In response to President Barack Obama’s speech announcing reforms he intends to undertake regarding the National Security Agency’s collection of metadata, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Friday nothing will fundamentally change and the privacy of Americans will still be under assault.
Obama said in a speech that the NSA would have to go to a FISA court and the government would not store the broad amount of data that it currently does. This led Paul to say that he did not want private entities storing data that should not be collected in the first place. Paul suggested the private data of Americans would not be any more secure if stored by private, third-party companies than by the government.
“What I think I heard was that, ‘If you like your privacy you can keep it,'” Paul said on CNN, in reference to Obama’s infamous promise to Americans during the Obamacare debate that Americans could keep their health insurance if they liked their plans, which has not turned out to be the case.
Paul said Obama, in citing Paul Revere during his speech, “misunderstands the lessons of the American Revolution.” He said that Paul Revere was warning Americans that the British were coming, not that the Americans were coming. He explained that the the Fourth Amendment was written in response to the general warrants that the British soldiers were writing – like the National Security Agency is writing today – that allowed soldiers to write their own warrants and then search the private homes of Americans.
According to Paul, warrants have to be individualized because Americans did not want the British, or anyone, setting up dragnets by which everyone’s information was held.
“What he’s talking about is a different kind of country than our Founding Fathers envisioned,” Paul said of Obama.
As Breitbart News reported, Paul will be leading a class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of Americans over the NSA’s spying. He emphasized that he did not hear of “any lessening of spying” or collecting data from Americans from Obama’s speech.
Paul heard Obama as essentially saying, “Trust me,” but “we are going to keep collecting” phone, email, text, and credit card records.
“This is something that is going to have to be decided by the Supreme Court,” Paul said.
In response to a panel of privacy advocates that Obama suggested may appear before a FISA court, Paul said the NSA and the Executive Branch cannot oversee themselves and that there needs to be an adversarial process to put checks on the administration. He said the investigation of the IRS agents that targeted Tea Party groups (the Obama administration appointed a campaign donor to lead the investigation) was proof that public advocates who work for the government really do not hold the administration accountable.
Paul said Obama is “not going to fundamentally change any of this.” He emphasized that many Americans believe that it is an “invasion of our privacy to have our emails and text messages” and likely credit card information collected “unless you get a warrant from a judge for a specific person.”
Paul said this “unlimited power” to spy and collect data on Americans needs to be reined in and that he is working on legislation to limit those powers.