Paul: Senators fear intelligence community is 'drunk with power'

Greg Nash

Senators are beginning to fear that the intelligence community has become "drunk with power," according to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

In excerpts of a speech Paul is set to deliver Wednesday night at the University of California, Berkeley, the senator will say he is worried about who is actually in charge of the government.

ADVERTISEMENT
Citing recent accusations that the CIA illegally accessed computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, Paul will say he is concerned that "if the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them?"

“I don't know about you, but I'm worried," he will say. "If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them? I look into the eyes of senators and I think I see real fear. Maybe it's just my imagination, but I think I perceive fear of an intelligence community drunk with power, unrepentant and un-inclined to relinquish power.

"I am honestly worried — concerned about who is truly in charge of our government. Most of you have read the dystopian nightmares and maybe, like me, you doubted that it could ever happen in America.”

Paul's office has said his speech at the traditionally liberal university is an example of his attempts to engage people outside the Republican base. Paul has consistently talked about the need to grow the party in order to win future presidential elections.

The university has billed the event as a discussion on domestic security, the National Security Agency and privacy.

Paul has been a vocal critic of the intelligence community, in particular the National Security Agency program that collects phone metadata — call times, numbers and durations — on millions of Americans. Earlier this year, he spearheaded a class-action lawsuit, claiming the program violated the Fourth Amendment.

But after the CIA flap last week, he took a shot at the agency as well, saying this kind of thing should not happen in a free country.

He categorized the CIA’s actions as a significant constitutional breach and an example of the arrogance of an agency that would "spy" on the committee that oversees it.

A number of Democrats have spoken out about the issue.

In a blistering floor speech last week, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the agency of illegally accessing computers used by her committee at a CIA site set up for staffers to cull through documents associated with the George W. Bush-era interrogation program.

She said the CIA likely violated the Fourth Amendment and other federal laws. The Justice Department is looking into the matter.

CIA Director John Brennan has denied the CIA spied on Senate staffers and the agency has filed its own criminal complaint with the Justice Department, which Feinstein has called an intimidation tactic.

Paul's office confirmed the remarks at the university, which were first released to Politico

More in Blog Briefing Room

Paul: 'I blame' Clinton for ISIS conflict

Read more »