Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, slammed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—a likely 2016 candidate who hasn’t announced yet that he’s running—for agreeing with President Barack Obama on the National Security Agency (NSA) data collection program. The program was ruled illegal by a federal appeals court on Thursday, prompting a likely Supreme Court battle soon—something Paul expects to win.
“Well I think I’m the only Republican or Democrat candidate for the presidency who has said that I would end the bulk collection of records on day one,” Paul said in his interview with Breitbart News on Thursday.
It was started by executive order and I would do it by executive order. The thing that’s been disingenuous by the president is his privacy committee says he should end it, and he says “okay, I’ll end it when Congress does it.”
Well, it was started by executive order—it can be ended by executive order. I’m the only presidential candidate who has said that I would do this. There are in fact some that are completely the opposite. Jeb Bush has said that he’s basically so much in love with the program that he’s complimenting the president and saying this is the best thing President Obama ever did. So if Jeb Bush and President Obama are in complete agreement on this, I think it’s important that maybe we talk about a Republican candidate who would be opposed to President Obama on this.
Back in February in a foreign policy speech in Chicago, Jeb Bush sided with Obama in favor of the NSA data collection program.
“That [fighting against terrorism] requires responsible intelligence-gathering and analysis, including the NSA metadata program, which contributes to awareness of potential terrorist cells and interdiction efforts on a global scale,” Bush said then. “For the life of me, I don’t understand [how] the debate has gotten off track, where we’re not understanding and protecting—we do protect our civil liberties, but this is a hugely important program to use these technologies to keep us safe.”
He’s since many times further backed up Obama’s data collection program.
“I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using, you know, the big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced,” Bush said in mid-April while appearing on Michael Medved’s radio program. “Even though he never defends it, even though he never openly admits it, there has been a continuation of a very important service, which is the first obligation I think of our national government is to keep us safe.”
In March, Bush also appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program to say that he was “nervous” about criticism of the NSA program—and he argued that it is essential to national security and fighting things like “lone wolf terrorism.”
Such types of terrorism, Bush said there, “is a serious threat in a world where we’re so connected with the rest of the world.”
“We have people moving in and people moving out,” Bush said.
People get their information now, not everybody gets to listen to your show to get all their information. People get their information in different ways. They get disaffected, disillusioned, preyed upon, and so yeah, I think that this is an ongoing threat, and I hope that our counterintelligence capabilities are always vigilant. I’ve always been nervous about the attacks on the NSA, and somehow that we’re losing our freedoms by keeping the homeland safe. I think we need to be really vigilant about that.
But Paul, in his interview on Thursday with Breitbart News, replied flatly “no” when asked if getting federal agents to get a warrant for those they’re seeking information on would jeopardize national security.
“I think you’re protecting liberty, you’re protecting the bill of rights, and the thing is is that if there’s any kind of problem with the warrant process I’d be for reforming that,” Paul said.
So for example, when it comes to crime, judges are on call 24 hours a day. In Washington, D.C., if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning tonight and the police think there’s a rapist or a murderer inside a house, the police will wake a judge up at 3 a.m. The same thing could happen if we have an event like that happening at 3 a.m. on terrorism—you call the judge and you get the warrant. But you have to ask the judge for the permission, and you have to present some evidence.
If it’s at 3 a.m., usually you show up with some written documentation the next day. These are things that are hurdles that law enforcement has to go through—and the reason we do this is to prevent systemic problems like we saw throughout the civil rights era. We collected, indiscriminately—without good valid warrants—records on tens of thousands of people who were protesting on civil rights and were protesting against the Vietnam War and I don’t want that situation to ever happen again.