Rand Paul, a Kentucky senator and possible 2016 candidate for the highest office in the United States, told a University of California-Berkeley audience yesterday afternoon:
“Power must be restrained because no one knows who will next hold that power.”
Paul's talk, described as an "NSA-bashing" speech by writer Peter Grier of the CSMonitor, did earn him a standing ovation from the crowd inside the Berkeley auditorium. Paul believes that the intelligence community is running wild and that existing oversight structures have not managed to rein them in. Said Paul:
“I oppose this abuse of power with every ounce of energy I have.”
Calling for a bipartisan monitoring group, such as the Church Committee in the mid1970s, Paul hopes to hold in check the National Security Agency, according to Grier's article. The Senator also told the Berkeley crowd it seems that the NSA believes the Constitution thinks “equal protection means Americans should be spied upon equally.”
The proposal from Paul comes after his California Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein's allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency crossed a separation of powers line last week in improperly searching a computer network set up for lawmakers, according to a previous article in the Examiner.
A piece in Politico further describes what Senator Paul has in mind:
“It should be bipartisan, it should be independent and wide-reaching. It should have full power to investigate and reform those who spy on us in the name of protecting us. It should watch the watchers. Our liberties are slipping away from us.”
Pointing out that safeguards are needed, Paul stated:
“... think what information is on your Visa bill. From your bill, the government can tell whether you drink, whether you smoke, whether you gamble, what books you read, what magazines you read, whether you see a psychiatrist, what medications you take.”
NSA officials have displayed “sheer arrogance,” writer Katie Glueck quotes Paul as saying. Further:
“They’re only sorry they got caught."
'we demand the truth from our officials'
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was also criticized by the Senator for offering a congressional panel the “least untruthful” answer to a question about the extent of the NSA’s data collection.
Paul said Clapper should be tried for perjury. Glueck further quotes him:
“We have a right to the truth, we deserve the truth and we demand the truth from our officials.”
While he felt torn on NSA leaker Edward Snowden's situation, he says this much seems clear:
“Clapper lied in the name of security, Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy.”