WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives approves legislation Thursday that renews the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. Despite it’s name, the program was the focus of revelations from former security contractor Edward Snowden that revealed how extensively the program is used to spy on Americans without first obtaining warrants.
Sen. Rand Paul and others, including Democrats in the Senate, are leading the charge to amend the bill on the Senate floor with requirements that warrants are obtained before any surveillance of Americans.
Why? Well, because of that pesky list our Founders thought to include in our constitution – the Bill of Rights.
Paul has been a persistent leader in protecting American’s individual rights, much to the dismay of hawkish Republicans that insist making the program subject to limitations like the Bill of Rights would hinder the nation’s mission in protecting Americans.
You’ve got to violate Americans’ rights in order to protect Americans, their logic seems to be.
Paul was interviewed Thursday about his plans to filibuster any bill that does not include amendments to protect Americans’ right to privacy, as outlined in the fourth amendment.
“This program allows us to spy on foreigners in foreign lands with a less-than-constitutional standard or really with no constitutional standard. I’m OK with that.
What I’m not OK with is that millions of Americans are collected into this data system and that maybe rogue people at the FBI or our Justice Department could look at this database without a judge’s warrant. So we want a judge’s warrant.
So I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. You can be for the program and for the program with reforms.
This is an enormous power. You have to realize, we have the ability to soak up every phone call in Italy in one month. And apparently we did. So we have the ability to soak up most of the phone calls and conversations in the whole world. That power is so enormous that it needs to be limited and watched carefully. And I think a judge should be looking at this before you try to look at an America’s information.”
Just like the Orwellian-named Patriot Act, FISA does serious harm to the rights of you and me while advocates of the program issue blanket justification because it makes us safer. Whether it makes America safer on the whole is debatable. What is not debatable is that each and every individual American citizen is owed assurances that his or her rights are being protected, even when national security is the issue.
Read the rest of Paul’s interview here.