While the government's past abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) seem have been limited to investigations into former President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign, Sen. Rand Paul warns of the ongoing "danger to democracy."
"They stooped down to use something they use on foreigners to use against a presidential candidate," the Kentuck Republican told Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson in an exclusive interview Tuesday. "I think too many people on the left, because they hate President Trump so much, can't understand how dangerous this would be.
"This is incredibly dangerous, whether you're Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, whatever you are, to let the power of government to use this less-than-constitutional standard to go after your political enemies, and listen to their phone calls and invade their privacy.
"It's very, very dangerous to Democracy.
"All these people on the left who everyday say, 'oh, Donald Trump's a danger to democracy' – well, no, what's really a danger to democracy is allowing government to be strong enough that they can investigate political candidates of either party."
Paul added a warning those seeking to create "a straw man" of "domestic terrorists" and supposed "insurrectionists" might have continued that abuse through the investigations into the Jan. 6 protest at the Capitol.
"They took Jan. 6 and they turned all these people into white supremacists and armed insurrectionists – most of which isn't true," Paul continued. "I think there were some mentally ill people involved in Jan. 6. There were some bad-intentioned people who got involved in violence with the police, but then there were also some people that just were kind of wandering over to the Capitol and looked around in the Capitol and really the police were standing there and no one as telling them to leave.
"They were doing the wrong thing, but I don't think they were involved with insurrection or even conscious of really that it would be interpreted as such a thing later on."
Paul lamented the government's ability to use the lower standard of the FISA program's probable cause of contact with a foreign government than the Constitution's standard of probable cause for having committed a crime.
"This is something that's very alarming," Paul said. "We have an enormous power that we've allowed our intelligence agencies to accumulate. They have the technology to record and listen to every phone call in America if they wanted to.
"I'm not saying they are, but they have that power to do that."
Paul noted even former President George W. Bush, whose administration built up the power of the intelligence agencies after 9/11 is now jumping on the Democrat narrative of the "straw man" domestic terrorists in his 9/11 20th anniversary speech.
"Bush developed the intelligence agencies that can investigate anybody and now the're saying the people that were unhappy with the election – they had a grievance about the election and they weren't violent – that somehow maybe we should use the intelligence apparatus, the same one that we did against al-Qaida – should now be used against Americans," Paul said. "And that's a real problem."
Paul noted skirting the Constitution standard for probable cause is an argument that had been made because "the constitution takes too much time."
"So why don't we use the FISA court – why don't we use these blanket warrants that are unconstitutional," Paul warned.
Paul added he would be firing the same warnings if President Joe Biden, his campaign, or his supporters were to have their civil liberties violated.
"People have to fight for civil liberties, and it used to be a fight that brought right and left together," Paul said. "When Donald Trump became president, many on the left who did care about civil liberties didn't care if it was Trump, because they hated Trump so bad.
"They're like, 'do whatever you can to him, we don't care if the FBI investigates him; we don't care if they use FISA against him.'
"I had always hoped that more of them would loudly proclaim against this abuse against this use of the intelligence agencies, because I promise you, if the FBI did this to Biden, I would be the loudest person. I'm not a fan of President Biden. I think his policies are wrong. But if the FBI were to try to tap his phones or infiltrate his campaign, I would be the first to say they all ought to be fired. And very few people on the left did."
Also, Paul concluded, the FBI is using questionable "entrapment" strategies in their quest for potentially "encouraging them to commit a crime." It is this argument lawyers for the accused have used in the foiled plot of kidnapping Michigan Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
"Encouraging them to commit a crime, that truly is entrapment," Paul said. "I don't know if that happened with the Whitmer thing; I don't know if that happened on Jan. 6.
"Now, they were doing the wrong thing," Paul added about those who breached the Capitol on Jan. 6. "They shouldn't have gone in the Capitol, but for someone like George W. Bush to compare them to al-Qaida, that's just bizarre."
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