Snowden: Paul filibuster represents ‘sea change’

Snowden: Paul filibuster represents ‘sea change’
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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFirst responder calls senators blocking 9/11 victim funding 'a--holes' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Jon Stewart rips into Rand Paul after he blocks 9/11 victim compensation fund: 'An abomination' MORE’s (R-Ky.) 10-hour floor speech opposing the Patriot Act represents a “sea change” in Congress, government leaker Edward Snowden said Thursday.

Slightly more than 12 hours after Paul — a presidential candidate in 2016 — finished his marathon lambasting of the post-9/11 security law, Snowden took to Reddit to take questions about Congress’s debate over the National Security Agency (NSA). 

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“Whatever you think about Rand Paul or his politics, it's important to remember that when he took the floor to say 'No' to any length of reauthorization of the Patriot Act, he was speaking for the majority of Americans — more than 60% of whom want to see this kind of mass surveillance reformed or ended,” Snowden wrote, citing a recent poll released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Paul’s speech came amid an intensifying Senate battle over the Patriot Act, ahead of the expiration of three key provisions at the end of the month.

While Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top Republicans want to renew the law without change, Paul and others have demanded serious reforms.

Paul was joined during his remarks by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — another White House candidate — among others, as they lambasted the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records and other data.

McConnell is trying “to sneak through a reauthorization of what courts just weeks ago declared was a comprehensively unlawful program,” Snowden wrote. Earlier this month, a federal appears court declared the NSA’s phone records program was illegal, though it declined to halt it in light of the looming congressional action.

“[I]f you notice that [your senator] did not take to the floor with [Paul], you should call them right now and ask them to vote against any extension of the Patriot Act, because the final vote to occur during the dark of a holiday weekend,” Snowden told Reddit users.

During the “Ask Me Anything” session, Snowden also accused Congress of being deaf to the public’s calls to act.

“Out of all groups expressing a policy preference within society, the views of the public at large are given the very least weight, whereas those of economic elites (think bankers, lobbyists, and the people on the Board of Directors at defense contracting companies) exercise more than ten times as much influence on what laws get passed — and what laws don't,” he wrote.

On Thursday morning, McConnell set the schedule for a rare Saturday vote on opposing bills to reform the NSA and to keep its current program intact. It is unclear whether either piece of legislation has the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. 

Snowden has been living in Russia for nearly two years after escaping with his massive trove of classified documents. He is wanted on espionage charges in the U.S.