end. It’s a damn shame that someone like Rand has to stand there schooling these other douches on individual rights, and waste time on a gov’t that will never limit itself, as they never do.

    1. Vampier:

      You might consider the following, while you are at it, you and a whole bunch of others too.

      My Social Security Card dates from the late 1040’s,don’t know about yours. In any event, emblazoned on the face of the card, what’s on yours, in a large type face, the following 7 word admonition appears. FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PURPOSES NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION. Care to venture a guess regarding why so damned many government and or administrative types find this simple English language admonition so difficult to understand. Also how come that the general run of the citizenry have yet to take a stand on this simple admonition, an admonition imprinted on a government issued document that all of them have.

      1. mine dates mid-1950’s, and says For Taxpayer Identification Only”, a slight expansion. When the doctor wants it, motor vehicles, power company, phone company, they’re out of order. Now, when you call these clowns, one of the first things they want is “your social security numbe,r please”. I never hesitate to declare “that is for taxpayer identification only, not for any other use”.

  4. Rand is making a stand, too bad he has to waste time, because as a free man he might have been in a band, watching as thousands cheer him on with a lighter in their hand.

    Time is moving on, like that hourglass and sand, but to no avail as liberty will not flourish in this land until all are free from gov’t and people protect individual rights with their own guns manned.

    1. Lighters are out. Everyone holds up cellphones now.

    2. You’re no Agile Cyborg.

      1. I know, that’s why my name is Vampire. Thanks for noticing. :0)

  5. “[…]I suppose this bad habit of mind is good for certain opportunistic politicians with a sense of theater, but it’s just lousy for the country.[…]”

    I think it’s also an excuse to pass what wouldn’t pass if examined: “Hurry! We have to pass this or…!”

  6. “It’s been three years since we’ve known this date is coming,” Paul said. Why in hell hasn’t there been a debate, with amendments, in the Senate?

    The world’s greatest deliberative body!!!!!!

  7. The wife has the radio set to come on to NPR in the morning. It’s useful because it usually only takes a couple of minutes for them to say something so stupid that I have to get up and out of there. This morning, they started their report with something like, “Rand Paul, who is famous for droning on about drones, is now filibustering…” Yeah, remember that whole extra-judicial killing of Americans by executive order thing? Sooooo booooring! God, what a bunch of f**ck-heads.

    1. MSNBC was mocking him which is strange because under almost all times they make the same claims as him about the patriot act. just more proof that it’s not about ideals its about party no matter what they claim.

  8. The sad thing is, most media is simply reporting that he is filibustering and continuing the ‘obstructionist Republican’ narrative. It really is shameful. If the 4th Amendment goes out the window there is no reasonable expectation that the 1st Amendment will remain either. A fact that makes the general media’s complicity in making him sound like a loon all the more confusing.

    1. I have never understood how so many media people who will scream *loudly* about any perceived violation of their First Ammendment rights can be so stupid and short-sighted as to not realize that their striving to eliminate Second Ammendment rights, or their refusal to assist in the protection of any other right (Fourth, in this case), ultimately puts their cherished First Ammendment rights up for grabs, too.

    2. their compllicity is not confusing in the least. It is a carefully crafted narrative with a specific end point in view, and they are well on the way to seeing that end reached. Not confusing in the slightest.

    3. Let’s all agree that most people disregard the Constitution of these United States, I mean even Libertarians do it. For instance when was the last time a Libertarian tried to defend Eminent Domain, Copy Right Laws, Direct Taxation on the incomes of American Citizens, Direct election of Senators, and the Electoral College?

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  10. Rand is his father’s son. He should keep at it, no matter what happens in presidential politics. How long since we’ve had a senator who would give speeches like these? Remember how mainstreamers attacked him when he ran for office? They did not want his voice heard. Reason, broadcast Rand Paul’s message as much as you can!

    1. Yeah, they’re already moving towards the lunatic Tea Party side. Reason will be undermined soon enough. I don’t think they support Rand Paul, despite the fact that he is a superior example of a public servant.

  11. Okay, my respect for Rand Paul has gone up a notch. But I still don’t know if he’s as good as his father.

    1. No, he’s just smarter, more prudent and more patient than his father. Vote for him, don’t worry about the rest.

  12. What ever happened to Justin Amash?

  13. As an engineer, I understand the importance of accurate date. As a citizen, I sense the danger of how data, in the wrong hands, can be woefully misused. We seem trapped between two dangers (1) anarchic terrorists and (2) big-government zealots.

    1. the anarchic terrorists are largely a construct of the big-government zealots. So, since the mozzies drove airplanes into buildings, we’ve seen perhaps one significant attack here in the US that MAY not have been a false flag incident invented, designed, implemented, then sprung on a gullible population by that same zealous government. And in that case (the recent Garland Texas attempt at mayhem, thwarted by a pair of sharp coppers) we KNOW the FBI and others had been “watching” these two clowns for some time… and MUST have either known they were on that mission, or even persuaded them to accept it and helped them on their way. EVERY other supposedly terrorist event has its origin in government operations.

      So, don’t lose a wink’s sleep over the “anarchic terrorists” you are a thousand times less likely to be a victim of a real terrorist act here in the USA as you are to get kiled on the freeway driving home from work.

      1. Don’t forget the Boston Bombers on your list the Fed’s were well aware of them for a long time, even interviewed them after the Russian,s yes the Russians, informed our government about them. what good is info if your not going to act on it. and if they are not going to use the info then why should others bother to help, like the Russians in this case.

  14. William Binney was a crucial, pre-Snowden NSA whistleblower.

    Nothing the B-movie actor called “Edward Snowden” supposedly revealed was any different from what Binney revealed quite a few years prior to The Greenwald-Snowden PeepShow.

    It was regurgitated simply to make Glenn Greenwald seem a “dissident” and to make gay men and hetero women feel swoony over “sexy boy-spy” Snowden. In other words, it was a scam.

    But keep reinforcing the genuineness of Snowden/Greenwald, it shows what great insights and deep wisdom reside here at reason.com’s masthead.

  15. The article began with the following:

    10 Great Points in Rand Paul’s Patriot Act Attack
    It’s not every day that a GOP presidential candidate talks about the drug war’s ‘disparate racial impact’ while trying to run the clock out on blanket surveillance.

    It’s not every day, matter of fact, it strikes me as altogether to seldom, that one sees a United States Senator show some balls.

  16. How do we know that the DEA has used
    the Patriot Act to incarcerate drug users?

  17. Re-writing the Constitution is a core principle of Progressivism. You see it now with their attempts to re-write the First amendment. They will never stop trying to gut the second, and the remainder are just impediments to their goal of establishing a super-state.

    It is good to see Rand Paul calling this stuff out. The MSM and NPR won’t talk about it, but Fox and the WSJ will. And people will eventually start to listen

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