- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 30, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said Saturday that he would make sure Patriot Act surveillance authorities lapse. The Kentucky senator said on Twitter that he would “force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program.”

Key anti-terrorist programs authorized by the Patriot Act are scheduled to shut down if Congress fails to extend the act by midnight Sunday night. 

The Senate has three options to keep sections of the Patriot Act from expiring. They can pass a temporary extension of the act, pass the USA Freedom Act, which would end the NSA’s ability to use phone records for bulk data collection, or pass a revised version of the USA Freedom Act. 

Mr. Paul, who filibustered the act for nearly 11 hours last week, outlined his past steps designed to stop what he called the unconstitutional use of general warrants and his plans to make sure the NSA program would not continue.  

Forcing us to choose between our rights and our safety is a false choice and we are better than that as a nation and as a people,” Mr. Paul tweeted. “It’s why I have been seeking for months to have a full, open and honest debate on this issue — a debate that never came.”

“Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security. I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies. But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not,” Mr. Paul tweeted. “There has to be another way. We must find it together. So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program.”

President Obama warned against allowing a lapse in authorities in his weekly address, referencing Mr. Paul

“A small group of senators is standing in the way. And, unfortunately, some folks are trying to use this debate to score political points. But this shouldn’t and can’t be about politics. This is a matter of national security. Terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow,” Mr. Obama said. “And we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe. It would be irresponsible. It would be reckless. And we shouldn’t allow it to happen.”

Unlike his filibuster last week, Mr. Paul does not have to hold the floor to make sure the Patriot Act isn’t renewed. He just has to offer his objections as the Senate runs on unanimous consent. 

Mr. Paul said that his objections would serve as a precursor to a broad debate in Congress about surveillance powers. 

“I am ready and willing to start the debate on how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty,” Mr. Paul tweeted. 

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