As he has been threatening to do for some time, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Dudebro) has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the National Security Agency’s collection of phone metadata. We’re sure this action is motivated by a sincere and profound belief that the NSA program violates the Fourth Amendment and is in no way a grandstanding political tactic to shore up his libertarian credentials before 2016…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Sorry, let’s try that again. Far be it from us to be cynical about a politician. Wait, that’s our job? Awesome! Let’s do that, then.
First, the suit: Paul and his lawyers (the lead attorney is our old friend Ken “Transvaginal Ultrasound” Cuccinelli, who is suddenly very concerned about citizens’ privacy) want the courts to rule on “whether a single warrant can apply to the records of every American phone user all the time, without limits, without individualization.” Except, as we noted last summer,
(T)he NSA can only collect phone numbers without a warrant. To actually look at the numbers in the giant database it has built up, the agency must get a warrant from the FISA court.
Now, whether the NSA is actually following the rules is a whole other kettle of fish, and one that can’t really be enforced by the courts, which spy agencies have a habit of manipulating or flat-out ignoring. If, as many have alleged, the NSA is continually violating its mandate, the solution is governmental oversight and reform of the NSA and the FISA court that has rubber-stamped thousands of the agency’s requests to search the metadata it has collected. Or hell, perhaps Paul could work on repealing the Patriot Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists, those old relics from the post-9/11 years from which the NSA has taken much of its authority to scoop up every phone record it can find? Those sorts of actions we could support!
Why does Rand Paul need the courts to settle this for him? Isn’t he, you know, a lawmaker? Way to punt on your sincerely held beliefs, Rand. We’re sure if every federal court up to the SCOTUS rules against you that you will accept their judgements and shut up and never talk about this again.
Second, it’s hard for us to take seriously a man who opens the above video with this:
Our Founders never intended for Americans to trust their government. Our entire Constitution was predicated on the notion that government was a necessary evil, to be restrained and minimized as much as possible.
Actually, our Constitution was predicated on the notion of self-government. It’s right there in the first sentence – the thesis statement, if you will – which starts off with “We the People.” Calling government a necessary evil is calling ourselves a necessary evil. And the people, despite constant carping, like having that necessary evil doing many of its necessary things.
The lesson of the American Revolution was that this should never happen again, and yet the NSA’s data collection program is the modern equivalent of this practice.
He’s talking here about how British soldiers during the Revolution would search peoples’ homes without warrants. The NSA is theoretically required to have a warrant to search its enormous collection of metadata for something specific. Go yell at FISA, Rand.
The Constitution is not a negotiable piece of parchment to be ignored or abused at the President’s whim.
Again, laws were passed that the NSA interprets as giving it legal authority under the Constitution to engage in certain practices. We do not trust the agency to knock it off on any court’s say-so. That is a job for oversight committees from…gasp…the legislative branch. If only Rand Paul were a member of that legislative branch! Oh wait…
And third, there is this from the Washington Post’s story about the suit:
All supporters who sign a petition supporting the NSA lawsuit will go to Paul’s campaign database.
Ah yes, trust Rand Paul with your email, America! And if he happens to have a database full of email addresses that he can use to spam you with campaign literature over the next couple of years, or rent out to other organizations to solicit you to sign up for newsletters or buy gold, that’s just the price of Freedom, baby!