- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul plans to oppose a Senate bill to halt the NSA’s phone-snooping program on the grounds that it doesn’t go far enough.

“Sen. Paul does not feel that the current NSA reforms go far enough,” an aide said. “There are significant problems with the bill, the most notable being an extension of the Patriot Act through December 2017.”

The Kentucky Republican has been one of the most outspoken voices against the government’s surveillance techniques, going as far as suing the president over them earlier this year in a case that was later put on hold.

Under the program revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden, the government logged information about Americans’ phone calls and stored the data to track potential terrorist links. A revamped version of the bill would ban bulk collection of data and require the government to more selectively seek it.

The legislation from Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, has a broad array of supporters, ranging from Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, to Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican and a possible rival for Mr. Paul in the 2016 GOP presidential contest. Both men are co-sponsors of the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, took the first steps on Wednesday toward setting a final vote on the bill, which will have to pass the House or be reconciled with a House version before it gets sent to President Obama’s desk.

CNN first reported on Mr. Paul’s opposition to the bill on Friday.

The Obama administration has defended the program, saying it had approval of a special court and that it helps the country prevent terrorist attacks.

But Mr. Leahy’s legislation has attracted support from interest groups that range across the ideological spectrum, from the ACLU to the NRA. And Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and the author of the 2001 Patriot Act, has questioned the government’s interpretation of a section of the law it has used to justify the program.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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