WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., claims that President Barack Obama has been “disingenuous” about ending the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.
Speaking to “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, the Republican presidential candidate says Obama can end the NSA program at any time if he so chooses.
“Here’s the thing about the president – he’s disingenuous about this. The president started the program through executive order, he can end it at any time,” Paul told “CBS This Morning.” “The Second Court of Appeals – the court right below the Supreme Court – said that it’s illegal. Why doesn’t he stop it? What’s he waiting for? He says, ‘Oh, Congress can stop it.’ He started it on his own, he should stop it. And I’ve asked the president repeatedly to stop the program.”
Paul took to the Senate floor for more than 10 hours last week, opposing the reauthorization of key parts of the Patriot Act. In a chaotic scene during the wee hours of Saturday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill known as the USA Freedom Act, which would have ended the NSA’s bulk collection but preserved its ability to search the records held by the phone companies on a case-by-case basis. The bill was backed by Obama, House Republicans and the nation’s top law enforcement and intelligence officials.
“What I’m looking for right now is to see if the other side will negotiate. All I asked for was two amendments at a simple majority vote, so I’m not being unreasonable,” Paul stated. “I would like to have a vote on ending bulk collection. I think we can win that vote.”
The Kentucky senator believes the Founding Fathers would back him in his fight against the NSA.
“Our Founding Fathers thought it was very important that warrants have an individual’s name on it — that you couldn’t have a warrant that said Verizon on it and collect all the records of all the people in America through one single warrant,” Paul said. “So I think I’m right in line with what the founders would’ve fought for. I’m proud of the fight.”
Paul also touched on his relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the two stand on opposite sides of the NSA issue.
“I don’t think we need counseling yet,” Paul joked. “We have a very personable relationship. We are friends and we get along fine. On the NSA thing, we are on opposite sides. I think we both keep it very civil. I’ve not had any harsh words with him, or him with me, and I’m still hoping we can find an arrangement that ends bulk collection. If they are able to defeat me and reauthorize it, that may well occur, but it will only happen if they let me have a vote on ending bulk collection.”
Barring an 11th hour compromise when the Senate returns to session May 31, a much-debated provision of the Patriot Act – and some other lesser known surveillance tools – will sunset at midnight that day. The change also would have a major impact on the FBI, which uses the Patriot Act and the other provisions to gather records in investigations of suspected spies and terrorists.
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