Rand Paul to sue Obama administration over NSA
February 11th, 2014
06:45 PM ET
9 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. vbscript2

    "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."

    First of all, I would assume that he's suing for an injunction. Suing Bush to enjoin him from doing something that he doesn't have the power to do anymore anyway would be kind of pointless (not to mention the suit would be tossed due to being moot.) Second, Bush, Cheney, the people who voted this stuff in during Bush's administration (which was most of the members of both parties) are responsible for this... and so are Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and all of the people who have voted multiple times since Obama came into office to not only continue all that was going on under Bush, but to further expand it. Even Piers Morgan admitted that Obama has been worse than Bush in regards to the domestic spying programs and he's hardly a conservative. Long story short, both Bush and Obama are guilty along with most of both parties in Congress and anyone trying to defend any of them is just a partisan hack.

    February 12, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. Rowing Stone

    Those crazy tea party repubs are at it again. Maybe he should try to bring up charges against Chaney and Bush who started this. These guys will do anything with the exception of what they were elected to do! May I suggest they you shut down the government until you get to the bottom of this. That worked so well before. His actions now will make certain he never gets close to a presidental nomiation.

    February 12, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. gladiatorgrl

    So what has he done for the people of KY???

    February 12, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    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...
    ------------------------
    Ummm... He's not. It's a publicity stunt, which is designed to keep his name in the news as the suit progresses. The man is a United States Senator. If he'd wanted to fix something in government, then he'd introduce legislation, instead of filing frivilous lawsuits that waste the money of his preciouis taxpayers.

    February 12, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    Rudy, The only one that is just saying "no" is the President.
    -------------------------
    "There will be NO spending increases without a means to pay for it."
    "We will NEVER again raise taxes." They even signed pledges to show how serious they were about saying, "No."

    Need I continue?

    February 12, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. kfb413

    it seems to me that he should also name George bush, dick chaney and the republican law makers who voted fie these law and regulations in the first place. as a Kentuckian, I am so embarrassed that my state would elect this guy to the senate.

    February 12, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. jboh

    Rand Paul has been getting all the attention. Ted has to get his news time too. We'll see Marco soon. They can't help piling out of the clown car for the camera.

    February 12, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. Nick

    Go Rand! Kentucky is fully behind you

    February 12, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. BADGUY

    I think we're making a BIG mistake by gutting the NSA. I understand why, at first glance, people are getting upset over its perceived "spying". But the NSA preforms a vital task in keeping people with Weapons of Mass Destruction (including Nuclear weapons) from causing Millions of Deaths, in this country and others, as well. I don't believe we've seen ANY incidence of "abuse of power" with ANY of the data the NSA has accumulated. Certainly, if such an abuse occurs, it should be corrected immediately. But allowing the NSA to store the SAME data that's accumulated by PRIVATE corporations (Google, ATT, Verizon, Amazon, etc) does not seem to me to pose any additional danger of "loss of privacy" than what's currently and already...in place with private industry.

    February 12, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Jammer

    I would like to see any one of these people leading this suit stand up in front of a group of the relatives of those killed on 9/11 and with a straight face tell them "I'm sorry, but it's more important to protect my right to privacy from the government than to make sure your sacrifices never have to happen again." I'd also like to see them take on the business and commercial side of this same privacy issue. After all, why should our personal information be bought and sold for profit, rather than protection – just so we can get more junk mail and harassing telemarketing calls? I just don't think that a group of people are sitting in a room in DC or Langley monitoring over every piece of my life. There are different prices to freedom – not just the easy one of being a soilder.

    February 12, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. The REAL Truth...

    This action is nothing more than free publicity for Paul.. who loves the exposure as much as Cruz and Rubio, et al. As we mentioned earlier.. if he was that concerned about his conservative beliefs, he'd introduce legislation in the Senate and work to get it thru the GOP House – which isn't going to happen, since they are happy to whine/complain about how it violates the Constitution, but ARE the party that instituted the NSA, NDAA, FISA and the Patriot Act.

    Instead the party of fiscal responsibility is going to waste YET MORE TAXPAYER dollars (to make Obama look bad) even tho' John Boehner believes "These programs have helped keep America safe” and drag this thru courts for yet another publicity stunt... simply disgusting.

    February 12, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    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. ...... .....
    ----------------------–
    What makes you think that calling Rand Paul's lawsuit a publicity stunt equates to support for the Patriot Act? Most of the people whom you've judged to be "hard core liberals" are against most, if not all, of the Patriot Act.

    Why is it that any and every one who disagrees with you labeled a "hard core liberal"? Isn't there such a thing as a "moderate", or even a "difference of opinion", in your book? Why is everything so cut and dried, so black and white? Isn't there some room for the gray areas?

    "If you're not with us, then you're with the terrorists."
    "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror."

    February 12, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. The REAL Truth...

    This action is nothing more than free publicity for Paul.. who loves the exposure as much as Cruz and Rubio, et al. As we mentioned earlier.. if he was that concerned about his conservative beliefs, he'd introduce legislation in the Senate and work to get it thru the GOP House – which isn't going to happen, since they are happy to whine/complain about how it violates the Constitution, but ARE the party that instituted the NSA, NDAA, FISA and the Patriot Act.

    Instead the party of fiscal responsibility is going to waste YET MORE TAXPAYER dollars (to make Obama look bad) even though John Boehner believes 'These programs have helped keep America safe' and drag this thru courts for yet another publicity stunt... simply disgusting.

    February 12, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    If they were serious about this, they would also include the Bush administration members responsible for setting up this surveillance program.

    February 12, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. rell87

    When did liberals become the defenders of government abuse of power and trampling civil rights? What happened to you liberals? There was a time when you said to never trust politicians and government. Now you tell us to reject the voices of dissent, embrace the enormous power grab of the Washington elites. You liberals need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

    February 12, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. Kath

    The Government should not be breaking its own laws. I am glad someone is doing it, about time.

    February 12, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. quinLee

    ....until the next attack. Then it'll become, "Why didn't he know more and sooner".

    February 12, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. Justin

    It's amazing to me how all the members of the Obama personality cult swarm to defend their great leader. Seems like similar behavior to what I saw in Pyongyang. They blame bush which is silly, the patriot act while it dramatically increased surveillance on U.S. citizens also set limits on what could be gathered and guidelines on how it could be gathered. Language was written into the patriot act that would allow it to be challenged if agencies overstepped their bounds. But by all means blame bush for everything if it is easier for you. All the adults will discuss this for real and you will be just like the 4 year old that we all find cute. Kids do say the darnedest things.

    February 12, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. tom l

    Rudy,
    I think that everyone laughs at you when you try to label yourself as a moderate. You're not. This is a prime example. I am not insulting you by calling you a "hardcore liberal", I am pointing out what you are. I don't know why you would run away from that as your posts confirm your beliefs (which are that of a hardcore liberal). I should actually label you a hardcore democrat because that's what you really are. The fact that you have a problem with Rand Paul is demonstrative of your "lens" and bias. I am sure you were against the Patriot Act when it was first enacted but not only do you remain silent as Obama has expanded the act, you actually now are supportive of droning an American without due process. Your words, as you like to say.

    All you care about is defending Obama and democrats while going after every republican every time. I think even Sniffit would laugh when you refer to yourself as a moderate. You can say it all you want but it doesn't make it true. Your past actions and comments, just like Rand Paul's, are consistent. He has always been against the Patriot Act and you are now ok with no due process and killing of Americans based on suspicions. And don't deflect that the way you are so typical of doing and go off on some random tangent. You expressly said you had no problem with droning an American before he was even found guilty or charged with anything. You have no problem with Obama expanding the spying. You think Snowden is a traitor today but if he opened his mouth during Bush you would have fully supported that. And you know that you can't put any repub label on me, much less the ridiculous "neo-libertarian" label you tried earlier as even Sniffit said you were wrong.

    I say, own your liberalism and democrat partisanship! Be who you are and don't try to pretend to be anything else. I so wish Fair or Yolanda was here to chime in...

    February 12, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. tom l

    @Rudy,
    And I'm the exact opposite of black and white (with us or against us, dem vs repub) as my positions on several different issues bounce from liberal to conservative. Nice try though...

    Maybe you can try to call me a neo-libertarian again...

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

    I sure see a lot of democrat hate going on here for a man that's trying to take down the patriot act.

    Hypocrisy anyone?

    February 12, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. Malory Archer

    tom I

    In the past, cons would condemn this action. Today? Not so much. They're so livid that they're not in power that they're totally cool with bankrupting the nation and at the same time they’re up in arms over NSA spying, (as mittens said during the run-up to the 2012 election), they’re hoping for another 9/11-type incident they can use to bring the President down. They hate 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 not in power.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    FIFY

    February 12, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. Malory Archer

    Justin

    It's amazing to me how all the members of the Obama personality cult swarm to defend their great leader. Seems like similar behavior to what I saw in Pyongyang. They blame bush which is silly, the patriot act while it dramatically increased surveillance on U.S. citizens also set limits on what could be gathered and guidelines on how it could be gathered.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Of course the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is responsible for shoving the Patriot Act down our throats – it came from HIS administration, and regardless of whether or not he's still in office HE AND HE ALONE deserves scorn for shoving it down our throats. Additionally, had President Obama done anything to try to scale it back your ilk would be here screaming that he's gutting American security, making it easy for "terrists" to attack "the Homeland", a "secret Muslim", a Marxist, a Socialist, a Facist, a Dictator, etc. etc. etc. to infinity and beyond. Hypocrisy, thy name is repuplican't party.

    February 12, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. Malory Archer

    tom l

    @Rudy,
    And I'm the exact opposite of black and white (with us or against us, dem vs repub) as my positions on several different issues bounce from liberal to conservative. Nice try though

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    However, none of those so-called "liberal" positions you claim to possess have EVER shown up in ANY of your rantings on these message threads. Nice try but I call BS.

    February 12, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. cristian

    i like paul
    he tells it like it is even when it's not politically convenient.
    i hate what nsa is doing, and so should you all

    February 12, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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