Senator Rand Paul slams GOP for blocking efforts to amend PATRIOT Act
Freshman Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY) lashed out at the leadership of his own party, blaming them for preventing debate on the extension of the PATRIOT Act, which the Senate passed Thursday.
“I’ve been working for two long days filibustering the PATRIOT Act in hopes that we can have a constitutional debate over certain provisions of it and we can try to reform it to take away some of the encroachments on our freedoms,” Paul told CNN.
“Unfortunately, what we’re finding now is that the Democrats have agreed to allow me to have amendments but my own party is refusing to allow me to debate or present my amendments.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Paul (R-KY) introduced an amendment to the PATRIOT Act on Monday that attempted to safeguard American’s civil liberties by increasing oversight of government surveillance powers.
The Leahy-Paul amendment [PDF] would have required an expansion of public reporting on the use of surveillance powers granted by the PATRIOT Act. It would also require the government to prove a suspect was linked to a foreign group or power before being able to obtain highly sensitive records.
“If you believe that your gun records should be private and they shouldn’t be opened and sifted through by unknown bureaucrats without a judge’s warrant than you should call your Republican leadership in Washington and tell them you’re unhappy,” Paul added.
The Senate voted 72 to 23 to extend the “roving wiretap” provision, “lone wolf” measure and “business records” provision until June 1, 2015. The controversial provisions were set to expire May 27.
The three provisions allow law enforcement authorities to conduct surveillance without identifying the person or location to be wiretapped, permits surveillance of “non-US” persons for whatever reason, and authorizes law enforcement to gain access to “any tangible thing” during investigations.
Democratic Senators Dick Durbin (IL) and Ron Wyden (OR) had also previously stated that the legislation needed to be amended to protect American’s from unconstitutional searches and invasions of privacy.