Rand Paul Wants To Force Expiration Of The Patriot Act. Here’s How He Plans To Do It

by KAY STEIGER –

Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a plan to Politico on Saturday to force a delay that would allow key provisions of the Patriot Act, which greenlight an expansive domestic spying program run by the National Security Agency, to expire.

“I have fought for several years now to end the illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans. The callous use of general warrants and the disregard for the Bill of Rights must end,” the presidential candidate said in his statement. “So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program.”

The Senate plans to hold a vote on a modification of the program that already passed by the house in a rare Sunday vote.

The legislation has been the subject of contentious debate in Congress, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stalled on a bill the House passed to change some of the objectionable provisions in the program. He wants to continue the original provisions of the patriot act, but with the key provisions of the law set to sunset on June 1, he now has little choice. The USA Freedom Act, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, would eliminate the authority of the NSA to conduct dragnet data collection on Americans.

The program, brought to light by former NSA programmer Edward Snowden, has already been found unconstitutional by a federal court and the NSA itself says that it has begun to shut down its massive surveillance program to comply with the law after a failed Senate vote last week.

President Barack Obama said Friday that the Senate should “put politics aside” and pass the USA Freedom Act. “This is a matter of national security. Terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow. And we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe. It would be irresponsible. It would be reckless. And we shouldn’t allow it to happen,” he said.

Many privacy activists view even a temporary suspension of the program a victory, saying that it will demonstrate that the “sky doesn’t fall” without massive domestic data collection.

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress