I just watched an hour Rand Paul’s filibuster of the Patriot Act, and there have been some inspiring moments.
The senator said that democracies are no inherent safeguard against depredations on people’s rights. He alluded to Nazi Germany as a case where people had elevated fascists. He cited the case of the late Richard Jewell falsely accused of planting bombs at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and said that if Jewell had been black, he would have been killed by a mob.
He said that the people had approved of the internment of the Japanese during World War II, and the denial of the right of habeas corpus to young people just because their grandparent was Japanese. And that could happen again, he said.
“Maybe next time it’s Arab Americans.”
“The Bill of Rights was not written for the Prom queen,” he went on. “The Bill of Rights is for minorities… it is for those with unpopular opinions.”
The massive collection of our private data is similar, he said, to “writs of assistance,” executed by British soldiers that were one cause of the Revolutionary War. These writs were served on American households without those households needing to be named. And warrants for meta-data also don’t name individuals. But the Bill of Rights was composed to protect individuals. And on the basis of meta-data people have been killed, so this should concern us all.
“This ought to scare you too,” he said: for the first five years the government obtained private records merely by presidential request, not even under the Patriot Act. “The government is not paying attention to the rule of law.”
Paul is speaking without notes but leafing through a briefcase jammed with papers and citing friends across the aisle including Ron Wyden and Bernie Sanders. I gather Wyden has now joined him to assist the filibuster. I urge you to watch and lend support to this valiant effort to preserve freedom and privacy.