Tags: Trump Administration | Al-Qaida | Edward Snowden | NSA/Surveillance | Rand Paul | War on Terrorism | Peter King

Peter King: Paul Marathon 'Putting Our National Security at Risk'

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 09:22 PM

Rep. Peter King slammed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for speaking for hours Wednesday on the Senate floor against renewing the Patriot Act and the NSA's metadata programs the law authorizes, charging to Newsmax that he is "doing a disservice to the country and he's putting our national security at risk.

"He's unnecessarily frightening the American people," the New York Republican, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in an exclusive interview. "He's making the [National Security Agency] out to be the enemy.

"In fact, the enemy is al-Qaida, ISIS, and Islamist terrorism, and the NSA is the key weapon that the United States has in the war against al-Qaida," King said. "The NSA does not listen to anyone's phone calls and does not read anyone's emails. There have been no abuses found against the NSA.

"This is just absolutely terrible. It's so misleading. It's fear-mongering — and it's inexcusable," he said.

Paul, who announced his Republican presidential campaign last month, began speaking at 1:18 p.m. on Wednesday, and continued speaking almost nonstop for nearly 11 hours. He has vowed to stop any effort to extend the law, which provides for the NSA's widespread data-collection programs.

The Patriot Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush shortly after the 9/11 attacks, expires on June 1.

"I will not let the Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic of acts, go unchallenged," Paul said at the outset of his remarks. "At the very least, we should debate. We should debate whether or not we are going to relinquish our rights … or whether we can live within the Constitution or we have to go around the Constitution."

He later asked: "Do we want to live in a world where the government knows everything about us? Do we want to live in a word where the government has us under constant surveillance?

"We should be in open rebellion, saying, 'Enough is enough, we're not going to take it anymore,'" Paul said.

He sent an email to campaign donors, vowing to "filibuster" until he received votes on amendments that would end the data programs and make other changes.

"I will not rest," the senator said in the fundraising email. "I will not back down. I will not yield one inch in this fight so long as my legs can stand."

Paul began his arguments in the middle of a Senate debate that would give President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a deal with 12 Pacific Rim nations — and it is unclear if he is technically filibustering or if this is considered a procedural delay.

He finished at 11:49 p.m., having stood throughout.

He spent most of his time speaking to an empty chamber. At 2:47 p.m. only five senators — including Republican Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama — remained in the room, according to C-SPAN.

By 3:29, no senators were in the chamber.

In 2013, Paul talked for nearly 13 hours against using U.S. drones on Americans living in foreign countries.

But unlike then, Paul's comments were broken up by questions posed by other senators — Republican and Democrat alike — who also bashed the NSA. Paul yielded the floor but did not relinquish control.

Senators to whom Paul yielded included Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Steve Daines of Montana; and Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Jon Tester of Montana, and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Their speeches generally lasted about 20 minutes, with each posing a question that they wanted Paul to answer — thus continuing his opposition to the Patriot Act.

Lee called on the Senate to approve the proposed USA Freedom Act, which would strip the data-collection provisions from the Patriot Act.

By doing this, lawmakers would help to "repair the dysfunctional legislative branch that we have inherited … and gradually restore the public's trust in what we are doing."

He later added that the NSA's metadata program was "not something that we should embrace."

Paul's opposition to the renewal was also slammed by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that he "firmly" disagreed with the Kentucky senator.

"While I respect and I like Rand and work well with him, I severely disagree with him here.

"What I believe is that a lot of the NSA's telephone metadata programs is the result of misinformation spread by a traitor, Edward Snowden."

Cotton was referring to the former NSA contractor who leaked stolen information about the programs in 2013.

"The NSA is not listening to anyone's calls, reading Americans' emails," he said.

King described the agency's programs to Newsmax as "99.99 percent perfect, if you will" while bashing Wyden as "basically an ACLU Democrat" and Paul as "a George McGovern Democrat masquerading as a Republican."

"I find it offensive that instead of standing by our government in a war against al-Qaida, they are basically trying to tear down our government," King said. "I just find it wrong and to me it's unforgivable."

The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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Rep. Peter King slammed Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for speaking for nearly 11 hours Wednesday on the Senate floor against renewing the Patriot Act and the NSA's metadata programs the law authorizes, charging that he is "doing a disservice to the country and he's putting our national...
Peter King, Rand Paul, filibuster, Patriot Act, NSA, national security, risk
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 09:22 PM
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