Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, aspiring 2016 presidential candidate, attacked NSA data collection and spoke about several other issues at an event on campus last night sponsored by the Institute of Politics (IOP). The event was moderated by IOP Director David Axelrod.
The Republican senator said he disapproved of the cell phone data-collection program run by the National Security Agency that collects Americans’ phone metadata with a warrant. The Obama administration has been operating the program for the past several years.
“We have traded liberty for security. We’ve let FBI write warrants, search houses, and we now allow a single warrant to apply to all Americans,” Paul said. “The first African American president signed this, and when he did, he knew he did a terrible thing, and he said, ‘But I am a good man, and I will never use this power.’ That’s not good enough for me. I don’t denounce the current president—I worry about the next president, and the one thereafter; I worry about giving that much power to any president of any party.”
Paul filed a class-action lawsuit in February against the Obama Administration and the NSA, claiming that the program violates the Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.
The Kentucky senator also expressed his opinions on issues such as education, climate change, and abortion.
Paul criticized the state of the current public education system in the country, advocating for more charter schools. “Competition would make our schools better,” Paul explained. “We need empowerment of teachers, parents, and students through giving them choices, and this innovation is only possible without the rigid, hierarchical system we currently have,” he said.
“Nobody in Washington has any clue; they’re too far removed from the educational sector—I want to empower teachers to make local decisions,” Paul said.
On the topic of global climate change, Paul expressed skepticism about its existence. “The earth is 4.6 billion years old…we have real data for about 100 years. My guess is that the conclusions you can make from that are inconclusive,” he said.
On theories about the Statue of Liberty going underwater and polar bears becoming endangered, Paul said, “That alarmist kind of stuff really detracts from the case of whether we should or should not pollute. We should limit pollution, but if we don’t have cars, we can just live in the Stone Age.”
When asked by Axelrod on his views on abortion, Paul said that there are two extremes of either “All life and no abortion, or all abortion and no life.”
“Where the law is right now, we have abortion with no real exceptions for life, while it is my personal religious belief that life begins at the very beginning,” Paul said. “I think where the country is, is somewhere in the middle.”