“I think they get in a Washington echo chamber for so long and don’t get outside the beltway enough to listen to people in America,” Paul said of the Republicans who blindly support the [NSA metadata] program.

I’ve been all over the United States in the last year, particularly in the last week or so when we’ve been talking just about the PATRIOT Act, and we get hundreds of people showing up at every stop who are all saying you know what, they don’t want President Obama to be collecting their phone records. So I find that not only is it the right position, it’s also a very popular position among Republicans—just not in the Washington establishment Republicans. But when you’re out there meeting with grassroots Republicans, the grassroots by and large think that President Obama went way too far with this illegal collection of our phone records…

The Constitution doesn’t prevent us from getting the records of terrorists. In fact, a judicial warrant with an individual’s name on it allows them to collect an enormous amount of information. The FBI said last week they don’t have enough FBI agents. I’d like to hire a thousand new FBI agents with the money we’d save from ending the collection of Americans’ records.

Let’s spend that time actually collecting records and investigating people who are here and are inclined to attack us. The main objective I have is to the generalized collection—the collection of records when you don’t put someone’s name on the list.

***

Still, by standing apart from the rest of the Senate—even from his allies—Paul became a punching bag for supporters of surveillance. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that Paul and his fans were basically misled and misguided.

“Edward Snowden has done a huge disservice to citizens of our nation,” he said. “Those who furthered the myth of how this program is being utilized, the folks saying phone calls are being listened to—it’s sad.”

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, scarcely concealed his irritation when asked if there’d been conversations about Paul’s suggested changes to surveillance policy.

“The time to negotiate was a week ago last Thursday, when he turned down every rational offer that was made to him,” said Burr. “I can tell you this: There won’t be any negotiations with Rand Paul from this point forward.”

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Twice McCain, R-Ariz., objected to a unanimous consent request by Paul, of Kentucky to speak; he blamed Paul for delaying consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act and made it clear that he doesn’t support Paul for president.

“I’ve said on many occasions that I believe that he would be the worst candidate that we could put forward, not just on the PATRIOT Act but on his views on national security,” McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee, told reporters…

“The world is on fire, and we’re taking up precious days doing this,” McCain said.

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“I know what this is about — I think it’s very clear – this is, to some degree, a fundraising exercise,” McCain said Sunday. “He obviously has a higher priority for his fundraising and political ambitions than for the security of the nation.”…

Just as McConnell attempted to pass a short-term extension, Paul launched into his own impassioned speech— only to be shouted down by his colleagues…

“I object,” Paul responded. That prompted McConnell to launch his own speech. At times glaring at Paul, the Senate leader blasted what he called “a campaign of demagoguery and disinformation launched in the wake of unlawful actions of Edward Snowden, who was last seen in Russia.” Paul sat at his desk quietly, holding his glasses in his hand…

“I think he’s nestled in with a very large bunch of very radical people – from the left to the right,” said Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the president pro tempore.

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HUME: Taking the second part of your question first, he seems confused about which party he’s running in. These stances, either on surveillance or on who’s responsible for ISIS, they are not going to sit well with the majority of the Republican electorate. This isn’t going to happen. There’s a segment of the Republican electorate, which shares his somewhat paranoid views of things, and he’ll have their support, but that’s not a nominating set…

WALLACE: George, I have long felt that Senator Paul is one of the few original thinkers in this town. I have long felt you were one of the few original thinkers in this town, so I have a question. Could you explain to me what he’s up to here?

WILL: He’s up to two things. And the roles are intentioned. First, I credit him with conscientiousness as a libertarian, who really feels that the collection of metadata violates the Fourth Amendment prescription of unreasonable searches and seizures. So, let’s credit him. But he’s simultaneously a presidential candidate. Brit says he’s a niche candidate of a shrinking niche, because events are not playing out the way he anticipated two years ago when he began running for president. The world looks much more dangerous than it did. And today, last night his campaign sends out an ad saying, watch for my NSA spying showdown with Barack Obama. And, again, get ready, America, for the biggest brawl for liberty of the century. The problem with literally cashing in, this is a fund-raising device, is that it muddies the water and it makes people doubt, which I’m prepared to credit him with, the complete sincerity of the man. All the talk about how Washington doesn’t work, we have no bipartisanship anymore, the U.S.A Freedom Act passed the House 338-88. Now, that’s just an overwhelming law to set up the protection of this metadata that has to be accessed through the FISA court. Now, granted the FISA court almost always grants requests for surveillance, but still there is a court there. So I do think that at this point he looks somewhat – exotic (ph).

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In 2013, Republican views on foreign affairs were looking more and more like Democrats’…

Republican attitudes have flipped since 2013. According to Pew’s latest data, 57 percent of Republicans believe that U.S. anti-terrorism policies don’t go far enough in protecting the nation, and just 30 percent think we are going too far in restricting civil liberties. The percentage of Republicans who think we do too little to solve the world’s problems is up 28 percentage points, to 46 percent. The share who think we do too much is down to 37 percent.

Paul may have forced the expiration of parts of the Patriot Act late Sunday night, including the National Security Agency’s ability to collect telephone metadata, but his views haven’t spread to other Republican candidates. All three of the leading contenders have come out against Paul in his fight, even though House and Senate Republicans are a little more split. And Paul has fallen to sixth place nationally, his favorable ratings have dropped more than any other candidate in Iowa and he’s placed first in only one New Hampshire poll over the last year. Party actors in both Iowa and New Hampshire believe Paul is hurting himself with his positions on these issues.

***

Whether or not it was his prime motivation, as Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) suggest, Paul will earn a lot of money for his presidential campaign. But his chances of becoming the 2016 Republican nominee just went from unlikely to long-shot.

Shutting down American espionage and surveillance capabilities, even for a few days, is too off-brand for the GOP — especially at the moment…

Rand Paul sounds like a lot of Democrats after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That wasn’t a good place to be, politically…

Rand Paul seems to know the risks, and he seems content to go down swinging.

***

“I’m not going to impugn his motives,” Mr. Huckabee, a 2016 presidential candidate, said on “Fox and Friends,” saying Mr. Paul, also a 2016 presidential candidate, has been “very consistent” on the issue.

“And so let’s be fair to Rand Paul — this is not something he just took up because it’s a political cause,” Mr. Huckabee said. “He truly believes this, and I respect that a whole lot. I respect anybody who has the convictions and will stand by them no matter what the consequences, even if he’s out there by himself.”

***

A new poll from Morning Consult found that 27 percent of respondents prefer allowing provisions that enable the National Security Agency to collect bulk data on Americans’ cell phones to expire, like the 2016 presidential contender Rand Paul. Only 12 percent agree with McConnell that the Patriot Act provisions should be extended as they were originally passed.

A plurality, 42 percent of respondents, believe the provisions that allow the NSA to collect so-called metadata should be extended with some modifications. This includes 41 percent of tea party supporters and 40 percent of millennials ages 18-29.

***

With that change ensured, Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky, a Republican and libertarian ally of Senator Rand Paul, quickly declared victory for Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who revealed the NSA’s metadata program and many other state secrets.

“It was so difficult for Senator McConnell and Senator McCain to vote for the Freedom Act because doing anything exonerates Snowden–doing anything except reauthorization [of the Patriot Act],” Massie told reporters off the Senate floor. “That’s why they never wanted to change anything. And now, that vote that just happened acknowledges that Edward Snowden was right to some degree.”

***

For some reason, when the government makes calamitous claims about what Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) 82% is doing to the NSA, conservatives are falling all over themselves to believe the government. This, I would remind you, is the same government that tells us to “trust it” at the IRS, HHS, and VA.

In fact, it is well documented that the intelligence community has lied to Congress, distorted its operations, and presented half-truths in public. It is further well established that this particular administration has repeatedly abused the limits of proper restraint on government for political ends.

I think Senator Paul forcing the issue into the open is a good thing. Whether he sees it through to the bitter end or not, is to be seen, but merely having this fight and forcing the debate is worth it…

I would, however, remind Senator Paul that the very same senators attacking him now previously attacked Senator Cruz over his fight to stop Obamacare. At that time, Senator Paul joined with his colleagues in undermining Senator Cruz. Perhaps now he will realize he cannot and should not accommodate the accommodationists of his own party in the Senate.

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No matter where you stand on the debate over renewing the USA Patriot Act, understand that the greatest threat to democracy is not the rise of ISIS, Iran, and “lone wolf” attacks. While those are real and present dangers, the greater threat is this: Americans no longer trusting the people and institutions protecting them

Now the president wants people to believe that a reauthorization bill, with its own Orwellian title, the USA Freedom Act, will include “more transparency” and “help build confidence among the American people that your privacy and civil liberties are being protected.”

We want to believe him. We need to believe him. He’s the commander in chief, and there is a legitimate need to adapt the civil liberties regime to the 21st century.

But we can’t trust him, not after he broke his word and allowed Clapper to lie…

This isn’t a mere political problem, something that can be glossed over with talking points or surmounted in a campaign against a weaker opponent. It’s a crisis. When the American people can’t trust their leaders, they can’t be led.

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