WASHINGTON — Republican congressional leaders continue to support an expansive surveillance state because of the “generational” gap in the Republican Party, Sen. Rand Paul posited in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller on Thursday.
The Kentucky Republican said he believes that opinions about the United States’ surveillance practices within the Republican Party are a matter of age.
“Maybe it’s a generational thing and some people believe you can’t have safety without giving government wide and sweeping powers,” Paul told TheDC during the short car trip back to his Senate office from a press conference at the Capitol Hill Club, where he announced his lawsuit against the federal government.
Paul’s belief that the government is acting unconstitutionally by collecting communications data on millions of Americans stands in stark contrast to his party’s leadership.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have all said that they believe the surveillance programs used by the National Security Agency to collect data on phone calls are legal and necessary.
But Paul said younger Republicans don’t have as much tolerance for what he sees as a massive invasion of privacy.
“It does divide our party some, but I think some of the younger members of Congress are just like the younger people in our country, more conscious of issues of privacy,” Paul said.
Paul also expressed outrage that James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, “flat-out lied” when he testified before Congress in March that the NSA wasn’t collecting data on American citizens.
“Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions of or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon asked Clapper then.
“No, sir,” Clapper responded bluntly.
“The interesting thing about it is,” Paul explained, “I read that Senator Wyden informed [Clapper’s] office in advance that he would be asking the question. It’s not like he can even claim he was unprepared. He just flat-out lied and said they weren’t collecting any data on Americans and apparently that’s just a complete and utter falsehood.”
The constitutional boundaries of privacy laws were expanded in the 1970s after the Supreme Court ruled on cases like United States v. Miller and Smith v. Maryland, Paul explained, saying that the digital age has brought fresh reminders of the need to protect privacy.