Rand Paul to sue Obama administration over NSA
February 11th, 2014
06:45 PM ET
10 months 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. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    All the people in this GOP clowns district must feel short changed while this clown runs for president on their dime and does nothing for them?????

    February 12, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  2. gypsytoo

    ok, so if the people win – how much will we all get? what a nitwit.

    February 12, 2014 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  3. Jesse

    Fascinating – Rand Paul the "libertarian" picks a wackobird whose entire political career has been about ELIMINATING individual rights as his lead counsel. Guess The Cooch needed something to do after my home state of Virginia threw him out of office. Where were these two wingnuts when Bush and Cheney started the program? Are they going to sue those two has-beens as well?

    February 12, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Now Rand Paul is suing the government? One measure of how much of a loose cannon someone is how many times have they made statements that need clarification. Rand Paul has amassed quite the total. He's gotten a lot better at not shooting from the hip, but his record has already been established. We know what's on his mnd, despite the fact that he no longer comes out and expresses himself as bluntly as he used to.

    February 12, 2014 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  5. allenwoll

    Rand Paul is simply another noisome weed in our political lawn ! . Pluck ! !

    February 12, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  6. Franky

    Shouldn't he be suing the Bush Administration since the Prism programs started in 2002? And was decided to be kept secret in 2004 ... I'm just saying ...

    February 12, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. texasnotea

    It is horrifying what Rand Paul will do to smear the President of The United States to further his own Presidential desires

    February 12, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  8. tom l

    In the past, liberals would praise this action. Today? Not so much. They're so drunk with power that they're totally cool with droning an American who is "suspected" of working with Al Qaida. Who needs due process? They trust Obama that much.

    This is just another example of their intellectual dishonesty and how they really have no principles to anything but what they can do when they're in power.

    February 12, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. foxghostwriter

    Shall we add the cost of this to the $24 billion from last year?

    Now, it's not that I don't agree with Paul. I just don't appreciate that republicans have spent 6 years on scandals. They have pretty much lost credibility. He should have started with this.

    February 12, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. Ronald Fuselier

    These Obamabots would be funny if they weren't so scary. They literally like the idea of Big Brother listening to every thought that pops into their little minds. The same idiots who post every detail of their sordid lives on Facebook. Why don't you zombies ask for a brain chip from the government and get it over with. When are you people going to figure out that the president and the congress have no power. The big banks run our country and the world, the clowns in Washington are their for window dressing.

    February 12, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  11. Keane

    The President has immunity from any lawsuit.

    As a legislator, Paul is uniquely positioned to sponsor a bill, gain support for it, and put it up for a vote.

    With this dog and pony show, he is stealing from American taxpayers who will have to foot the bill.

    February 12, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  12. PK

    I'm starting to think that assault weapons should not be banned and everyone should have a weapon, we are going to need them to take back our country and government and get rid of every politician currently in office. Close all loopholes, get money out of politics and give this country back to the people. There is not 1 government official that cares about the people. only their pockets and what they can get for themselves. We might as well have a monkey with a quarter sitting in the Capitol all alone. Place a single bill with nothing else attached in frony of him and let him flip a quarter. Totaly non bias and no one can lobby him, and no need for elections, since they are rigged anyway. Just replace him with another monkey if his hand gets tired.

    February 12, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA wrote:

    What a crock. This guy is playing politics 24/7. And I thought Ted Cruz loved being in the spotlight. Geesh!
    -----------------------–
    Of course, this is a publicity stunt. It's designed to be an ongoing soap opera that's supposed to keep his name in the news. But, you can no lmore sue the federal government for performing its' *legislated* duties than you can sue City Hall for performing its' *legislated* duties.

    February 12, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. Evelyn Connaway

    Really? Is Rand Paul going to pay for the cost? We taxpayers do not want to pay for those stupid GOP politicians damn stupidity, of paying for things the don't like! How man democrat politicians sued George W. Bush for things he did that they didn't like? It is a waste of time and money. They would stop this nonsense, if they have to pay the legal fees for their stupidity!

    February 12, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. Rosslaw

    Poor Paul. Does he know he's a U.S. Senator? Does he know he could introduce legislation seeking to curtail surveillance that might actually have a chance to succeed? But of course that might come dangerously close to actually accomplishing something in the real world, as opposed to teatard world.

    February 12, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  16. mark H.

    Randyk you are right on the money..this is more about running for President than caring for the rights of the American people...the same way he cares about the people of Kentucky which he claims to serve. And Swedge70 is also correct..it's all about attacking a Democratic administration which carried on the same policies as a Republican administration. More money down the drain...why doesn't he give the money to one of these schools in Kentucky that beg for money all the time?

    February 12, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. hannah

    "Never in American history has there been such a warrant less gathering of citizens information."
    I guess Paul doesn't read history or he is trying to rewrite it. All of this started under GW Bush right after 9-11. It was a bad idea then and it is a bad idea now. But Paul is suing the wrong president. He should be suing former president Bush and VP Dick Cheney. They are the ones who are responsible for all of this.

    February 12, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  18. RWB1956

    I keep wondering when someone asks how the NSA has affected someone, nobody answers. Also, how do you listen in on 330 million people in this country? And I have to laugh that some are so paranoid over every little thing President Obama says and it becomes some sinister plot. " I can do whatever I want"," Fundamentally transform this country" I'll start worrying when I see some reason to worry. Not by reading the rantings of paranoid sociopaths. Wow.

    February 12, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    Can you sue someone for an item you voted him into??

    February 12, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. vbscript2

    "why dont these politicians try to fix problems, unemployment, homeless, budget, this NSA stuff. If you remember when you first purchased a cell phone they stated that your calls would be like any other broadcast through the air, anyone smart enough can intercept and listen."

    Ummm... He is trying to fix the NSA stuff. Maybe if you read the article, you'd know that that's what the suit is trying to do. I know reading comprehension can be difficult for some people, though...

    As far as "anyone smart enough can intercept and listen," that was referring to analog cell phones, which haven't been used in nearly a decade. Current cell phone communication is digital and encrypted. No matter how smart you are, you can't just listen in unless you have some way to break the encryption (or you happen to work at the phone company and intercept it after it has been decrypted.)

    "Unless, of course, you count the time under president Bush, when these policies were actually enacted. We all knew it was happening then, so why do you suppose it is these Republicans weren't upset about it until now?"

    First of all, if you knew anything at all about the Paul family, you'd know that they were equally upset over Bush's abuses of power; their voices were just more drowned out then right after 9/11. Second, these specific policies actually weren't enacted under Bush. The Patriot Act actually does not authorize them. The Obama administration decided to change its interpretation of the Patriot Act to authorize it. The original sponsor of the Patriot Act is on record as saying the section in question was not intended to authorize such suspicionless programs and has even tried to introduce legislation to change it.

    February 12, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  21. amisc1970

    I thought the job of Senator for which Rand Paul is being paid is to legislate. What legislation has he introduced or contributed to? I'm not saying that the suit has no merit; I just don't understand why he feels the need to be doing this rather than his job, other than the obvious of keeping himself in the headlines for a Presidential push.

    February 12, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. vbscript2

    "As a legislator, Paul is uniquely positioned to sponsor a bill, gain support for it, and put it up for a vote. "

    Four things here:
    1) He shouldn't have to pass a bill to stop a program that wasn't Constitutional to start in the first place.

    2) A lot of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are unfortunately complicit (Boehner included) in the illegal domestic spying programs. There wouldn't be enough support to pass the bill to stop the programs that were never constitutional in the first place (which is a sad commentary on both parties.)

    3) Passing a bill to stop the programs wouldn't set a legal precedent like a court decision would. It wouldn't prevent a future President and/or Congress from starting similar programs again.

    4) Passing a bill would require the President's signature or require that enough Democrats had the spine to publically go against the President in order to override a veto. If the past 5+ years have shown us anything, it's that neither of those would happen.

    February 12, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  23. tom l

    Rudy NYC

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA wrote:

    What a crock. This guy is playing politics 24/7. And I thought Ted Cruz loved being in the spotlight. Geesh!
    -------––
    Of course, this is a publicity stunt
    =====

    You guys are classic. I love the narrative that you guys develop. So, this is clearly something that most repubs are ok with (NSA spying) – especially those neo-cons and neo-libertarians (how's that definition working out for ya, Rudy? Since a neo-libertarian wants to fight overseas, how does Rand fit into that phony narrative of yours?). If this was for publicity and just a stunt, wouldn't he do what the majority of his party wants him to do? Again, you guys love to think you know what you're talking about from your "lens" but it is, once again, way off base as you don't know how he thinks. He appears to be doing this because he believes in it and it's completely consistent with his actions of the past.

    February 12, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    In the past, liberals would praise this action. Today? Not so much. They're so drunk with power that they're totally cool with droning an American who is "suspected" of working with Al Qaida. Who needs due process? They trust Obama that much.
    -------------------------------------–
    "This is just another example of their intellectual dishonesty and how they really have no principles to anything but what they can do when they're in power."

    FIFY

    February 12, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. tom l

    @Rudy and Dutch,
    Since so many of the hardcore liberals on here think this is just a stunt, tell me what was Rand Paul's (and Ron Paul's) position on the Patriot Act when Bush was in office and it was enacted and then re-passed in 2010. In 2001 and 2006, Ron Paul voted AGAINST the Patriot Act (Rand was not a senator until 2010). He spoke out against the act on countless occasions. When it was re-upped under PRESIDENT OBAMA, he voted against it. Amazing how liberals would be against this but, alas, they are for killing Americans overseas with a drone now so this isn't surprising.

    February 12, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
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