Rand Paul to oppose NSA reform bill


Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) won’t support an upcoming bill to reform the National Security Agency (NSA) without changes to strengthen it, an aide told The Hill on Friday.

“Sen. Paul does not feel that the current NSA reforms go far enough,” the aide said in an email.

{mosads}“There are significant problems with the bill, the most notable being an extension of the Patriot Act through December 2017.”

The USA Freedom Act, which the Senate will take up next week, would end the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata about Americans’ phone calls, among other changes. Metadata includes the numbers people dial as well as the length and frequency of their calls, but not the actual content of their conversations.

Crucially for Paul, however, the bill also reauthorizes until the end of 2017 key portions of the Patriot Act set to expire next June.

Paul is a noted critic of intelligence agencies’ surveillance programs and could try to mount a legislative attack on the bill, written by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), when it hits the floor next week. 

In addition to possible amendments to the Patriot Act, he is also rumored to be considering a measure that would allow more Americans to sue the NSA and other agencies.

The issue of standing has been a key one for Paul, who himself has filed a class-action lawsuit against the NSA over its phone records program.

Paul’s reticence to back the bill could spell trouble for Leahy’s efforts to get it enacted this year, more than a year after Edward Snowden first revealed details about the NSA. Other civil libertarians such as Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) have expressed reservations about the bill being too weak. Defense hawks on the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, have warned that it goes too far and could handicap U.S. surveillance.

Still, the bill has won broad bipartisan support from lawmakers including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a potential challenger to Paul, who is rumored to make a bid for president in 2016.

Tags Rand Paul USA Freedom Act

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