Former Rep. Ron Paul says that even had an amendment to defund some of the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency (NSA) had passed last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, it would have been a "significant symbolic victory," but possibly little more than that.
"[W]e should be careful about believing that even if it had somehow miraculously survived the Senate vote and the President's veto, it would have resulted in any significant change in how the Intelligence Community would behave toward Americans," Mr. Paul wrote in his weekly column. "The U.S. government has built the largest and most sophisticated spying apparatus in the history of the world."
The amendment from Rep. Justin Amash, Michigan Republican, would have prevented the federal government from surveilling metadata — information about patterns of phone activity, though not the content of the calls — unless reasonable suspicion that a target was involved in terrorism existed.
Mr. Paul points out that with the NSA headquarters in Maryland and a new data center in Utah, the agency will now be seven times larger than the Pentagon.
"Over the last week we have seen two significant prison-breaks, one in Iraq, where some 500 al-Qaeda members broke out of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, which the US built, and another 1,000 escaped in a huge break in Benghazi, Libya — the city where the US Ambassador was killed by the rebels that the US government helped put in power," Mr. Paul wrote. "Did the US intelligence community, focused on listening to our phone calls, not see this real threat coming?"
The Texas Republican writes that Mr. Amash's amendment from Rep. Justin Amash, Michigan Republican, was an important move "to at least bring attention to what the US intelligence community has become: an incredibly powerful conglomeration of secret government agencies that seem to view Americans as the real threat."
"The leadership — not to my surprise — of both parties in the House voted for the police state," he continued. "It is encouraging to see the large number of votes crossing party lines in favor of the Amash amendment. Let us hope that this will be a growing trend in the House — perhaps the promise that Congress may once again begin to take its duties and obligations seriously."