Edward Snowden Praises Rand Paul's Anti-Patriot Act ‘Filibuster’
In a Reddit AMA session Thursday, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden praised Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's 10-hour, 31-minute attempt to slow down a vote on renewing the Patriot Act.
"It represents a sea change from a few years ago, when intrusive new surveillance laws were passed without any kind of meaningful opposition or debate," Snowden wrote. "Whatever you think about Rand Paul or his politics, it's important to remember that when he took the floor to say 'No' to any length of reauthorization of the Patriot Act, he was speaking for the majority of Americans–more than 60% of whom want to see this kind of mass surveillance reformed or ended. He was joined by several other senators who disagree with the Senate Majority leader's efforts to sneak through a reauthorization of what courts just weeks ago declared was a comprehensively unlawful program, and if you notice that yours did not take to the floor with him, you should call them right now (1-920-END-4-215) and ask them to vote against any extension of the Patriot Act, because the final vote is being forced during the dark of a holiday weekend to shield them from criticism."
Anyone surprised to hear that praise coming from Snowden hasn't paid attention to his embrace of libertarian philosophy and politics–or the warmth returned by American libertarians. When Paul's father ran for president, Snowden gave then-Texas Representative Ron Paul two donations of $250. Earlier this year, a video Q&A with Snowden kicked off the annual Students for Liberty conference. Snowden effectively played warm-up for Ron Paul–but not before being awarded an honorary alumnus prize.
Ron Paul, meanwhile, has consistently praised Snowden as a hero who should be welcomed home to America.
"They really wanted to blackball him, to destroy him," Paul joked at the conference, "so they said he donated to the Ron Paul campaign!"
Rand Paul has not gone that far in praise for Snowden, but he's been far ahead of his Senate colleagues. While some of them called Snowden a traitor, Paul called his leaks an act of "civil disobedience." In Wednesday's marathon speech, Paul made multiple, non-judgmental references to Snowden, crediting him with exposing abuses of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.
Paul said less about his Senate partner from Kentucky, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "If Paul is your Senator, then Mitch McConnell is also from your state," wrote Snowden in the AMA. "He's the one spearheading the effort to reauthorize the same program the Second Circuit just ruled is unlawful. Don't send an email, make his phone ring."