And he might just win
Early this morning GMT/late last night Stateside, libertarian favourite and Republican Senator Rand Paul announced his intention to sue the NSA as a result of the leaked information in mid-2013 of the global surveillance programs they were engaged in, one of which is the now household name, PRISM.
The announcement made on his Facebook page as well as elsewhere features a link for Americans who agree with him to sign their names to join and support the class action lawsuit.
The NSA’s surveillance program, as has been disclosed, was operating on an international scale, with collaborating nations including Germany, Britain, Israel, Denmark, Brazil and many others. The revelations of this global surveillance program were exposed by the now infamous Edward Snowden, a mid-level IT technician working for a contractor to the NSA, Booz Allen Hamilton.
No doubt the key motive for Senator Paul, the son of Ron Paul, to attempt to sue the NSA is the presumed constitutional violation which has taken place. The contention that what the NSA were doing by gathering mass amounts of data on American citizens was unconstitutional has already been hotly debated; both cases, for its constitutional nature and against it, have already been respectively provided with some level of legal authority. A District Judge, Richard J, Leon, has already rule the actions of the NSA as unconstitutional, whilst a Federal Judge, William H. Pauley III, has rendered it a lawful counter-terrorism strategy.
If no clear decision is reached, the Supreme Court will have to make that decision for the lower level Judges in any case. This, Rand Paul no doubt realises, is an opportunity to push for a lawsuit against the NSA on the back of this (so far) judicial indecision.
If Paul’s case can be taken to the Supreme Court, and the judge who oversees the proceedings of the trial there agrees with him that the NSA’s actions have violated the rights of the American people (which there appears to be no reason why such a judge couldn’t in theory agree with him), then the NSA can be successfully sued by the American people.
It may be that Rand Paul is doing all of this for a publicity stunt, of course. In two years time, when the next U.S. Presidential election is to be held, and having a public presence that connotes the urge to stand up for constitutional values would no doubt work in Paul’s favour amongst voters disenchanted with the Obama administration and the mainstream Republican candidates. But there is no reason that a publicity stunt cannot be cooked up for noble intentions. It is clear, looking at the track record of both Rand and Ron Paul, that an instance such as suing a government institution for violating the constitution is completely in line with their political careers, which focus on small government, upholding the Constitution, and supporting the free market.
Only time will tell how successful Paul’s lawsuit shall be. But if he is successful, the consequences of it, both for the nature of American government and the approach towards information in an age of global terror, shall be huge.
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