Cover image from blogger Nice Deb
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) bid to renew the Patriot Act more or less as it is took another hit over the weekend. The junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has threatened to filibuster the Patriot Act if amendments are not made to safeguard first and fourth amendment rights regarding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) telephone metadata collection program that was declared unconstitutional last week.
Writing an op-ed in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Senator Paul states:
Opponents of civil liberties argue the NSA data collection program has made our country more secure, but even the most enthusiastic defenders of the program have not been able to give a single example of a terrorist attack foiled by the government overreach.
The NSA should keep a close watch on suspected terrorists in order to keep our country safe, but when we forfeit our liberties we allow the terrorists to win. The sacrifice of our personal liberty for security is and will forever be a false choice, and I refuse to relinquish our Constitutional rights to opportunistic and overreaching politicians.
This, of course, counters the ideas and sentiments that run along the lines of “If I’m doing nothing wrong, I have nothing to worry about,” and “whatever it takes to keep us safe.” At the same time, those ideologies sacrifice freedom for safety, and most probably unnecessarily at this point since the terrorists themselves are now communicating via public electronic platforms.
Word began to surface late last week that members of the senate were lining up either for or against the Patriot Act along the lines of these thought processes and not by any means by party. After “NSA Court Spanking Sets Stage For HUGE Patriot Act Fight On Capitol Hill” was published, Sen Harry Reid came out against the Patriot Act based on the constitutional issues, as did Democrat Ron Wyden, and Republicans Mike Lee and Ted Cruz offering an alternative to the Patriot Act itself that Sen. McConnell will not even entertain.
The plain and simple fact is, as it is being used today, Section 215 of the Patriot Act is blatantly illegal and has been found to be in violation of the First and Fourth Amendments by a federal court. Senator Rand Paul recognizes that and wants to see this aspect of the Patriot Act changed, so he is threatening a filibuster that will require McConnell to muster 60 votes in order to override it.
Grab the popcorn. We’re about to see a good, old fashioned rights fight.