THE BLOG

Rand's Filibuster Two-fer

05/21/2015 05:12 pm ET | Updated May 20, 2016

As I write this, I'm cheering Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster against renewing a part of the USA PATRIOT Act.

He was several hours into his filibuster making many of the same points on privacy, surveillance, etc., that I've been making for decades -- since I started working for his father. We need to stop doing things that make us less safe as well as violating our privacy:

  • Some technologies that make it easier for our spooks to surveil us such as the Clipper chip's back door actually make us less safe with weaker security,
  • Bulk data collection violates particularity requirements,
  • Our Patriot forefathers fought against such abuses as the British Star Chamber and generalized warrants,
  • Surveillance programs are rife with waste, fraud and abuse,
  • The waste of general surveillance makes us less safe by diverting resources and attention from specific investigations.

While Edward Snowden is the whistleblowers de jour, others such as William Binney, et al., have also exposed National Security Agency waste, fraud and abuse that jeopardize our security. Via:

In September 2002, [William Binney], along with J. Kirk Wiebe and Edward Loomis, asked the U.S. Defense Department to investigate the NSA for allegedly wasting "millions and millions of dollars" on Trailblazer, a system intended to analyze data carried on communications networks such as the Internet. Binney had been one of the inventors of an alternative system, ThinThread, which was shelved when Trailblazer was chosen instead. Binney has also been publicly critical of the NSA for spying on U.S. citizens, saying of its expanded surveillance after the September 11, 2001 attacks that "it's better than anything that the KGB, the Stasi, or the Gestapo and SS ever had" as well as noting Trailblazer's ineffectiveness and unjustified high cost compared to the far less intrusive ThinThread. He was furious that the NSA hadn't uncovered the 9/11 plot and stated that intercepts it had collected but not analyzed likely would have garnered timely attention with his leaner more focused system.

While I'm happy to see these points now added to the public debate, I'm doubly happy to see him taking up the precious few legislative days remaining to reauthorize the corporate welfare of the Export-Import Bank!