This is a tale of my two senators, who have managed to put a huge hole in the PATRIOT Act.
The government’s authority to sweep up vast quantities of phone records in the hunt for terrorists expired at 12:01 a.m. Monday after Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, blocked an extension of the program during an extraordinary and at times caustic Sunday session of the Senate.
Still, the Senate signaled that it was ready to curtail the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program with likely passage this week of legislation that would shift the storage of telephone records from the government to the phone companies. The House overwhelmingly passedthat bill last month. Senators voted, 77 to 17, on Sunday to take up the House bill.
Mr. Paul’s stand may have forced the temporary expiration of parts of the post-9/11 Patriot Act used by the National Security Agency to collect phone records, but he was helped by the miscalculation of Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, who sent the Senate on a weeklong vacation after blocking the House bill before Memorial Day.
Let's get one thing straight right off the bat: Both of these men are irresponsible clowns, and the whole thing could have been avoided if the USA Freedom bill had been passed last month. Both McConnell and Paul concede that the USA Freedom act, which makes serious reforms to the NSA, backed by President Obama and both parties, was the way forward. Instead, ego, brinksmanship, and serious screw-ups left us with a self-inflicted wound to our intelligence capability that could have been avoided weeks ago.
Both of these men are an embarrassment to my state and my country, and as a constituent I'm furious. McConnell deserves a lot of blame here, but Rand Paul's irresponsible rhetoric means he didn't "win" this battle either, at one point saying that his fellow lawmakers secretly were hoping for a terrorist attack on US soil just so they could "blame" him for it.
If that isn't a massive load of idiotic nonsense, I don't know what is. Both senators have shamed this state and the United States, as usual.