Cruz, Paul and Rubio in a Senate showdown over NSA spying
congress">Congress is debating changes to the Patriot Act -- through legislation dubbed the "freedom">freedom">Freedom Act " -- that proponents say will constrain government's ability to spy on the American people. The bill has split conservatives, and that has presidential implications. Andrew Napolitano has written a stinging rebuke of the "Freedom Act" and those who back it and sets up the Senate showdown between GOP presidential contenders Ted Cruz and Rand Paul:
Foremost among the outraged in the Senate is Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. It is none of the government's business, he argues, what we say on our phone calls. If the NSA wants to hear us, let them present probable cause to a judge identifying the person they want to hear and seek a search warrant. Paul's is a genuine outrage from the only voice among those running for president who is faithful to the constitution">constitution">Constitution.
Other senators—foremost among them Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also running for president—are pretending outrage by offering a Band-Aid to replace the Patriot Act called the Freedom Act. The Freedom Act gets the NSA physically out of the telecoms' offices, but lets them come back in digitally whenever one of these secret FISA courts says so, and the standard for saying so is not probable cause as the Constitution requires. It is whatever the government wants and whenever it wants it.
Napolitano hopes Cruz will stick by his constitutional principles and join Paul in a likely filibuster of the Freedom Act. We shall see. On the other side of all this is Sen. Marco Rubio, who is a full-throated supporter of the existing NSA spying regime and believes it should continue.
The Senate drama, then, could be between Paul and Rubio...with Cruz as the wild card.
It's rare when a Senate debate focuses on basic constitutional pinciples. Rarer still is having such a debate feature three presidential contenders of the same political party.
For once, the term "must see TV" actually fits.