First, some ground rule suppositions: Yes, the NSA absolutely needs to be reined in to stop metadata collection and privacy abuses. Yes, the Senate NSA reform bill up for a vote yesterday was not perfect, but the bill would have stopped metadata collection in exchange for extending authorization to search existing phone records into 2017.
The bill failed to clear a Republican filibuster by two votes yesterday. 41 Republicans voted no.
Paul said he voted against the bill because it would have extended the Patriot Act provision that allows the NSA to search Americans’ phone records. He has consistently opposed the Patriot Act, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Leahy’s bill extended the provision’s expiration to June 2017 — as a compromise, in order to change the law to stop the NSA from holding onto phone records. Under Leahy’s bill, that duty would have been handed off to phone companies. The companies’ records could only have been searched with a surveillance court’s order.
While Paul said he “felt bad” that the bill failed, because it “probably needed my vote,” he also claimed the country was “one step closer to restoring civil liberties,” because the Patriot Act provision’s expiration date will not be extended.
Paul’s bedfellows on the vote to kill NSA reform made doomsaying predictions on the Senate floor, saying the legislation would allow Islamic State terrorists to perpetrate another 9/11.
The perfect became the enemy of the good here, and considering the vast majority of Republicans voted against this because SECRET TERRORISTS WILL KILL YOUR FAMILY, any bill to stop the NSA has even less of a chance in the next Congress.
The fact remains that Democrats put a bill up to stop the NSA, and it was Republicans who killed it. Whether or not you believe the bill was not robust enough, Republicans have assured zero action will take place to deal with privacy issues and the NSA.
And really it’s all about whether or not you take Rand Paul at his word, and as one of his constituents who has repeatedly seen his voting actions not match his rhetoric, I do not. He’s a liar and whenever possible he’s self-serving (I know, shocking right, a senator doing that.)
But that’s just it, Rand Paul loves to portray himself as a non-typical Republican senator who will see things get done on the issues of civil liberties. When given a perfect opportunity, he instead sided with typical neocon Republicans and spits out a lame excuse as to why, unless you believe that no NSA bill at all is “one step closer to restoring civil liberties” and all.
What he did was defuse a 2016 primary attack that he knows will be leveled at Ted Cruz: “He voted with Obama and the Democrats to weaken national security to help ISIS terrorists”. Paul’s trying to have it both ways and he always has, while the Democrats are the ones pushing for NSA reform.
No, the parties are not the same on civil liberties. And in the end, Rand Paul sided with the GOP because in the end, he’s a typical wingnut Republican. So don’t tell me he’s a “champion of civil liberties” when given the only real political opportunity for advocating for meaningful NSA reform ahead of an incoming GOP Senate that won’t even take a vote on the NSA in the next two years, he instead was a coward and a Glibertarian douchebag.