Newly announced 2016 presidential contender Rand Paul vowed during his campaign announcement Tuesday to end the National Security Agency’s bulk surveillance of Americans on his first day in office.
“The phone records of law abiding citizens are none of their damn business,” the Kentucky Republican senator told the crowd at a rally in Louisville Tuesday.
“And as president on day one, I will immediately end this unconstitutional surveillance.”
Paul has been one of the loudest critics of such surveillance since the first leaks of bulk NSA surveillance programs by Edward Snowden in the the summer of 2013. (RELATED: Justice Department Halts Rand Paul’s NSA Lawsuit)
In the weeks immediately following the leaks, Paul was one of the first lawmakers to introduce legislation peeling back such programs — in particular the NSA’s bulk collection and surveillance of virtually all Americans landline telephone metadata records, including phone numbers and call durations, justified under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. (RELATED: White House Will End Bulk Phone Spying If Congress Lets The Patriot Act Expire)
Paul was also one of only a small handful of Republican senators to vote in favor of the USA Freedom Act defeated in the upper chamber late last year, which sought to reform the program by moving the retention of such records to a third party, and requiring the government to obtain a specific warrant before searching the data. (RELATED: Senate Sinks NSA Reform)
“Today I announce with god’s help, and with liberty lovers everywhere, I’m putting myself forward as a candidate for president of the United States of America,” Rand said.