Senator Rand Paul joined “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday to comment on a shocking revelation that details the extent of NSA spying on both foreign U.S. allies and members of Congress.
After a Wall Street Journal expose revealed this week how the White House used the NSA to spy on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by proxy, U.S. congressmen, Paul seized on the opportunity to double down on his view that we need targeted rather than broad surveillance.
“I’m appalled by this,” said Paul when asked how he feels about the fact that several of his fellow elected officials were spied on by the White House. “This is exactly why we need more NSA reform,” Paul added.
Paul explained that the surveillance debate in Washington has gone in the wrong direction since the shootings in San Bernadino, California earlier this month, that have been linked to Islamic terrorism. While people’s fears are justified, Paul believes government cannot be trusted with indiscriminate power, and that the latest information about politically motivated NSA spying proves his point.
“Senator Wyden has been warning about this for years now,” said Paul, referencing his Democratic colleague who has been a leading advocate in the fight for NSA reform. Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had long railed against spying practices he was unable to reveal that later became clear as a result of Edward Snowden’s disclosures.
“When we listen in on foreigners’ conversations when they’re talking to Americans, we’re scooping up tens of thousands of conversations with Americans, which is a real problem,” said Paul, echoing Wyden’s warnings. “It’s is an invasion of privacy. You can see how it stifles speech when you eavesdrop on congressmen. It might stifle what they say, and who they communicate with.”
While Paul made his point discussing the recently discovered surveillance of congressmen, he has long attributed the same issue of stifled speech to indiscriminate spying on all American citizens. “We absolutely need more controls on the NSA and more controls on our intelligence agencies,” Paul concluded.
Since the Wall Street Journal’s report, Paul’s fellow senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio has also voiced his outrage about the fact that the Obama administration is spying on Israeli politicians and members of Congress. Rubio however, has long been a proponent of spying on U.S. citizens absent basic constitutional protections such as warrants.
Although Rubio is witnessing the government power he advocates turned on his allies, he has not to date expressed any regret of his position in favor of expanding NSA spying, despite his apparent selective outrage in this case.
As for Paul, he appears set to continue making the case for NSA reform that targets specific terrorists rather than serving the political interests of whichever party happens to occupy the White House.