Rand Paul on the PATRIOT Act “Revolution was Sparked by Right to Privacy, Right to Have Your Papers Left Alone”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) continued his assault on parts of the PATRIOT Act on Tuesday when he appeared on Fox News’ Fox and Friends to argue that his GOP opponents (particularly Chris Christie) were wrong to defend the unconstitutional seizure of our private information. Governor Christie recently called opponents of the NSA’s bulk data collection (allowed by the PATRIOT Act) “misguided” people with no experience in fighting against terrorism (which Christie than said he had experience doing).

Elisabeth Hasselbeck: I would first like to get your reaction to Chris Christie saying you’re basically a misguided ideologue with no world experience fighting terrorism.

Senator Rand Paul: That just wasn’t very nice, I’ll put it that way. I wouldn’t put it that way. I would say that i’m a defender of the Bill of Rights and also someone who defends the spirit of the framers of the constitution. 

We fought The Revolution. John Adams said the Revolution was sparked by the right to privacy, the right to have your papers left alone unless a judge signs a warrant with your name on it. When you have a single warrant that has the name Verizon on it and you collect hundreds of millions of records from one warrant, I think that’s the definition of a generalized warrant, and I think that goes against the spirit of the Fourth Amendment. 

Brian Kilmeade: But, Senator, doesn’t Verizon have those records? Doesn’t AT&T have those records already? And has there been any abuse that you know of coming forward with the NSA.

Senator Rand Paul: The debate is not over whether they have them; it’s whether or not you still have a privacy interest in it. 

You know, we sign agreements all the time with Internet service providers that say they agree not to divulge your information. The telephone company is supposed to protest your privacy and not divulge that information.

I agree with you that there’s not a lot of public evidence that they have abused the system. However, what I would say is the abuse of the Fourth Amendment is the actual bulk collection of records, there’s the potential for abuse.

And we’ve done it in the past we did it to the Japanese-Americans in World War II, we did it to civil rights protesters in the ‘60s and the Vietnam War protesters. We just sort of grabbed them up and started looking at behavior we didn’t like. So the right to dissent in a free country is very important, and some say this has a chilling effect on the right to dissent.