While speaking in Iowa in an attempt to appeal to conservative Republicans in the caucus state, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) slid a light jab in the direction of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over the NSA’s controversial metadata collection program.
The New York Times reports that although Cruz has announced previously that he would not engage in mudslinging and personal attacks on fellow candidates, he proceeded to make clear his disappointment in Paul’s vote against the USA Freedom Act.
“At first, he stated that “Rand Paul is a good friend of mine, he and I have fought side by side many times,” but then Mr. Cruz recalled an attempt in the Senate to overhaul the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects records of Americans’ phone calls in bulk. When the vote came up in November, he said, “Unfortunately Rand voted no.”
At the time, Mr. Paul said the bill did not go far enough in curbing the N.S.A., while Mr. Cruz said it was imperative to protect the Bill of Rights.”
Sen. Paul has made clear of his reasons for voting against the USA Freedom Act, which pertained to a provision, which would have reauthorized the Patriot Act through 2017, which Sen. Ted Cruz voted for.
“I’m against that,” Paul says. “There is a right to privacy and the government needs to stay out. If they want to look at your information, if they want to collect any of your data, they should do it with a judge’s warrant with probable cause if they think you have committed a crime.”
“I will vote for the Freedom Act as long as it doesn’t include reauthorization of the Patriot Act,” he says.
However, Ted Cruz’s comments have not gone unnoticed by those who know better regarding Sen. Paul’s stance on the NSA and metadata collection.
Senator Paul has not been the only civil libertarian in Congress who has spoken out and acted against the USA Freedom Act. In fact, Justin Amash, one of the original co-sponsors of the bill ended up voting against it because of how watered down it had become by the time it had reached the House floor for a vote.
Amash explained his vote, as usual, on his Facebook page:
“I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.
However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act.
This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.
But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616” or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”
Ted Cruz may feel as though he did his duty to attempt reign in the NSA’s metadata program, but in the long run, the bill that was voted for by the senator from Texas would have done very little to change the status quo of the American surveillance state.
His criticism of Rand Paul, if not intentionally deceitful, showed at least a surprising ignorance over Paul’s true objection to the USA Freedom Act.
UPDATE: Senior Paul adviser Doug Stafford said in a statement to Rare:
“Senator Paul has been the leading fighter to end NSA abuses. He voted NO on the bill mentioned here because it did not actually fix the problem, and also because it included reauthorization of expiring parts of the Patriot Act, something for which Senator Paul simply could not cast his vote. Others are welcome to their decision to compromise on American’s 4th Amendment rights, but not welcome to cast it misleadingly as a vote for liberty.”