Senate Intel member: Paul 'simply false' on NSA

Senate Intel member: Paul 'simply false' on NSA
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Members of the Senate will be on the hook if they are unable to renew expiring parts of the Patriot Act by the end of the day on Sunday, according to Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Chuck Todd on administration vacancies: 'Is this any way to run a government?' MORE (R-Ind.).

“There will be accountability for what our vote is and what we do," Coats — who sits on the chamber’s Intelligence Committee — said on Fox News on Sunday.

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“Going dark — losing a valuable tool that’s part of the effort of gathering intelligence, that helps keep Americans safe — is something that we’re going to be responsible for if we allow this to happen.”

In particular, Coats criticized 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 (R-Ky.) for “making statements that simply do not describe the program” run by the National Security Agency (NSA).

“What he’s said is that the government is literally collecting your emails, your buddy lists, the content of your calls — I think that is not the case at all,” Coats said.

“It is an important tool that has been so badly misrepresented.”

The NSA has controversially used one of the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, known as Section 215, to collect in bulk millions of records about Americans’ phone calls. The “metadata” records do not include people’s actual conversations, but instead list the numbers they dial, when the phone calls occurred and for how long.

However, the NSA has other programs that are able to pick up communications of Americans without a warrant, so long as they are picked up “incidentally” during a search for foreigners’ information.

Paul this weekend pledged to force the Senate to kill the laws, by preventing lawmakers from passing legislation by the time they run out at midnight.

The strategy has already made him a prime target for many hawks, who worry that he is handicapping American defenses while threats are on the upswing around the globe.  

“Something is amiss here, and I think people like Sen. Paul need to understand that we are living in a world of real threats to the American people, and his description of the program is simply false,” Coats said on Sunday.