Democrats and Republicans engaged in a strong round of pointing fingers on Monday after inaction by the Senate led to key programs in counterterrorism expiring. Included in those programs was the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection of phone records of Americans.
Taking a great deal of the heat was Senator Rand Paul a Republican from Kentucky and a presidential candidate for the GOP, who succeeded in gumming up the works inside the Senate and forcing the programs to expire, after a midnight deadline on Sunday was missed.
Though lawmakers will likely move ahead in the upcoming days with new legislation that could lead to the same programs resuming, lawmakers warned that just the slightest of lapses would pose big risks.
Bob Corker a Republican senator from Tennessee said he was very disappointed that lawmakers allowed this to lapse as it hurts the ability to hunt terrorists down who are plotting to hurt Americans.
Paul, at the same time, cheered the program’s expiration as a big victory for all Americans.
He raised many eyebrows on Sunday night on the floor of the Senate when he accused his critics of secretly wanting an attack against the U.S. so he would be blamed for it.
Paul conceded while speaking on television Monday that he might have exaggerated with his remarks.
However, he challenged any notion that Americans are in danger saying the bulk data collection has not prevented any terrorist attack thus far.
He said what the big problem is that the 215 program as it is called, authorizes a generalized warrant for all telephone records and not just specific ones.
Paul’s stand of not supporting the provisions of the Patriot Act has caused intense fighting amongst members of the Republican Party.
It is expected that in the upcoming days the U.S. Senate will take up the bill the House already passed that ends the bulk collection by NSA of U.S. phone records, but allows the spy agency to search the records help by phone companies.