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  (Source: Columbia Pictures)
Senator Paul says general warrants are unconstitutional and must be stopped

Senator Randall Howard "Rand" Paul (R-Kent.) -- a contender for the White House in 2016 -- feels that the general warrants the the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on virtually every American with a mobile phone or internet are glaringly unconsitutional.  He rebukes the Obama administration's claims that in order to "secure the nation" it is necessary to capture your personal data and save it for 15 years in "temporary" storage

I. U.S. Senator Sues the Obama Administration

Such legal tactics -- treating the entire population as an investigation suspect and issuing a general warrant that covers hundreds of thousands, if not hundreds of millions of people -- have not been used in the U.S. since the British empire used them to try to bring their rebellious colonies back into line prior to the American revolution, Sen. Paul has pointed out.  And more alarmingly, the NSA has suggested that Congress can't be trusted, effectively admitting it spies on Congress for the President and military.


It is well established that the spying program wastes tens of billions a year
in taxpayer dollars with virtually no quantifiable security gains.  To put an end to it, Sen. Paul has joined with a handful of Senate Democrats -- including Sen. Ronald Lee "Ron" Wyden (D-Oreg.), U.S. Senator Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (D-Verm.), Sen. Mark Emery Udall (D-Colo.), Sen. Martin Trevor Heinrich (D-New Mexico), and Senator Patrick Joseph Leahy (D-Verm.) -- to draft legislation that would cut the funding of mass digital warfare campaigns against the American public.

In case the legislative effort fails, Senator Paul also opened a second front in his battle with the NSA today.

Senator Rand Paul and Freedomworks Sue the NSA by jasonmick



Along with Matt Kibbe, president of the conservative/libertarian advocacy FreedomWorks, Senator Paul has filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.



The suit focuses solely on the mining of metadata, which the NSA can use to track Americans' locations, who Americans are calling, and when those calls were placed.  Reports indicate that the NSA captures roughly 99 percent of calling metadata on any given day.  The lawsuit may also be interpreted as covering the data the NSA seizes from popular apps.

Senator Paul corrects the President's creative reinterpretation of Founding Father Paul Revere's ride to warn Americans of British forces, commenting:

The lesson of the American Revolution was that this should never happen again, and yet the NSA's data collection program is the modern equivalent of this practice... Paul Revere rode through the streets to tell us the British were coming, not the Americans are coming.

Paul Revere's ride
Paul Revere was spying for the people, not on the people. [Image Source: History.com]

Ken Cuccinelli is representing the potential class of plaintiffs (the U.S. people) in the case.  Mr. Cuccinelli had previously worked as the attorney general of Virginia, returning to law after coming up short in the gubernatorial race in fall 2013.

Ken Cuccinelli
Ken Cuccinelli will be representing Americans in the case.

The lawsuit is backed by money from both FreedomWorks and the RandPAC, Senator Paul's political action committee (PAC).  Senator Paul is willing to spend, in effect, his own money that could have been used in his potential 2016 presidential run to try to put an end to mass spying.

RandPAC officials state:

We have assembled a legal team and we expect to be opposed by the vast resources of the federal government, yet I am optimistic that we will prevail, because we are seeking to protect a cornerstone of the Constitution.

Freedomworks has disclosed a small financial relationship with Senator Paul.  It donated $5,000 USD during his 2012 Senate campaign, money it says was given due to his support of preserving civil liberties via conservative interpretation of the Constitution.

II. Lawsuits Push Issue Towards Supreme Court

The lawsuit names retiring/resigning NSA chief General Keith Brian Alexander; the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Gen. James Robert Clapper, Jr.; U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Brien Comey, Jr.; and U.S. President Barack Obama as defendants.

Obama

James Clapper

Keith Alexander

James Comey

The defendants: President Obama (top), DNI James Clapper (second), NSA director Keith Alexander (third), and FBI director James Comey (bottom) [Image Source: Reuters (Obama), AP (Clapper), Fox News (Alexander), Bloomberg (Comey)]

Both FreedomWorks and Senator Paul expect the case to be pushed to the U.S. Supreme Court level, as whoever loses at the federal district and appeal circuit level will likely continue to appeal until it reaches there.  They argue that the Supreme Court must offer a clear interpretation of the Fourth Amendment and how it applies to digital searches of Americans.  Comments Sen. Paul:

Ultimately,the Supreme Court will be arbiter of what the Fourth Amendment means.  We need to be asking these questions ... whether we get to [larger questions about the Patriot Act] in the court case I don't know.

They are not alone in the federal courts fight.

Senator Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul walks on chilly afternoon in Virginia. [Image Source: Getty Images]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- oft viewed as a more liberal counterpart of FreedomWorks, which nonetheless shares a great deal of common ground -- is also pushing a class action lawsuit towards the Supreme Court level.  ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer states to The Washington Post:

We agree that the NSA’s phone-records program is unconstitutional.  Mass surveillance of this kind infringes not just on privacy rights but on the freedoms of speech and association as well. We’ve advanced these arguments in our own lawsuit against the NSA, and over the next few weeks we’ll make them to a federal appeals court.

The ACLU case also focuses on the collection of phone data.

NSA Unchained
[Image Source: ACLU]

However, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in either case could in effect decide the fate of other controversial NSA domestic spying programs.  Currently, the NSA is reportedly working to endanger national security and Americans' finances by actively paying for the sabotage of global encryption.  It is also is accused of harvesting email and internet traffic to spy on Americans.  Last, but not least, it reportedly has been creating automated systems to attack Americans with malware.

Americans who want to get involved with the Freedomworks/Senator Paul class action suit are encouraged to go here to sign up.

Sources: RandPac, Rand Paul on YouTube, FreedomWorks, The Washington Post



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RE: About time.
By geddarkstorm on 2/12/2014 6:10:39 PM , Rating: 1
I was amazed during the SoTU address where he blatantly said if Congress didn't do or approve of what he wanted, he'd do what he wanted regardless -- laws be darned. Talk about stomping on the whole purpose of our checks and balances. Not to say there isn't historic precedence set by many other presidents (even Jefferson usurped congress's power to purchase the Louisiana territory), but to so frankly say it during a SoTU and basically attempt to strip congress of its power was unbelievable.


RE: About time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/12/2014 6:28:09 PM , Rating: 2
If you look throughout history, you'll find lots of tyrants and conquerors and Emperors who believed they were invested with the moral certainty to do what they needed to do, damn the costs or the consequences.

That is President Obama in a nutshell.

“No one is an unjust villain in his own mind. Even - perhaps even especially - those who are the worst of us. Some of the cruelest tyrants in history were motivated by noble ideals, or made choices that they would call 'hard but necessary steps' for the good of their nation. We're all the hero of our own story.”

Jim Butcher


RE: About time.
By NellyFromMA on 2/12/2014 8:48:46 PM , Rating: 1
Not saying you are right or wrong, but... Congress is so ineffective, tell me our government doesn't need SOME LEVEL or revision. Congress is dysfunctional, so frankly I'm happy we have a President who will do what he can despite those odds. I disagree with a lot of his policies but I completely think the lack of respect towards Congress is deserved due to their animated phony drama. One could argue Congress is most responsible for our divided nation.


RE: About time.
By geddarkstorm on 2/12/2014 9:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
That doesn't mean our government needs revision I'd say, in principle. Quite the opposite -- it needs to return to its principles. Two things: one, Congress was never supposed to be a career, but a temporary service; two, and most of all, Congress is the primary expression of our representative government, and it's lost that key word -- representative. This isn't true for all of the folks elected to congress, mind you! There are good ones, and the media really plays up the drama which biases our views (away from Congress, and in favor of the President).

However, representatives we elect are supposed to represent us, not their parties. And that's where it seems to go off the rails, to me. Instead of serving us, they just follow "the party line", their constituents be darned. Parties are kind of like unions, now, but in the bad sense. One can see their utility in grouping like minded ideologies for -national- level and foreign affair discussions, where matters are beyond just ones constituents; but sadly, parties dictate what most representatives think like some sort of mammoth brain washing machine. They have become a force to simply perpetuate themselves. Even the ideals they were supposed to be founded on have become lost in craziness, mostly.

Either way, unless Congress is really heel dragging and stalling some matter of national security in the domain of the Executive branch's control, even with as messy as it is now, the problems in congress does not give the President the right to buck our system of governance and the Constitution.

Sometimes you just have to bare with the bickering children, but you should never stoop to their level... or worst.


RE: About time.
By NellyFromMA on 2/21/2014 1:07:02 PM , Rating: 2
Without citizens that believe they can contribute to the decisions of it's government in any meaningful way, our government principles mean nothing. That is why things are as they are to begin with. The erosion of our role and say so in our own lives relative to the role and say so of the corporations around us..


RE: About time.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/12/2014 9:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Congress is dysfunctional, so frankly I'm happy we have a President who will do what he can despite those odds.


Do you even know what you're saying??? You cannot be this dense!

You speak of Congress as if they're there to do the President's bidding. And if they cannot execute that charge, they are "dysfunctional".

quote:
Congress is so ineffective


An "effective" Government leads to tyranny. Our Founders knew this, which is why Congress is, BY DESIGN, inefficient.

Congress was also meant to have a limited scope of responsibilities. The reason Congress, and our Government, is so ineffective is because they've usurped more power and control than they can effectively manage! Every single aspect of the peoples lives in this country is directed, managed, and influenced -if not directly controlled- by the Federal Government. That was NEVER supposed to happen.

Our "dysfunctional" Congress has been the only thing keeping this monster even partly in check! They've already conceded too much.

quote:
One could argue Congress is most responsible for our divided nation.


And thank god we ARE divided. That means there's at least ~40% of us who aren't complete morons.


RE: About time.
By NellyFromMA on 2/21/2014 1:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
Far from dense, actually. I just value other people's perspectives and try to make my own evaluations based on my own personal experiences.

quote:
And thank god we ARE divided. That means there's at least ~40% of us who aren't complete morons.


Isn't that statement the entire problem right there? It's so each to sit there and bash people. Try being constructive. It's a real challenge for many. Thank god we are divided? That's terribly short-sighted...

I presume you just straight up don't play well with others. To each their own.


RE: About time.
By FITCamaro on 2/14/2014 8:53:05 AM , Rating: 2
Congress isn't just supposed to just all get along numbnuts. Our founders wanted things to be difficult. Not just everyone to agree all the time. Even the founders themselves disagreed a lot and it nearly came to duels on several occasions.


RE: About time.
By NellyFromMA on 2/21/2014 1:08:52 PM , Rating: 2
Guy, first of all, why think of my nuts when we were discussing government. You're really quite strange.

Oddities aside, I don't need or want congress to "agree all the time". I want to effectively legislate which it cannot due to the stated dysfunction. Please tell me how I'm wrong.


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