Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) accused Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) of being “consumed” by the NSA and wrongly painting the agency as villainous.
Before the Senate left for the Memorial Day recess, Paul blocked a motion to extend the Patriot Act without debate or amendments. This followed his nearly 11-hour speech on the Senate floor against NSA metadata collection.
“This is a debate that should be had, and the reason I am objecting is because I’ve made a very simple request, to have amendments, to have them voted on, and to have a guarantee that they’re voted on,” Paul said late Friday. “I started out the day with a request for six amendments; I’m willing to compromise to having two amendments at a simple majority vote. I think that’s a very reasonable position, and if we can’t have that and we can’t have an extensive debate over something we’ve had four years to prepare for, I will object, and I do. I object.”
His office said the senator will “pick up where he left off in the battle to defeat this illegal spying program” when Congress returns May 31.
King, the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, railed on CNN against “people like Rand Paul, who, again, somehow make the NSA the villain when it’s al-Qaeda, it’s ISIS, it’s this whole array of Islamist terrorists we’re against, and somehow Rand Paul is consumed by the NSA.”
“We can’t allow it to expire, because the majority of both houses want the program to continue in one form or another. I would support it being reauthorized as it is. I realize that’s virtually impossible at this stage. Either there should be a brief extension, or they should adopt a bill that the House passed,” he said.
That’s the USA FREEDOM Act, which reins in some of the NSA powers.
“Again, I didn’t fully support that bill, but I ended up voting for it, because that was the only way to keep the program going,” King said. “The NSA is essential. I’d rather have it continue as-is, but at least under having it continue under the amended form, or the revised form that came out of the House. But it’s irresponsible.”
The congressman stressed that he’s “never met a more patriotic group of people than the men and women of the NSA, and I also believe that constitutional protections are in place right now.”
“The House bill would increase those protections, and there’s no excuse for it to be allowed to lapse,” he said. “If we can’t come to an agreement by June 1, because that’s the date, then at least have a 30- or 60-day extension so we can get this resolved. We can’t be basically, you know, fiddling while Rome is burning. That’s what’s going to happen here.”
Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard charged in an ABC appearance that Paul “has now decided he wants to be a liberal Democrat” and “undercut necessary intelligence collection, weaken the police officers and our intelligence services.”
“And Rand Paul thinks that’s going to sell in a Republican primary,” he said. “I think he’s deeply misguided about that. But I guess he sincerely believes it. And he’s welcome to make the case.”