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Rand Paul filibusters Patriot Act renewal and domestic spying

Rand Paul

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(NaturalNews) U.S Sen. Rand Paul, one of a growing field of Republican presidential hopefuls, has once more taken to the floor of the Senate to filibuster legislation aimed at preserving the government's current authority to conduct widespread electronic surveillance of Americans' communications.

In particular, Paul is railing against reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act's most controversial provisions, all of which are set to expire at the end of May. The most egregious of the measures, Sect. 215, has been cited by both the Bush and Obama Administrations as providing the authority to allow the National Security Agency to conduct its mass surveillance operations.

"It's time to end the NSA spying," Paul announced on his Twitter account as he began his effort around 1:18 pm EDT.

As reported by The Washington Times though, Paul is virtually alone in his effort:

Mr. Paul is waging a lonely fight, demanding that the government stop snooping without probable cause or a warrant. That's a step beyond even some of his other erstwhile civil libertarian allies who want to curtail the Patriot Act's bulk collection, but would still allow government agents to go after the records of individuals without first seeking a warrant.

Paul's history of standing up for liberty

That loneliness was underscored by the scene as it unfolded on the Senate floor in the middle of the day -- Paul was the only senator present, except for one Republican who is required to be in the presiding officer's chair, by Senate rules, to signify the chamber is in session.

The Times noted that Paul took to the floor armed with binders and file folders, and a glass of water that was mostly full. At times, he paced behind his desk in the chamber's right wing, sometimes perusing notes to find his place as he laid out in detail the Obama Administration's duplicity in keeping the NSA's surveillance program alive after taking office.

In recent days, the administration's top intelligence official told Congress that the NSA was not storing bulk records of Americans' phone data, though in fact that is exactly what the agency was doing under the NSA's program.

"I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged," Paul said as he began his speech.

The current filibuster is Paul's second. His first was a 13-hour mega-speech two years ago which was an attempt to force the Obama Administration to guarantee that it would not deploy drones to execute Americans on U.S. soil.

GOP leaders, administration, pushing for renewal

His battle to get rid of the Patriot Act in its current form pits him against his Kentucky constituent who is his senior: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though the two have worked together on other issues. For his part, McConnell wants to see the Patriot Act extended as is. He has claimed that widespread surveillance is now more necessary than ever given supposed growing terrorist threats around the globe.

As the Times further noted:

In between the two are a large group of senators who believe the Patriot Act should be curtailed to prevent bulk snooping, but who don't object to some of the powers being used against individuals the government believes are dangerous. Some of the other major names in the tea party movement, including Sens. Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, are on board that option, known as the USA Freedom Act, a bill that cleared the House earlier this month on an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

If that legislation fails, McConnell says he will insist that the Senate vote on at least a short-term extension of the Act in its entirety. Without at least that, the program would most likely have to be shut down, according to the Department of Justice, which has issued a warning to lawmakers.

Rand Paul's dramatic filibuster in defense of Americans' rights to privacy and security in their personal effects can be watched live here:





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