Rand Paul to sue Obama administration over NSA
February 11th, 2014
06:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Rand Paul to sue Obama administration over NSA

(CNN) - Sen. Rand Paul will sue President Barack Obama and top officials in the National Security Agency over surveillance.

Paul's political action committee, RandPAC, announced plans by the Kentucky senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate to file a class-action challenge on Wednesday.

The suit also will name National Intelligence Director James Clapper, outgoing NSA Director Keith Alexander, and FBI Director James Comey.

A firebrand in the Republican Party whose brand of conservatism embraces Libertarian ideals, Paul is an ardent critic of U.S. surveillance programs, which he says infringe on basic civil liberties under the Constitution.

"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 said in a statement.

Ken Cuccinelli, a former Republican attorney general in Virginia who lost the state’s gubernatorial election last fall, will serve as lead counsel.

Matt Kibbe, president of the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks, also joined the lawsuit, saying any American with a phone should be invested in his case.

"This class action suit isn't about Republican versus Democrat, or progressive versus conservative. This is about defending the basic civil liberties of every American from a government that has crossed the line," he said. "Never in American history has there been such a warrantless gathering of citizens information. We believe it is time to put this before the courts."

National security leaks about bulk NSA collection of telephone and e-mail data exposed by former agency contractor Edward Snowden last year outraged libertarians, privacy advocates and many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle.

They considered it government overreach in the fight against terrorism.

Obama has defended the programs, but announced modest reforms to NSA's practices.

In a speech at the Justice Department last month, Obama revealed new guidance for intelligence-gathering as well as changes intended to balance what he called the nation's vital security needs with concerns over privacy and civil liberties.

Paul joins a number of anti-NSA activists who are unsatisfied with the proposed changes.

CNN's Alison Harding contributed to this report.

Filed under: Edward Snowden • James Clapper • James Comey • Ken Cuccinelli • NSA • President Obama • Rand Paul
soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. markthespot

    This is the only time I'll ever agree with this meat head. Otherwise, he's a completely self serving loon, just like his dad.

    February 11, 2014 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  2. bren111

    Another ignorant move by republicans. No wonder so many are leaving that party.

    February 11, 2014 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  3. Me Here

    I'm apolitical and I greatly appreciate this endeavor by Mr. Paul.

    February 11, 2014 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  4. Guest

    1. Maybe then I will sue Rand Paul for wasting tax payer money (i.e. legal defense for NSA/President).
    2. Rand Paul has no legal standing as he has no proof that HIS rights WERE violated.
    3. The Bill of Rights does NOT guarentee against "general warrents" and even if it did, it would not affect this case as
    a. US courts have already said the program is legal
    b. the had to get SPECIFIC warrents to actually use the data in any meaningful way.

    The ONLY reason Rand Paul should be against this is if he is a TERRORIST or he was in contact with TERRORISTS.

    February 12, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  5. my10cents

    Where was this outrage when Bush did the same thing between 2001-2007. You can bet that Koch Bros. super-pac money will be all over the financing of this law suit. When it was the GOP leading the data collection it wasn't a problem but a Dem, well "they must be restricting our freedom". I'm not particularly happy about all the data collection but it is metadata based and used to identify patterns. The individual probably isn't important unless a particular pattern emerges. To me it looks like Rand Paul will be using this as an early campaign vehicle and a way to generate media interest in his platform. I believe this effort is ludicrous because he will spend tens of thousands of dollars if not more to take up the courts time with something that will obviously be corrected without needing the courts because the active public outcry will cause the policy to change sooner than later.

    February 12, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  6. strangways

    ya think his upcoming presidential run has anything to do with this case? How transparent is this? Go away Rand Paul.

    February 12, 2014 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  7. Dennis

    Unfortunately it is also about safety. So many people believe it is the government's job to keep us safe but in doing so we sacrifice certain liberties. The question is balance. What is the appropriate balance of privacy versus safety. Some would say that they shouldn't be doing it at all and others say "Go ahead and listen." Where is the balance? Oh, and by the way if this isn't about politics then why didn't Rand Paul sue President Bush. There would be no statute of limitations. Part of the whole problem is that the law and restrictions have not kept pace with the NSA's ability to snoop.

    By the way, has anybody seen Enemy of the State.

    So there it is, what do you want safety or privacy? What is the balance? Who gets to draw the line?

    February 12, 2014 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  8. mr sensitive

    SOMEWHERE A VILLAGE is missing their________

    February 12, 2014 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Obama??? Why when his AG is also fighting against the NSA...Its called the Patriot act , remember It was bush and mainly republicans and some democrats that allowed this .. Its the law
    Also the SCOTUS will not view the case..
    Start there!!

    February 12, 2014 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  10. BWV248

    And Rand Paul voted to renew the "Patriot Act". Just remember that!

    February 12, 2014 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  11. AJinFLA

    Where was Rand Paul in 2003 when the Patriot Act was passed allowing this type of thing?
    Where was Rand Paul in 2005 when the government first admitted to spying on US citizens?
    – oh wait, it was a Republican Adminstration so he didn't notice.
    Save it Rand, you partisan phony.

    February 12, 2014 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. drudown

    Why would Rand Paul have standing, much less not sue the Bush Administration for AUTHORIZING and VIOLATING the Bill of Rights?

    February 12, 2014 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  13. Jerry

    I thought serving Presidents were exempt from lawsuits....

    February 12, 2014 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  14. LouAZ

    Be careful what you wish for Pandy Randy. You may find this all started with Dumbo Bush and Darth Cheney.

    February 12, 2014 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  15. bspurloc

    PATRIOT ACT exempts them all...
    but hey he is too busy with wah wah benghazi and other foil topics...

    If he wants to stop this STOP THE PATRIOT ACT

    February 12, 2014 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  16. bspurloc

    mr paul needs to write his congressmen to get the Patrion Act repealed....
    OH WAIT....

    February 12, 2014 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  17. Thaddius

    While he's at it, he might as well sue the majority of the Republican party that overwhelmingly voted to extend the Patriot Act in 2011. He'll have just as much luck.

    February 12, 2014 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  18. Corky

    What are the chances that anything materializes out of this trumpeting by Rand. Nothing like filing frivolous lawsuits against the government, especially when you hope to be considered a true candidate for POTUS in 2 years.

    "I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win," Paul said in a statement.

    February 12, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  19. searshoja

    This looks like a bunch of thirsty Republicans trying to do something successful for this country but since they're Republicans nothing successful happens!

    February 12, 2014 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  20. Thomas

    Does Rand Paul seriously think this whole surveillance mess started with Obama? Let him look to his precious "Patriot Act" to see where this all began. Once a government agency has a measure of power in an area that used to be off-limits, they will NEVER, EVER relinquish that power.

    February 12, 2014 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  21. Charlie

    Way to use governement time efficiently. Now the tax payers have to pay for this pile of poop.

    February 12, 2014 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  22. J.V.Hodgson

    I believe I am correct in saying this surveillance arises out of the patriot act and in particular article 215. And other parts that established the FISA court. the act was passed via bi partisan votes shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
    The citing of Obama, Clapper et al is purely political, and if valid must include all appointed NSA senior people since the patriot act was passed.
    That said the correct approach is to sue on the grounds that parts of the patriot act which led to this Meta data collection are Unconstitutional. but that has no dramatic effect and no personalities to blame except all those in the house and senate that voted for the patriot act.

    February 12, 2014 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  23. J.V.Hodgson

    The correct way to go about this is to challenge the constitutionality of the Patriot act passed by the George BUSH administration shortly after 9/11 In particular to cite s215 and the FISA courts powers. the vote was very bi partisan.
    But that would involve citing some Republicans OOOps no can do!

    February 12, 2014 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  24. wildman

    If you can't win on policy and intelligence, make up stuff and do crazy stuff to prove you have no policies or intelligence.

    February 12, 2014 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  25. Luther

    This administration seems to hold absolutely no regard for the Constitution of the US. Anwar al-Awlaki was likely a terrorist, and I in no way endorse or support him, but remember he was a US citizen. He was killed by an unmanned predator drone strike. His sixteen year old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also a US citizen, was killed two weeks later by an unmanned predator drone strike. Neither was found guilty in Court. As they were in Yemen when they were killed, there could have easily been a court hearing in their absence. If the Govt. presented it's case, the courts found them guilty, and sentenced them to death, I would absolutely support the drone strikes. None of this happened; however. It was basically this administration said "off with their heads," and that was the end of them. No court, No trial, and two dead American Citizens. Maybe soon it will be drone strikes to support the "war on drugs," then later we can call for a "war on political dissidents," who oppose whomever may be in power. If we ignore the Constitution for some, for what is perceived the "greater good." I hope I get to be on the side to choose what is good. Long Live the King.

    February 12, 2014 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
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