Rand Paul has taken a bold step against the NSA's collection of "metadata" from U.S. citizens. He announced today that he has filed a historic lawsuit against the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Keith Alexander, FBI Director James Comey, and Barack Obama himself, according to Fox News.
Paul is asking for the collection of "metadata", supposedly only what numbers were dialed from where, to be proven unconstitutional and ceased. He says such data collection violates the Fourth Amendment.
He said in an opinion piece for CNN, "Americans do not like to think of their government as some Orwellian leviathan, engaging in surveillance tactics that we only expect to see in oppressive autocracies. That such surveillance could be going on in what is ostensibly the freest nation in the world is a chilling thought indeed."
"There's a huge and growing swell of protest in this country of people who are outraged that their records would be taken without suspicion, without a judge's warrant and without individualization," Paul said, at the press conference in Washington during which he made the announcement.
The NSA has insisted the whole time that the privacy of American citizens is thoroughly protected. They say that the contents of such calls are not recorded, and that what they are doing is safely within legal boundaries. "We remain confident that the program is legal, as at least 15 judges have previously found," a Justice Department spokesperson said Wednesday.
Paul disagrees. He states that this "metadata" that is assumed to be harmless actually "reveals a wealth of detail" about Americans' personal and professional associations "that are ordinarily unknown to the government."
It's not only Senator Paul that is taking this stand against data collection. In fact, he said hundreds of thousands of people have joined, and he thinks that the suit could "conceivably represent hundreds of millions of people who have phone lines in this country."
He later stated in his Opinion piece, "We are told that these intrusive and unconstitutional measures are necessary to protect us from the forces of international terrorism. We are told that a surrender of our privacy rights is a small price to pay for the knowledge that we can sleep safe and secure in our beds."
Paul continued, "We reject this premise. We are committed to a safe America, but we do not accept the notion that a surveillance state is necessary to safeguard the lives and liberty of American citizens."
Wow. This ought to be interesting.
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