civil liberties

Rand Paul talks CPAC straw poll win, young people on Fox News Sunday

Rand Paul on Fox News Sunday

Fresh off a successful weekend at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Fox News Sunday to talk about his straw poll victory and young voters’ disenfranchisement with President Barack Obama.

“[T]he one thing about CPAC it’s just chock full of young people,” Paul told host Chris Wallace. “There are young people everywhere, and I think young people, their lives sort of rotate, and, you know, disseminate.”

“Everything goes out through their cell phone and they are very aware of their privacy,” he continued, “and they don’t think when the government tells them that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect your cell phone, doesn’t protect your records, they don’t accept that, so I think not only conservative young people from colleges and high school, I think young people across the country are fed up with the government that says, ‘Hey, the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to your records, doesn’t apply to your cell phone.’”

Rand Paul focuses on Constitution, civil liberties in CPAC speech

Rand Paul

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) offered a stark contrast from other speakers this afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). While many of the day’s speeches focused on the contentious relationship between the establishment and the grassroots or social issues, the libertarian-leaning Republican focused the Constitution and civil liberties that are being withered away due to an overreaching president and administration.

“Imagine a time when our great country is again governed by the Constitution. Imagine a time when the White House is once again occupied by a friend of liberty,” Paul told attendees. “Now, you may think I’m talking about electing Republicans. I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty.”

“It isn’t good enough to pick the lesser of two evils. We must elect men and women of principle and conviction and action who will lead us back to greatness,” he said. “There is a great and tumultuous battle underway for the future, not of the Republican Party, but the future of the entire country. The question is, will we be bold and proclaim our message with passion, or will we be sunshine patriots retreating under adverse fire?”

Rand Paul marks one-year anniversary of filibuster

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has released a video marking the one-year anniversary of his 13-hour filibuster of CIA nominee John Brennan. Though it didn’t stop Brennan’s confirmation, it did raise awareness to the Obama administration’s drone strikes policy and, almost single-handedly, changed public opinion on the issue. You see our coverage of the filibuster here and here. You can also watch the filibuster, if you have 13 hours to spare, in full via C-SPAN.

Ralph Nader rips Obama on civil liberties, abuse of power

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader will soon release a book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State, about the realignment in American politics. Specifically, the growing distrust from both the left and the right toward businesses that often collude with the government for bailouts and special favors.

There’s another topic that Nader plans to tackle in the book — President Obama’s alarming abuse of executive power and disregard for civil liberties, which, he writes, surpasses George W. Bush:

In his new book, Ralph Nader calls for the end of “unconstitutional wars and unchecked militarism” — and lays blame on President Barack Obama for going beyond even George W. Bush.

Nader writes in “Unstoppable” that Obama “has extended the Bush doctrine by declaring his unilateral right, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, to destroy anybody, anywhere in the world, including American citizens, suspected to be engaged in alleged terrorist activities, all this vaguely and loosely defined as anti-U.S. security.”

DHS cancels plans to build a national license plate database

A week after posting a solicitation for contractor submissions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) canceled its plans to build a massive database that would allow law enforcement officials to upload images of license plates that could assist federal agents in criminal investigations:

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative.

The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license-plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers. Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

The data would have been drawn from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, and would have been accessed only for “ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals,” officials told The Washington Post this week.

Homeland Security looking to build National License Plate Database

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a solicitation last week seeking contractor submissions to build and operate a massive database that would allow federal, state and local law enforcement officials to upload images of license plates that could assist federal agents in criminal investigations.

“The database should track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system from a variety of sources (access control systems, asset recovery specialists, etc.) and uploaded to share with law enforcement,” DHS wrote in its 29-page solicitation. “[National License Plate Recognition database] information will be used by DHS/ICE to assist in the location and arrest of absconders and criminal aliens.”

“Officers should be able to query the NLPR database with license plate numbers based on investigative leads to determine where and when the vehicle has traveled. This information will assist in locating criminal aliens and absconders, and will enhance officer safety by enabling arrests to occur away from a subject’s residence. The use of NLPR will reduce the man-hours required to conduct surveillance,” DHS added.

The solicitation calls for the development of smartphone technology that would allow law enforcement officers to upload an image of a license plate. If there is a match, the smartphone app will alert the officer via a notification.

Rand Paul: Republican has to undergo “a transformation”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) fears that the Republican Party will not win another presidential election unless it undergoes “a transformation” by developing a message that can reach young people and minorities:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made a bold prediction about the remaining presidential elections in his lifetime during an interview with Glenn Beck that aired Thursday.

“I think Republicans will not win again in my lifetime … unless they become a new GOP, a new Republican Party,” Paul said evenly. “And it has to be a transformation. Not a little tweaking at the edges.”
[…]
The primary goal, Paul said, is to present the “ideas of liberty” to everyone.

“There are many people who are open among all these disaffected groups, who really aren’t steadfast supporters of Obama or an ideology,” Paul asserted. “I think they’re open to listening, but we have to have a better message and a better presentation of it.”

“There is a struggle going on within the Republican Party,” Paul admitted. “I tell people it’s not new, and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m proud of the fact that there is a struggle. And I will struggle to make the Republican Party a different party, a bigger party, a more diverse party, and a party that can win national elections again.”

Petition Calling for Snowden Clemency Launched by Ron Paul

Two weeks after Edward Snowden was nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, - the same award granted to President Barack Obama in 2009 - one day after Intelligence Squared hosted a debate on the motion “Snowden was Justified,” and on the same day that the European Parliament voted against granting asylum to the whistleblower, former Texas congressman Ron Paul launched a petition demanding clemency for Edward Snowden.

According to the petition’s official page, Snowden’s asylum in Russia should expire at the end of July. On Ron Paul Channel’s website, one can read that “Snowden sacrificed his livelihood, citizenship, and freedom by exposing the disturbing scope of the NSA’s worldwide spying program.”

According to Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Edward Snowden’s actions were in line with the oath to uphold the Constitution that he subscribed to, which is the same oath that powerful critics of Snowden, such as Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), also swore to uphold.

FreedomWorks and Rand Paul Sue the NSA

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FreedomWorks released a video this afternoon shortly after they joined Senator Rand Paul in filing a class action lawsuit against President Obama and intelligence officials over the National Security Agency’s violation of the Fourth Amendment through their domestic surveillance program.

While preparing to walk over to the court, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said, “One of the footnotes I find particularly interesting, this is a quote from then-Senator Barack Obama, who complained about the lack of judicial oversight with the NSA’s programs. He said in 2005, ‘If someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document, the library books you’ve read, the phone calls that you made, the emails that you sent, this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a need in a court of law. No judge will hear your plea. No jury will hear your case. This is just plain wrong.’”

Kibbe went on to call this the biggest day in FreedomWorks history.

During the joint press conference, Kibbe said, “I don’t think this is a partisan issue. This isn’t Republican versus Democrat. This isn’t about the Obama Administration. This is about a government that’s crossed a line.”

Senator Paul and FreedomWorks are being represented by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who says that they filed the class action lawsuit “to vindicate the Fourth Amendment rights of every American who uses a phone.”

Rand Paul, FreedomWorks file lawsuit against NSA spying

Photo credit: Kate Todd

It’s official. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe have filed a class action lawsuit against President Barack Obama and senior intelligence officials over the NSA’s domestic surveillance program.

“On behalf of myself, FreedomWorks and everyone in America that has a phone, we’re filling suit against the President of the United States in defense of the Fourth Amendment,” Paul said in front of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. “We will ask the question in court whether a single warrant can apply to the records of every American phone user all of the time, without limits, without individualization.”

“This, we believe, will be a historic lawsuit. We think it may well be the largest class action lawsuit ever filed on behalf of the Bill of Rights,” he added.

President Barack Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, and Director of National Security Agency Keith Alexander were named in the lawsuit. Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will represent Paul and FreedomWorks in the case.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration the NSA’s bulk metadata collection program is unconstitutional and an injunction against further use. Paul and FreedomWorks want purged any metadata from the existing database.

Paul and FreedomWorks argue that they have a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment as well as standing to file the complaint on the grounds that they are subscribers to Verizon and AT&T.


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