Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) seemingly surprised NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday when the Presidential contender was a guest on NBC’s Meet the Press. The conversation between the two moved to the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, something that Senator Paul has been staunchly opposed to, and the NSA’s role in gathering intelligence when Senator Paul mentioned that he would NOT abolish the NSA if he were President.
I would actually keep the NSA. In fact, I would have the NSA target their activities more and more towards our enemies. I think if you are not spending so much time and money collecting the information of innocent Americans… I want to spend more time on people we have suspicion of and we have probable cause and less time on innocent Americans. It distracts us from the job of getting terrorists.
As the most libertarian of the 2016 Presidential candidates (other than the actual Libertarian candidate) I’m sure that many libertarian-leaning Republicans will be sad to hear that Senator Paul wouldn’t abolish the NSA. However, his comments on what the role of the NSA should play are perfectly in line with his libertarian philosophy. If the NSA isn’t collecting data from innocent Americans, then there really is no constitutional concern with what they are doing, because it is simply the government acting to protect our borders. So, while it may sound shocking at the outset, it’s really not a departure from what Senator Paul has been saying all along.
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: Let me move to the Patriot Act. We have reauthorizations up before June 1st. It’s unclear if it will get authorized at all before you guys go on your Memorial Day recess. Senator McConnell is talking about a two-month extension. I know you want to filibuster any Patriot Act extension. Would you even support a two-month extension?
SEN. RAND PAUL: Well, the court has ruled that the bulk collection of all phone records all the time is illegal. So really, it ought to stop. If the president is obeying the law, he should stop immediately. He shouldn’t be doing this.
I don’t think want to replace it with another system. I really think that we could get along with the constitution just fine. We did for over 200 years. You can catch terrorists. Judges will grant warrants. In fact, if you look at the history of our country, judges are actually very much, it’s not a difficult lift to get a warrant for most activities you want to be investigating. But the warrant should have someone’s name on it. It shouldn’t say Verizon and then we shouldn’t collect all the customers of Verizon. That’s a general warrant. That’s one of the things we fought the Revolutionary War over. We wanted individualized warrants.
TODD: You are so critical of the NSA in your book, I have to ask, would you eliminate it if you were president?
PAUL: No, I would actually keep the NSA. In fact, I would have the NSA target their activities more and more towards our enemies. I think if you are not spending so much time and money collecting the information of innocent Americans, maybe could have have spent more time knowing one of the Tsarnaev boys, one of the Boston bombers, had gone back to Chechnya.
We didn’t know that even though we had been tipped off by the Russians, we had communicated, we had interviewed him and still didn’t know that. Same with the recent jihadist from Phoenix that traveled to Texas and the shooting in Garland. We knew him. We had investigated him, we had put him in jail. I want to spend more time on people we have suspicion of and we have probable cause and less time on innocent Americans. It distracts us from the job of getting terrorists.