By: Cliff Kincaid
Senator Rand Paul’s alliance with the ACLU, which opposes government surveillance of radical Muslims and other potential terrorists, is being defended by his Senate office. A spokesman told Accuracy in Media that “We will work with anybody that supports the following: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
At a Capitol Hill news conference on June 13, Sen. Paul (R-KY) appeared with Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union to announce a lawsuit against the NSA over its terrorist surveillance programs. The ACLU had already filed such a suit on June 11.
Murphy said it is Sen. Paul’s intention “to sue the government to stop NSA surveillance of Americans’ communications.”
Five days after it participated in Senator Paul’s news conference against the NSA, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department over its surveillance of radical Muslims in the New York City area.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has called Ray Kelly, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, “one of the great police commissioners in American history” because of his work against terrorism.
But Kelly and the NYPD are now the targets of a lawsuit from Senator Rand Paul’s new allies in his battle against the NSA.
In a “Dear Patriot” email asking people to join his lawsuit, Paul said, “I’m looking for ten million Americans to stand with me and sue the federal government and TAKE BACK our rights.” He said:
- How long until these spying capabilities suffer some “mission creep” and they start using the GPS feature in your phone to track whether or not you go to gun shows?
- What if you go to the “wrong” church? Or read emails from or attend the rallies of the “wrong” candidate?
- What if you go to McDonald’s a little “too much?”
Paul also said, “Instead of acting on real intelligence warnings from at least one other nation about the dangers the Tsarnaevs posed, they were too busy secretly sifting through the phone and email records of hundreds of millions of Americans.”
But it was the FBI, not the NSA, which acknowledged receiving information from the Russians about the Islamists involved in the Boston bombings.
Paul concluded his email message by saying, “So please sign your Joining Statement and agree to your most generous contribution of $250, $100, $50, $35—or even $10 or $20—IMMEDIATELY.”
People have been cautioned on one website that the email soliciting signatures for the lawsuit comes from a political marketing company on the senator’s behalf and that, ironically, it is designed “to collect your data” and use the names to raise money for the senator’s possible presidential run.
Paul also promoted his lawsuit against the NSA on Fox News Sunday on June 9.
However, former Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on the same show a week later, saying that the 9/11 terrorist attacks might have been prevented if the NSA had then had the surveillance powers it has now. He said, “The threat now is terrorists coming back into the United States using deadlier weapons than ever before to launch an attack. We have to know what they are doing, we need to know who they are in contact with here in the United States. And what this program allows us to do, and the reason it’s been set up and the way it’s been operated was when we went to Karachi and captured Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, we could get his Rolodex and see who he was talking to inside the United States.”
Commenting directly on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Cheney said, “When you had the two guys in San Diego who were future hijackers on 9/11, they were in contact overseas with their leadership overseas, as well as some of the rest of the organization here in the States. If we had been able to read their mail and intercept those communications and pick up from the calls overseas the numbers here that they were using in the United States, we would then probably have been able to thwart that attack.”
During the same appearance, Cheney said that Rand Paul was just “wrong” in his opposition to the NSA, and cited a Supreme Court ruling validating the government’s use of a database of telephone numbers to solve crimes.
Despite the hoopla, the Rand Paul lawsuit against the NSA has not been filed, however. His office told AIM it is in the drafting process. Meantime, “Stand with Rand” advertisements are appearing all over the Internet and on the website of his political action committee asking people to sign a petition to be part of a “class action” suit against the NSA.
In reference to his news conference, his website proclaims, “Sen. Paul was joined by Representatives Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Justin Amash (R-MI), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Mark Sanford (R-SC), as well as representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom Works, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Campaign For Liberty and Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein.”
Washington Post columnist Charles Lane has mocked the proposed suit, saying, “Who would win Paul and 10 Million Citizens v. NSA? Paul’s first problem would be a lack of standing to sue in federal court. It’s not enough to claim that the government is threatening your rights; applicable precedent says you have to show a ‘concrete and particularized’ violation of those rights or, at least, an imminent one.” He notes that, on February 26 of this year, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority dismissed a challenge to the federal government’s ability to track electronic communications between foreign targets and people in the United States.
In that case, six former Attorneys General of the United States and a conservative public interest law firm, the Washington Legal Foundation, submitted a brief arguing for the position of the U.S. Government that the challenge to the government’s surveillance powers should be dismissed. The six former Attorneys General were Michael Mukasey, John D. Ashcroft, William P. Barr, Edwin Meese III, Benjamin R. Civiletti, and Dick Thornburgh.
With his suit likely to go nowhere, Paul did introduce the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 (S. 1121). But it has no co-sponsors. The bill on three occasions cites “media reports,” emanating from NSA traitor Edward Snowden and his mouthpiece, Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian, about how “collecting the phone records of American citizens” is supposedly a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
The collection of this data is authorized under the Patriot Act, which Congress passed after 9/11, and has been reauthorized by large bipartisan majorities. The House of Representatives passed the reauthorization bill by a bipartisan vote of 301-118. A court order is required for any surveillance of an American.
The Supreme Court ruled, in the 1979 case Smith v. Maryland, that using a pen register to track telephone numbers involved in a potential crime did not count as a “search” within the meaning of the 4th Amendment and that no warrant was required.
The ACLU’s Murphy is on record as saying that “far-right extremists” deserve more scrutiny from the FBI, and that in regard to left-wing terrorism, “while several property crimes have been attributed to the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, neither group ever killed anyone, and the Weather Underground hasn’t existed for at least thirty years…” In fact, two members of the May 19th Communist Organization, a spin-off from the Weather Underground, are still on the FBI’s list of fugitive terrorists.
One of the left-wing terrorists on the list, Josephine Sunshine Overaker, is on the run because of “multiple charges related to her alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell,” the FBI says. “Overaker was charged with two conspiracy violations related to seventeen incidents, five counts of arson, one count of attempted arson, and one count of destruction of an energy facility. These crimes occurred in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and Wyoming, and date back to 1996. Many of the crimes she is accused of participating in were claimed to be committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).”
The FBI recently added convicted cop-killer and Weather Underground associate Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, to the “Most Wanted Terrorists List.” She is living in Cuba under the protection of the Castro regime.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].