Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who sued the NSA last year over its bulk data collection program, said a federal appeals panel’s Thursday ruling that the program is probably illegal and can’t be justified under the Patriot Act is a “big deal” and that he doesn’t know of anyone caught or stopped as a result of it.
“I would, as president, immediately stop the bulk collection of records — I think it’s unconstitutional; the court now says it’s illegal,” he said Thursday evening on Fox News’ “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.” “So I would not collect phone records without a warrant with someone’s name on it, with the items we were looking for and with probably cause, so I would end the program we have of bulk collection immediately.”
Congress has to decide this month whether to renew Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the judges called into question and which allows federal agents to make businesses turn over records without having to get regular court warrants.
Supporters of the data collection program include Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, one of Mr. Paul’s rivals for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.
“I know of no one that was ever caught or stopped from this program,” Mr. Paul said. “They say it was used in conjunction with other information, but typically we have information of an individual, like the guy that did the shooting from Phoenix — we knew his name. I’m all for looking at his information. I’m for calling a judge and [saying], ‘we know this guy Simpson in Phoenix and he’s doing x, will you give us a warrant to look at his phone?’ If I were the judge, I would have said yes. But I don’t want to look at everybody’s phone records in Phoenix — I want to look at the guy that we have probable cause to look at his records.”