Rand Paul Wants Select Panel to Probe Intel Abuses

Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 06:08 AM

By Cathy Burke

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Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday slammed President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials for alleged spying abuses, announcing that he'll push for a select committee to investigate.

“It should be bipartisan, it should be independent and far-reaching, it should have full power to investigate and reform those who spy on us in the name of protecting us," Paul said in a speech at the historically liberal University of California, Berkeley campus, The Hill reported.

"It should watch the watchers," said Paul, a Kentucky Republican.

Paul chided "the nation's first African-American president" for letting the suspected abuses occur with "no compunction" — noting that civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and other black heroes were once targets of illegal government surveillance.

He also urged lawmakers to create a special committee to investigate allegations raised by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democratic who has accused CIA agents of secretly searching Senate computers.

“How does the Fourth Amendment apply to the digital age?” Paul asked. “To me, this is a profound constitutional question. Can a single warrant be applied to millions of Americans?”

Paul has become a leading defender of the Fourth Amendment and privacy issues in Congress, and is considered a potential contender in the 2016 run for the White House.

He took first place in two straw polls at conservative gatherings earlier this month, first at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, then in New Hampshire at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference.

On Wednesday, in answer to a question about whether he's gearing up for a run, he told the Berkeley crowd "maybe," The Hill reported.

"Part of it might be that the Republican Party, I’ve said, they either have to evolve, adapt or die," Paul said.

His visit to Berkeley was one of many he’s made to college campuses to reach audiences not typically tapped by the GOP, The Hill noted.

During a question-and-answer segment, Paul said that the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who denied the existence of surveillance programs during congressional testimony, “should be tried for perjury," The Hill reported.

But he also said he had "mixed feelings|" on whether he'd encourage more people to come forward with documents and information such as those of NSA secrets leaker Edward Snowden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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