Maybe it was Senator Rand Paul's perceived influence on the Republican National Committee’s recent denouncement of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance that prompted the New York Times to publish a major hit piece on him and the intellectual company he keeps.
Late last month, by a voice vote, the RNC approved adoption of a “Resolution To Renounce The National Security Agency’s Surveillance Program.”
The resolution calls the NSA’s dragnet, warrantless collection of metadata of millions of Americans “an invasion into the personal lives of American citizens that violates the right of free speech and association afforded by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.” Declaring also that “the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Many regard the resolution as a rejection of Bush-era expansion of the federal domestic surveillance apparatus, and consider Senator Paul the primary motivation for the shift in philosophy.
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday in June of last year, Paul announced plans to file a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration, demanding it provide legal justification for the recently revealed wholesale watching of millions of citizens not suspected of any crime.
“I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level,” Paul said, according to the show transcript. He continued, “I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying, "We don’t want our phone records looked at," then somebody will wake up and say things will change in Washington."
When asked by host Chris Wallace why he considered the NSA’s surveillance unconstitutional, Paul responded:
Well, you know, they're looking at a billion phone calls a day is what I read in the press and that doesn't sound to me like a modest invasion of privacy. It sounds like an extraordinary invasion of privacy. The Fourth Amendment says you can look at and ask for a warrant specific to a person, place and the items.
This is a general warrant. This is what we objected to and what our Founding Fathers partly fought the revolution over is they did not want generalized warrants where you could go from house to house with soldiers looking for things or now from computer to computer, to phone to phone, without specifying who you're targeting.
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Photo of Sen. Rand Paul: AP Images