Former governor Jeb Bush (R., Fla.) dismissed Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster against the mass collection of phone records authorized by the Patriot Act, saying today that the National Security Agency program is constitutional.
“I think he’s wrong in saying that this is unconstitutional or saying that people’s freedoms have been violated by the Patriot Act,” Bush said in New Hampshire. “I think we need to reauthorize the Patriot Act, and put aside who’s speaking where. The simple fact is that it’s been an effective tool to keep us free and to keep us from being attacked by Islamic terrorists.”
Paul described the legislation allowing the programs as “the most unpatriotic of acts” during a ten-hour speech against the reauthorization of the bill yesterday.
“The bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records all of the time is a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment,” he said on the Senate floor.
Paul was joined on the Senate floor by several other senators, including Utah Republican Mike Lee and Ted Cruz of Texas — a rival of Paul’s for the GOP presidential nomination.
#related#“Standing here with the senator from Kentucky, with the senator from Utah at 11:40 p.m., I’m reminded of the movie the Blues Brothers, saying ‘Jake we gotta get the band back together again,’” said Cruz, who also supported Paul’s 2013 filibuster in denunciation of President Obama’s drone program. “I’m reminded of previous evenings standing here with this same band of brothers in the wee hours of the morning.”
Cruz and Lee support the USA Freedom Act, which, according to the Heritage Foundation, stipulates that the federal officials must convince a judge they have “a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a phone number is associated with international terrorism,” before reviewing someone’s phone records. Paul believes they should be required to meet the higher standard of probable cause and fears that the bill will provide the NSA program with firmer legal footing than it currently enjoys.
In New Hampshire, Bush suggested he might be open to reforms such as those favored by Cruz and Lee.
“If it could be updated, modified, fine,” he said of the Patriot Act. “But it needs to be reauthorized.”
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review Online.
Editor’s Note: This piece has been amended since its initial publication.