Tags: Rand Paul | Patriot act | USA Freedom Act | metadata | expiration

Lawmakers Sound Off on Paul, Patriot Act Expiration

By    |   Monday, 01 June 2015 10:15 AM

Several key lawmakers Monday accused Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul of politicizing the debate on the Patriot Act's metadata collection, and one veteran senator said he is worried that Paul and others seeking the presidency will hinder Senate votes by using the floor to further their campaigns.

"Half the U.S. Senate, it seems, is running for president," Maine independent Sen. Angus King told CNN's "New Day" program. "If somebody running for president can essentially take over the floor of the U.S. Senate ... it's going to impede our ability to get the people's work done here."

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Paul on Sunday blocked the extension of the Patriot Act, which expired at midnight. The Senate cannot vote any earlier than 1 a.m. Tuesday on a measure known as the USA Freedom Act, which will change how phone metadata records are handled.

The Kentucky Republican's continued stance against the Patriot Act is angering many of his GOP colleagues, while frustrating intelligence and law enforcement officials.

King said Monday that he believes Paul is entitled to his opinion, and he does believe the senator's concerns are sincere.

However, he said, "I frankly think he is overstating it significantly. I just worry about the implications of every two or three months, we're going to have somebody running for president taking over in this way and it's not productive."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another candidate for the 2016 GOP nomination, told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" Monday that he thinks that Paul and other current office holders should "decide what they want to be when you grow up."

"If you want to be a senator, be a senator," Huckabee said. "If you want to be president, let go of what you're doing because it's a full-time pursuit. That's why I gave up the [Huckabee] show. I would have loved to have kept the show."

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But Huckabee said if politicians are taking money from the taxpayers, they should be honest about their campaigns "and give the taxpayers a break and let them have someone on the job full time."

Huckabee, like King, does believe that Paul is sincere on his stance on the Patriot Act.

"This is not something he just took up; he truly believes this," said Huckabee. "I respect that a whole lot. I respect anyone who has convictions and will stand by no matter what the consequence is."

Former New York Gov. George Pataki, who also announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination last week, told CNN's "New Day" program that he finds Paul "significantly responsible" for thwarting the bipartisan USA Freedom Act.

Paul also said on Sunday that he believes there are some in the Senate who want to see an attack, so he can be blamed for the lapse the Patriot Act, a comment that Pataki found "outrageous."

"I can't speak for him, but I think the idea that anyone would want to see an attack in America so that he gets political blame is outrageous," Pataki said. "The thought that someone would want to see Americans killed for some political reason is just beyond the line to me."

Donald Trump, making his weekly Monday appearance on "Fox & Friends," said that Paul's stance "doesn't seem to be very popular" except for maybe among those in his own base or that of his father, retired Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul.

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"Most people seem to feel the way I do and the way most of you do," said Trump. "So I'm not sure that it's very politically popular what he's doing, actually."

Meanwhile, King told CNN that he has always been in favor of getting telephone metadata out of the government's hands, but he was concerned that the new bipartisan reform bill for the Patriot Act has "no requirement whatsoever that the phone companies hold the data for any particular period of time.

"My fear was they would reduce, reduce, reduce, and render the program ineffective."

But King still thinks the Patriot Act is important, and there should be a way to be sure it will continue being effective. He told CNN that the Fourth Amendment does not say that searches and seizures should not be done, just "no unreasonable searches and seizures."

He told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program that the Patriot Act has been an important part of the intelligence tools, and he hopes that the program can be restored in a way that protects privacy.

Arizona GOP Rep. Matt Salmon, one of the co-authors of the USA Freedom Act, told the "Morning Joe" program that there is a right way to run the program and keep the nation secure while defending it.

"I think that letting it expire, just expire, the whole law itself is a problem," said Salmon. "I do believe that there are parts of it and the second circuit court basically said that, just a couple of weeks ago, that the metadata collection is unconstitutional."

Huckabee went on to comment that the Patriot Act's expiration marked a "reflection of the lack of leadership that's going on in Washington."

"It's not to just wait until the last minute, let the Senate be in recess all week, show up Sunday and then it collapsed," he said. "This should have been dealt with through lots of meetings, phone calls, through the engagement that you have."

Huckabee agrees with the USA Freedom Act, noting it "provides more protections," and said that he believes the United States is in even more danger today than it was after the 9/11 attacks.

"We're in more grave danger than we were before," said Huckabee. "We have to balance that with the constitutional protections" against the government spying on citizens.

"Fourteen years ago, we were more worried about terrorists — now we're worried about our government," he said. "Look at what the IRS and Department of Justice (has) done to people and what it's failed to do to bad guys. People don't trust government."

Pataki, on CNN, agreed that he believes this is the "most dangerous time for Americans since Sept. 11," especially since there may be no way to track "lone wolf" attackers.

"They cannot use roving wiretaps against people they understand probably are looking to engage in terrorist acts, and it is completely wrong," he said. "It's dangerous. And I fear for our safety."

Pataki admitted he was "outraged" at NSA leaker Edward Snowden's revelations, but since then, he's learned that the agency only collects phone numbers.

"They can't even look at those numbers, let alone know who is on that phone call or what the content of the call is, without going to a court and getting the equivalent of a warrant," said Pataki. "I think losing that authority is very dangerous."

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Several key lawmakers Monday accused Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul of politicizing the debate on the Patriot Act's metadata collection, and one veteran senator said he is worried that Paul and others seeking the presidency will hinder Senate votes by using the floor to further...
Rand Paul, Patriot act, USA Freedom Act, metadata, expiration
Monday, 01 June 2015 10:15 AM
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