civil liberties

Rand Paul to file suit against Obama, intelligence officials today

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will file a class action lawsuit this morning against President Barack Obama and intelligence officials over the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs.

“I am filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama because he has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the 4th Amendment,” Paul said in a press release from RandPAC. “The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants. I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court , and I predict the American people will win.”

Paul has long contended that the controversy over the NSA’s surveillance programs, through which the intelligence agency collects phone metadata of innocent Americans, is a matter that will eventually have to be settled by the Supreme Court. His PAC began collecting signatures for the lawsuit in January.

In addition to President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, and Director of National Security Agency Keith Alexander will be named as respondents in the lawsuit.

Paul will file the lawsuit at United States District Court in Washington, D.C and will host a press conference in front of the courthouse at 11 am. The Kentucky senator will be joined by FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who will serve as lead counsel in the case.

Sen. Rand Paul Defends the Fourth Amendment

See Video

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) released a video today this morning in which he explains why the Founding Fathers included the Fourth Amendments and offers a passionate defense of the right to privacy.

“The Fourth Amendment was included in the Constitution precisely to prevent the issuing of general warrants, in which blanket authority is given to government to spy on citizens at will,” said Paul. “Individualized suspicion of citizens’ records is precisely the kind of overreach we fought a revolution over. The colonists did not appreciate a British government that would go door-to-door searching anyone and everyone with out probable cause or suspicion.”

“The lesson of the American Revolution was that this should never happen again, and yet the NSA’s data collection program is the modern equivalent of this practice,” he said. “The Constitution is not a negotiable piece of parchment to be ignored or abused at the President’s whim. Washington leaders are expected to obey and protect what they took an oath to uphold.”

“Today is the day we begin to fight back,” said Paul in reference to the protests against mass surveillance that are going on today.

Paul is urging concerned Americans to visit, a website dedicated to his class-action lawsuit against the NSA.

Obama Makes a Mockery of Due Process, DOJ Memo Justifies Targeted Killing

Imagine that you live in a country that is run by a powerful handful of people that can order the death of any of its citizens, at any time, for any given reason without ever pressing charges against that citizen or bringing him or her to justice.

Imagine that this country you live in has apologists picked by the democratically elected president telling you and your family that what the president decides to do, should be done, whether you like it or not. They claim that his decisions should be supported by you, whether you think that what he’s doing is right or not, or even if what he chooses to do doesn’t represent you or your loved ones in the slightest.

This country is the United States of America, and the handful of people ruling our resources and citizens have a hit list of Americans and non-Americans they can kill at any given time, for any given reason, without due process.

The president’s apologists also want you to believe that that’s okay, he knows exactly what he’s doing and you shouldn’t be afraid.

According to a Washington Post report, President Obama’s hit list, which goes by the title “disposition matrix,” included at least three Americans. During President George W. Bush’s administration, an intelligence official claimed that he “did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing.” Under Obama, at least three American names are known to have been part of the hit list.

Lawmakers threaten not to renew controversial PATRIOT Act provision

Several members of the House Judiciary Committee threatened on Tuesday to let a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act expire next year if the Obama administration doesn’t significantly reform the NSA’s bulk phone metadata collection program:

Members of the House Judiciary Committee said Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is set to expire in the summer of 2015, will be dissolved unless the administration proposes broad changes to the NSA’s collection of phone records.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who wrote the Patriot Act and its two reauthorizations, told Deputy Attorney General James Cole that the administration was on the hook to find a workable alternative.

“Section 215 expires in June of next year,” Sensenbrenner said. “Unless Section 215 is fixed, you, Mr. Cole, and the intelligence community will end up getting nothing because I am absolutely confident that there are not the votes in this Congress to reauthorize 215.”

Today in Liberty: Amash wants to avoid debt ceiling theater, anti-NSA bill moves in Arizona

“What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.” — Thomas Sowell

— Conservatives urge Boehner forego “theater” on debt ceiling: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Raul Labrador (R-ID), two of the most conservative members of the House, are urging Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) avoid political theater and pass a clean debt ceiling rather than delay the inevitable. “Our constituents are fed up with the political theater. If we’re not going to fight for something specific, we might as well let the Democrats own it,” said Labrador. Amash was more resigned to the ends of a showdown, saying, “It’s going to end up being clean anyway.”

— Oh, Chris Matthews, you are such a pitiful person: The MSNBC host says that complaining about President Obama’s use of executive power and lawlessness is “second-term birtherism.” Make fun of birthers all you want, we don’t mind. But the constitutional limits on the executive and separation of powers is not something that should be so easily tossed aside. No word on whether Matthews still gets a thrill up his leg when he hears Obama speak.

Today in Liberty: House GOP ready to give up on debt ceiling, minimum wage and jobs, fis-cons come out against Farm Bill

“There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.” — F.A. Hayek

— Yet another Republican surrender, debt ceiling edition: Remember when House Republicans were talking tough about the debt ceiling in mid-December after they completely surrendered on spending cuts. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), for example, said that they “don’t want ‘nothing’ out of the debt limit” debate. Yeah, they’re about to surrender on that issue, too. Via Politico: “The most senior figures in the House Republican Conference are privately acknowledging that they will almost certainly have to pass what’s called a clean debt ceiling increase in the next few months, abandoning the central fight that has defined their three-year majority.”

Mike Lee to give Tea Party’s State of the Union response

The Tea Party Express has announced that Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will give its response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, Politico reported yesterday.

This will be the third consecutive year that the Tea Party Express — one of the major Tea Party organizations formed after the movement rose to prominence — has offered a response to the State of the Union address. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) delivered its response in 2012, followed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) last year.

Elected in 2010 Tea Party wave, Lee quickly established himself as one of the most fiscal conservative members of the Senate. He has also been a fierce defender of the civil liberties enshrined in the Constitution as well as a critic of President Obama’s expansion and abuse of executive power.

RELATED: United Liberty chats with Sen. Mike Lee

Lee, a former assistant U.S. Attorney, published an e-book last summer in which he detailed the problems with the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2012 Obamacare case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Last fall, Lee joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the unsuccessful, though principled effort to defund Obamacare through the Continuing Resolution.

Obama fails to offer fundamental change to metadata programs

After weeks of speculation, President Barack Obama outlined a series of purported reforms to controversial programs used by National Security Agency (NSA) to collect phone metadata of virtually every American.

Given on the anniversary of President Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex” speech, President Obama defended his record on civil liberties and the NSA. He also decried the “avalanche of unauthorized disclosures” by Edward Snowden.

“Those of us who hold office in America have a responsibility to our Constitution, and while I was confident in the integrity of those in our intelligence community, it was clear to me in observing our intelligence operations on a regular basis that changes in our technological capabilities were raising new questions about the privacy safeguards currently in place,” said President Obama this morning at the Justice Department. “I believed a fresh examination of our surveillance programs was a necessary next step in our effort to get off the open ended war-footing that we have maintained since 9/11.”

“For these reasons, I indicated in a speech at the National Defense University last May that we needed a more robust public discussion about the balance between security and liberty,” he said. “What I did not know at the time is that within weeks of my speech, an avalanche of unauthorized disclosures would spark controversies at home and abroad that have continued to this day.”

As part of his NSA overhaul, President Obama said that he plans greater executive branch oversight of intelligence activities. He promised more transparency of surveillance programs, pledging to release more FISC orders, and to “fortify the safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons.”

Obama to announce NSA reforms on Friday

The White House is ready to take some action on the recommendations made by the panel that reviewed controversial the NSA bulk data collect program. President Barack Obama will announce reforms in a speech on Friday, though the extent of the changes is not yet clear.

The NSA has lobbying hard to maintain its vast surveillance power and influence, hoping that the White House’s reforms won’t be sweeping. Civil libertarians on Capitol Hill, however, want President Obama to go big on the reforms, even urging him to institute the changes on his own.

But it appears that President Obama, whose dive in the polls began with the NSA domestic surveillance controversy, will lean heavily on Congress to enact his proposed reforms, which could mean a tumultuous road ahead:

Many of the key reforms he’s expected to endorse — including changes to the National Security Agency’s practice of gathering information on telephone calls made to, from or within the U.S. — will require congressional action. Like the public — and seemingly the president himself — lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are divided on what needs fixing and how to do it.

California legislators join anti-NSA push


In response to the ongoing domestic surveillance controversy, two California legislators have introduced legislation to prohibit state agencies from providing any material support to the National Security Agency.

California state Sens. Ted Lieu (D-Torrence) and Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) have introduced the Fourth Amendment Protection Act (SB 828), based on legislation promoted by the OffNow coalition. The measure would ban state agencies and subdivisions from providing public utilities, such as water, to the NSA or any other federal agency which “claims the power…to collect electronic data or metadata.”

“The National Security Agency’s massive level of spying and indiscriminate collecting of phone and electronic data on all Americans, including more than 38 million Californians, is a direct threat to our liberty and freedom,” said Lieu in a statement.

“I agree with the NSA that the world is a dangerous place,” Lieu said. “That is why our founders enacted the Bill of Rights. They understood the grave dangers of an out-of-control federal government,” he added.

Similar legislation has been introduced in a handful of other states — including Arizona, Kansas and Missouri — and has been hailed as a way to “nullify” the NSA’s controversial (and unconstitutional) domestic surveillance program.

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