Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator that has the spotlight shown upon him for his nearly 13-hour filibuster over U.S. Drone usage on American citizens, has again gone on another lengthy filibuster. This time, the topic was the much maligned, contentious counter-terrorism tool, the USA PATRIOT Act. In long-form, the bill is actually called Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.
According to the Washington Post, Senator Rand Paul, M.D., spoke for an 11-hour filibuster, starting around 1:00 p.m. Wednesday and ending around midnight Thursday. Eight hours of the Rand Paul filibuster can be found on YouTube. Rand Paul framed the filibuster and debate as a violation of the 4th Amendment, and much like Ben Franklin, spoke against the idea of “giving up a little liberty for safety…”
“Are you really willing to give up your liberty for security?”
He was joined by Democrat senators Martin Heinrich, Steve Daines, Joe Manchin III, Richard Blumenthal, Maria Cantwell, Christopher A. Coons, Ron Wyden, and Jon Tester, who all joined Senator Rand Paul in support of his filibuster.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) also gave Paul a break on the floor, but only to push for the USA FREEDOM Act. A bill, also known as Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring Act, that many believe does not go far enough.
The Patriot Act, one of the most visible representations of the post-9/11 American security apparatus that brought about Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has been a topic of extreme contention for concerned Americans since Edward Snowden released a vast swath of secret information on the capabilities of the U.S. Government’s vast surveillance network.
Republican hawks have called Patriot Act a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism, but privacy advocates in their own party, libertarians, the A.C.L.U., and some Democrats have framed the act as a warrantless, unconstitutional government overstep.
In fact, according to the Inquisitr, the A.C.L.U. commissioned a survey that resulted in 60 percent of Americans want the act modified. The split was 27 percent “somewhat”, and 33 percent “strongly” wanted it modified, while 34 percent wanted to preserve it as is.
“Section 215,” as USA Today points out, grants the U.S. government the ability to collect bulk data. It was also part of Edward Snowden’s leaks that had its existence denied in an open proceeding by N.S.A. Director James Clapper.
Senator Wyden directly asked him whether or not they collected the information, in which Director shook his head. He asked a second time, and answered “not wittingly.” Wittingly is defined as “intentional.”
The allegedly temporary U.S.A. Patriot Act technically predates Rand Paul, his filibuster, James Clapper, and George W. Bush. The first incarnation of the Patriot was a bill written by then-Senator Joe Biden, called the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act of 1995, in response to the Oklahoma City bombings. He also laid claim to the comparison in 2001 during the Patriot Act debates.
Senator Rand Paul completed his filibuster without a specific stoppage to the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, or of the USA FREEDOM Act. However, it has brought segments of both Republicans and Democrats together during the filibuster, and more public debate.
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[Image via C-SPAN]