Rand Paul

Here's Why Rand Paul Will Vote 'No' on AG Nominee William Barr

Paul cited Barr's past support for warrantless surveillance. He's right to be worried.

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Douglas Christian/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) said yesterday he'll oppose the confirmation of William Barr, who President Donald Trump has nominated to be the next attorney general.

"I'm a no," Paul told Politico yesterday. "He's been the chief advocate for warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens. I think that the Fourth Amendment should protect your phone calls and your bank information. People shouldn't be allowed to look at it without a warrant."

It's valid criticism. As the American Civil Liberties Union noted last month, Barr helped oversee a secret phone surveillance program when he led the Justice Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. For years, the feds collected phone records on calls made between people in the U.S. and those in countries connected to alleged drug trafficking activities. (For more on Barr's drug war, read Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum's column from December.)

This program would serve as a sort of precursor to the National Security Agency surveillance enabled by the PATRIOT Act following the 9/11 terror attacks. And while Barr was no longer working in the federal government by the time the PATRIOT Act was implemented, he still defended the program, which civil liberties advocates believe violated the Fourth Amendment's protections against warrantless searches. Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee in 2003, Barr even suggested the PATRIOT Act didn't go far enough.

Paul, for his part, has always been uneasy regarding Barr's nomination. "I'm concerned that he's been a big supporter of the PATRIOT Act, which lowered the standard for spying on Americans," the Kentucky Republican told Meet the Press in December. "And he even went so far as to say, you know, the PATRIOT Act was pretty good, but we should go much further."

"I can tell you, the first things that I've learned about him being for more surveillance of Americans is very, very troubling, Paul added.

Ultimately, Paul's opposition likely won't mean very much. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and it's hard to imagine that two other GOP senators will betray their party and vote no. Also, Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones has already said he will vote to confirm Barr. The full Senate will likely vote on the nomination this week, according to Politico.

Bonus link: Paul has long been one of the Senate's most ardent critics of the PATRIOT Act. Here he is discussing that issue and others with Reason's Matt Welch in 2015:

NEXT: NSA and Silicon Valley -- 25 years of history

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  1. it’s hard to imagine that two other GOP senators will betray their party and vote no

    , given what the feds have on them from monitoring phone calls.

    1. Exactly my thought. At this point, ending the surveillance state would require a critical mass of people in high positions who just don’t give a shit whether the NSA publishes their dirty laundry. That’s only theoretically possible, not a practical possibility.

      We let them go too far in constructing the secret police, at this point the only way out is through.

      1. Or a violent uprising followed by a brutal culling of deep state apparatchiks.

        Either way though. I just want it done. Although I have no issues seeing slavers burn for their sins. Like a wise friend of mine is fond of saying, I don’t care if they ride out of town on their horse, or leave slung over the back, just so long as they leave.

        In other words, the NAP goes out the window when it comes to dealing with slavers.

    2. During the vote call, Rand should stand up and say “Yeah, that’s gonna be a ‘no’ from me, dawg.”

  2. Funny ain’t it that a William Barr with the same views and nominated by, say, Pres. Hillary Clinton, would win overwhelming support from the Democratic senators and opposition from the Repubs.

    1. I’m mostly concerned that he will not do his job. Which at this point is putting democrats in prison. So many of them are guilty of so many obvious crimes. A total retard prosecutor could probably secure felony convictions against a third of the democrats in congress.

  3. I’m getting a little tired of Rand Paul’s big showy announcements of pointless consequence-free votes.
    Barr is going to be approved whether Rand Paul votes yes or not.
    Let’s see Rand Paul cast the deciding vote against the Team Red hivemind.

    1. Damned if he does… damned if he doesn’t.

    2. Make that complaint if he suddenly stops casting the votes after he gets a couple of allies and they’re not consequence free anymore. As it is, I support what he’s doing, and would have given him my primary vote back in 2016 if he’d still been in the race by the time my state held its primary.

    3. Sorry that he’s not a Team Blue Osama Obama yo momma the llama mofo mofo mufaletta mama like you are.

      1. Osama Obama yo momma the llama mofo mofo mufaletta mama

        Damn, dude. Impressive.

      2. Nice.

    4. I’m getting a little tired of Rand Paul’s big showy announcements of pointless consequence-free votes.

      Cool. The only time people give big showy announcements is when they are pointless and consequence-free.

    5. Exactly. The only reason he is voting no is because it doesn’t matter.

      1. So he should vote “Yes?”

      2. He’ll probably end up voting ‘yes’ in the end, after Barr gives him assurances that “his views have changed.”

      3. What if it did matter? Is the next nominee likely better? Or worse? Or, as is usu. the case, better some ways, worse others?

    6. Is this the hat toss for Randal as Go-Pee Veep?

  4. the “nay” is appreciated

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  6. Any and all AG’s will pursue massive surveillance.

    What I want is an AG that will imprison Hillary.

    1. Bingo. I want a reign of terror against the democrat party and all their organizers and money people. I want the Clintons gone. I want Obama gone. I want Soros and his pups gone. And so many more. Every goddamn one of them belongs in a Supermax facility for the rest of their lives, or on the business end of a federal firing squad.

      For the sake of our constitutional republic, and our individual freedom, progressivism must be destroyed. Now and for all time.

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    1. Indeed. Very unsavory.

      1. I’ve never forgotten that Bush was responsible for taking the choke chain off the BATF, and telling them to sic ’em. Not just Ruby Ridge, Waco was planned on Bush’s watch, by people Bush put in place.

        Worst mistake Reagan ever made, picking Bush as his running mate for the second term. He could have picked some actual conservative to anoint his successor, instead of a guy he’d only picked in the first place to keep the RINOs from bolting.

        Loyalty is a virtue, but that was taking it to excess, he should have realized Bush would undo as much of his accomplishments as possible.

  10. The good thing about Republicans cross-dressing as counterfeit token Libertarians is that they occasionally have to fork over some useful information to keep up appearances–and cast useful votes on issues not core to nationalsocialism.

  11. Despite what he says, Rand, thankfully, isn’t a real republican.

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  13. A party of one defending our rights. So many Americans taking them for granted. Sad indeed.

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