Friday, January 10, 2014

Rand Paul leads the way on NSA spying issue

Pity poor Rand Paul. He really is just a sanitized version of his father, Ron Paul.

By that it is meant that Ron Paul is unpolished, not conscious of his image, candid, even brusque. He really doesn’t care what people think of him; in fact, he wasn’t really interested in seriously competing for the presidency, and was most concerned about crusading for his brand of strident libertarianism.

He really wasn’t a Republican either, nor were many of his followers, who proved it in November of 2012 by staying home by the millions rather than vote for Mitt Romney, thereby paving the way for President Obama’s re-election.

By contrast, Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, has sought to conceal that very same libertarianism under a veneer of tact, emphasis and context, preferring instead to reveal it only on issues in which the people are really engaged. Unlike his father, however, he takes himself seriously as a presidential candidate and seeks to use the Republican Party as a vehicle to achieve that end.

There really is no substantive difference between the two on the issues, including a decidedly isolationist or non-interventionist foreign policy.

That said, Rand Paul knows what issues might catch the public’s fancy and talks about them in a timely fashion.  One on which he has played a key role is the domestic spying issue connected to disclosures about the extent of surveillance carried out by the National Security Agency.

Rand Paul has launched a petition drive seeking support for a class-action lawsuit against NSA.

Because of the scope of the NSA’s activities, Paul told MSNBC “every person in America who has a cell phone would be eligible for this suit.”

“We now have several hundred thousand people who want to be part of this suit to say to the government and the NSA, ‘No, you can’t have our records without our permission or without a warrant specific to an individual,’” he said.

This is God’s work, supported by people across the political spectrum.  It is interesting that this issue wouldn’t even be on the table — as Paul acknowledges  — were it not for the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, now a fugitive from the United States.

Snowden’s disclosures led to a review of NSA’s practices by the Obama Administration, which is expected to recommend major reforms in the NSA surveillance program next week.

All of this suggests the criminal status the U.S. has placed on Snowden might be inappropriate. Some people regard him as a national hero. But that is another subject for another day.

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