Ron Paul praises defeat of USA Freedom Act
Paul, 79, has long been an opponent of government overreach, especially with respect to the surveillance operations conducted by the NSA. Nevertheless, the retired lawmaker is saluting the current Congress’ decision to vote down the USA Freedom Act last Tuesday.
The bill, a direct response to the intelligence community’s revelations attributed to former contractor Edward Snowden, came two votes short of advancing in the Senate during last week’s vote.
But while passage of the USA Freedom Act indeed would have brought changes to some of the NSA’s practices, Paul said this week during a message broadcast by his telephone hotline that Congress was right to reject the bill, as it would have renewed certain provisions from the controversial post-9/11 Patriot Act.
“While some well-meaning pro-privacy groups endorsed the Freedom Act as a first step to reform, some anti-liberty neoconservatives opposed the legislation because even its anemic reforms were unacceptable,” Paul says in the telephone recording. “The truth is, Americans should not accept one more extension of the Patriot Act and should not endorse its continued dismemberment of our constitutional liberties. If that means some senators vote with anti-liberty colleagues to kill the extension, we should still consider it a victory.”
Had lawmakers approved the Freedom Act, the NSA would no longer be allowed to collect the phone records of millions of Americans on a regular basis. At the same time, however, passage would have renewed some key elements of the Patriot Act through 2017.
Because the Patriot Act as a whole will have to be brought up for discussion during the forthcoming congressional session ahead of its scheduled expiration, Paul said, the Senate was smart to shut down the Freedom Act. It sets the stage for some of those provisions to maybe sunset ahead of 2017 if the next Congress can quash the original post-9/11 bill.
“Reform is often meant to preserve, not repeal bad legislation. When the public is strongly opposed to a particular policy you will almost never hear politicians say ‘let’s repeal the law.’ It is always a pledge to reform the policy or law. The USA Freedom Act was no different,” Paul said.
“With the failure of the Freedom Act to move ahead in the Senate last week, several of the most egregious sections of the PATRIOT Act will expire next June absent new authorization. Congress will no doubt be under great pressure to extend these measures. We must do our very best to make sure they are unsuccessful,” the ex-lawmaker added.
The long-time congressman’s recent remarks mirror comments made just last week by his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), after the USA Freedom Act failed to pass the Senate. Paul told reporters that he “felt bad” the bill failed since it “probable needed” his vote — the act was two votes shy of receiving the 60 required to move through the chamber. By failing to renew Patriot Act provisions, however, Sen. Paul said stalling the latest attempt at NSA reform meant the country was "one step closer to restoring civil liberties," according to the Huffington Post.