PHILADELPHIA — Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul traveled to the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on Monday to call on President Obama to end the NSA’s program that collects bulk phone record data of American citizens.
“Here in front of Independence Hall, I call for the president to obey the law,” the Kentucky senator said in an afternoon press conference, surrounded by supporters with campaign signs. “The court said last week that it is illegal to collect all of your phone records, all of the time, without a warrant with your name on it. I call on the president today to immediately end the bulk collection of our phone records.”
On the Independence Mall at the corner of 5th and Market Streets, Paul railed against the NSA’s program: “I don’t know anyone named Mr. Verizon. That is not a valid warrant. That is a general warrant. And that’s what we fought the revolution over. Our Founding Fathers would be appalled to know that we are writing one single warrant and collecting everyone’s phone records all the time.”
Asked whether he will filibuster the upcoming vote on the extension of the Patriot Act, which the NSA uses to carry out the bulk collection program, Paul replied: “I will do everything possible. The rules are tricky in the Senate, so I don’t know what I can promise. But we will do everything possible, including filibustering the Patriot Act, to stop that.”
Paul’s position puts him at odds with other Republicans likely to run for president, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who said on the NSA program on Monday: “Let me be clear — all these fears are baloney. When it comes to fighting terrorism, our government is not the enemy.”
“They want you to think that there’s a government spook listening in every time you pick up the phone or Skype with your grandkids,” Christie said of NSA skeptics. “They want you to think of our intelligence community as the bad guys, straight out of the ‘Bourne Identity’ or a Hollywood thriller. And they want you to think that if we weakened our capabilities, the rest of the world would love us more.”
Paul spent the day campaigning in Philadelphia, kicking off the morning with a roundtable discussion at the National Constitution Center with local radio host Dom Giordano. Following his press conference, he took a tour of Independence Hall.