A1SkepticWell, you have to give Senator Rand Paul credit for the following: unlike a lot of his Republican brethren, at least he’s consistent. He doesn’t want the government in our lives, and that includes the security apparatus of the government created after 9-11 through the Patriot Act. In accordance with his principles, he blocked the automatic renewal of certain provisions of the Patriot Act before they expired.
As many of you may remember, the provisions of the Patriot Act that ostensibly allowed the government to collect records of all the phone calls we make, ran out on May 31st. This is the practice that Edward Snowden exposed. That phone information is what is known as “metadata,” or information about which numbers were called by which phones, and the length of the calls, but not the contents of the phone calls. Those were not recorded, even by the government.
The House, in an almost unheard of show of bipartisanship, passed a bill — the “USA Freedom Act” — that would allow the telephone companies to keep and store these records, and to release them to the government only upon the showing of a warrant. Now the Senate has to decide whether they are going to follow the lead of the House. They have to decide quickly, because at this moment, as I write this, the federal government no longer has the authority to collect metadata about our phone records.
By the way, for my money Edward Snowden is an American hero. I know many people, especially in the establishment, view him as a traitor. But his whistleblowing allowed us, as a nation, to have the conversation that we needed to have: whether or not we want the United States government collecting the phone records of every person, citizen or non-citizen, in this country.
I can live with the compromise proposed by the House. And let me tell you, it’s not often that I can say that I could live with a Republican-engineered compromise. But I really can see the utility of being able to track who calls which numbers, so that when the government does become aware of the numbers of known terrorists, they can track who that person is calling and who is calling them. And while I hardly love the phone companies, I actually would rather have them store that information than just having it all with the government.
You know, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
So kudos to Rand Paul for taking a stand. I’m still not going to vote for him for President — that has mostly to do with many of his other positions — but I can at least respect him for his consistency.