Paul: ‘Founding Fathers would be mortified’ by NSA backers

Paul: ‘Founding Fathers would be mortified’ by NSA backers
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Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE has harsh words for defenders of the National Security Agency (NSA), who he said on Wednesday would leave the nation’s founders "mortified."

The Kentucky Republican and presidential candidate attacked defenders of the Patriot Act in a prelude to an intraparty brewing on Capitol Hill and among White House hopefuls.

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“Millions of people’s phone records are being collected,” Paul said while receiving an award from the Constitution Project on Wednesday evening.

“To my mind, the Fourth Amendment says you need to name an individual. I don’t know anybody named Mr. Verizon.”

Paul has been a vocal critic of the NSA and has vowed to vote against any legislation that reauthorizes three parts of the law set to expire on June 1. Among those provisions is Section 215, which the NSA has used to collect phone records about millions of people in the U.S. without warrants.

His potential rivals in the 2016 race have been more supportive of the spying powers.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), for instance, this week said that continuation of the program was “the best part of the Obama administration.” 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has similarly defended the NSA programs as an important instrument to track global terrorists.

During his remarks, however, Paul declined to criticize Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who 24 hours earlier introduced legislation that would renew provisions of the law without changes for more than five years. The surprisingly hawkish approach from Paul's fellow Kentuckian has encountered significant resistance from lawmakers who have demanded some changes in order to renew the existing provisions.

Paul did not mention McConnell's proposal during his speech on Wednesday. Afterward, he also refused to comment when approach by The Hill and other reporters.

Instead, he appeared to aim his fire at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), with whom he has often sparred.

“One unapologetic senator who I’ve had a few rounds with said,  ‘If you’re not talking to terrorists, why are you worried?’ ” Paul said. “Really? Have we stooped so low that that is our standard?”

“Our Founding Fathers would be mortified.”