Rand Paul is planning to file a class action suit on behalf of some 250,000 people against the NSA over its data mining operations. It’s a mostly pointless gesture (there are already at least two such cases going on behalf of specific plaintiffs, with district court rulings, and a class action suit will almost certainly be dismissed), but Rep. Peter King is spewing his usual stupid and hypocritical outrage over it.
“We can have honest differences about what [NSA’s] policies are, but what Rand Paul is creating is hysteria,” King said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday. “When Rand Paul is comparing [NSA Director] Gen. [James] Clapper to [leaker Edward] Snowden, saying Clapper belongs in jail with Snowden, talking about how all phone calls are being listened to, trying to create this paranoia among Americans that the NSA is spying on everyone, the fact is he has not been able to cite one abuse by the NSA.”
King said the Kentucky Republican “creates this illusion” of spying in an attempt to play off Americans’ fear in an “offensive” way.
“The same reason he was saying he was worried about the CIA using drones to kill Americans in Starbucks. He is playing on some sort of … fear mongering, isolationism,” King said. “Rather than using intelligent arguments, as people could well do, he is resorting to fear, he’s appealing to the lowest common denominator. And I find that very offensive.”
The congressman pointed to a report that NSA surveillance was key to stopping a New York City subway attack planned by Najibullah Zazi, asking what Paul would do if the plot had been carried out.
“The fact is there would have been hundreds, if not thousands, of New Yorkers killed, and Rand Paul just ignores that,” King said. “So I’m saying, if we listen to him, an attack like Zazi’s could have been successful, hundreds if not thousands of people would be dead, and what would Rand Paul say then?”
Gosh, I’m sure glad Peter King is above “resorting to fear,” aren’t you? And as usual, he’s lying. Najibullah Zazi being caught had absolutely nothing to do with the NSA’s data mining programs. He was caught because the British government found an Al Qaeda email address on a laptop they had seized after capturing another terrorist in 2009. That email address was already being monitored when Zazi sent an urgent message to it that revealed his plans. None of that requires suspicionless data mining, it’s conventional police work that was done with particularized suspicions and, I’m guessing, warrants as well (which would be trivially easy to get in such a case).
So King is both a liar and a hypocrite. Who could have guessed?