WASHINGTON, June 1, 2015 – National Security is an area of public policy where Libertarian-leaning Republicans like Rand Paul remind the American People of their disdain for party politics. Paul’s unrelenting drive to kill the highly controversial US Patriot Act has upset the political establishment enough to force change.
Although standing against the GOP and Democratic Party could very well help Paul during the 2016 Presidential contest, the current issue is whether his actions will help or hurt America.
The Patriot Act was adopted after the September 11 terrorist attacks as part of an effort to tackle the threat of global terrorists. Since then, criticism of provisions that largely ignore civil liberties has pressured Washington to change the legislation.
Despite relevantly minor tweaks, the most offensive provisions of the Act remain intact. Even in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA revelations, which unveiled the NSA’s massive data collection efforts, Congress and the White House were poised to extend the Patriot Act without significant changes.
At the root of the political battle is the unwillingness of the Senate to accept compromise bills like the US Freedom Act or allow the Patriot Act to expire.
Recognizing this classic political tactic to derail change, Rand Paul decided has decided he must do whatever is necessary to restore the civil liberties and freedoms undermined by this piece of legislation. Senator Rand Paul is willingness to take what might be called the “nuclear option.” Paul is willing to derail the effective, balanced provisions of the Patriot Act to restore those liberties.
On the one hand, authorities can no longer collect bulk data on the phone calls of US Citizens thanks to the efforts of Senator Paul. On the other hand, the FBI can no longer use the Patriot Act to obtain broad wiretap orders that will allow them to continuously monitor a suspect who is switching phone lines, to obtain wiretap orders for terrorist suspects unaffiliated with a group, or to obtain business records relevant to an investigation. Without an immediate remedy from Congress, these procedural hurdles could inhibit legitimate investigations.
It is increasingly evident that much of the mass surveillance government agencies were conducting did almost nothing to help secure America. Given the rise of the Islamic State, the Ukraine Crisis and intensifying Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, the question for the American people is whether Rand Paul is endangering the United States at sensitive time in order to pursue his political ideology or protecting the Country.
Some will say Paul is defending the American People from their own government and others will say his willingness to unravel the US national security apparatus is a national security threat. It is easy to fault Senator Paul for his tactics, but the truth is that the fault lies in his colleagues and the thinking of those responsible for US National Security.
Those protecting America must always recognize their mission is to safeguard the country against national security threat while protecting the freedoms and rights of the American People. Political leaders, however, need to stop rigging the legislative process to lock in faulted policies and lock out constructive reforms.
Instead of fixing government, the political system has relied too often on the unwillingness of political leaders to trigger the nuclear option. Just as the Country has experienced a number of government shutdowns over budgetary impasses, it would appear the nuclear option is now on the table for even the most vital of government functions. Clearly, this is a very troubling sign of things to come.
Moreover, blame must be placed on the political establishment that has rigged the US government with an array of booby traps to discourage dissent from the established policies, instead of blaming individuals like Rand Paul who simply push the “do not touch” button to pursue what they believe is in the best interests of the United States.