Op-Ed

Rand Paul: My commitment to Constitution, civil liberties remains strong

I have not — nor will I ever — stray from my defense of Americans' privacy rights against government spying.

Last year, I initiated a federal lawsuit against the president for his illegal, unconstitutional bulk collection program. I am an original cosponsor with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to eliminate not only the bulk data collection program but also prevent back-door searches of American citizen's records.

I voted against a recent bill that made reforms to the National Security Agency spying programs because that bill also included a reauthorization of elements of the Patriot Act that I believe violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. It was a tough vote, yet a necessary one.

Contrary to what the Herald-Leader avers, my defense of privacy has not wavered. My steadfast belief that Congress — and Congress alone — must authorize war has not changed. My opposition to the NSA vacuuming up all of our phone records has not lessened.

I have been and will always be a consistent supporter of the Constitution and our natural rights that are contained in the Bill of Rights. Anybody who says differently does not fully understand my positions on these important issues.

I have always believed in the text of the Constitution. Article I, Section 8 states that the "Congress shall have the Power to ... declare war." As I cited in my declaration of war resolution that I intend on introducing when Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess, President George Washington once lectured "the Constitution vests the power of declaring war with Congress. Therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon the subject, and authorized such a measure."

I believe those words are as true today as the day they were spoken.

I still believe that the United States should not be the world's policeman. My eagerness to force Congress to authorize an existing war effort is not inconsistent with any position I have taken in the past.

There is no more important responsibility for any legislator than the determination of when we go to war.

For the past four months, President Barack Obama has conducted war without congressional authority. My resolution is required by the Constitution and also significantly places temporal and geographic limits on the president's war.

While I did not believe the recent NSA reform bill was perfect, I tried in advance to find a compromise, letting its author know I would support the bill if they didn't insist on reauthorizing the Patriot Act in the same bill. My entreaties were not accepted.

The Herald-Leader has accused me of "recalibrating earlier positions," yet they may want to look more closely at my record as there is no one more outspoken in defense of privacy in the Senate. I have been, and will always be, a staunch defender of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and a "peace through strength" foreign policy.

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