Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul sharpened his rhetoric against the National Security Agency's snooping on American citizens Sunday, comparing the agency's programs to the British actions that provoked the American Revolution 230 years ago.
Paul said that one of the disclosures leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden was that "a single court order to the company Verizon that all of their customers' records would be looked at. That, to my mind, smacks of a generalized warrant. That's what we fought the Revolutionary War over."
Paul's comments came a day after he announced he's initiate a class-action lawsuit against the NSA “to stop Barack Obama's NSA from snooping on the American people.” In an appearance on Fox News, Paul said that any American with an email address would be eligible to participate in the suit, and that out-going Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would be part of the legal team.
"I think the idea of a class-action lawsuit with hundreds of thousands of participants really beats home and brings to the forefront the idea that this is a generalized warrant and it should be considered unconstitutional," Paul said Sunday.
Regarding Snowden, who is currently avoiding prosecution in Russia, Paul suggested that the 30 year-old former IT contractor could return to the U.S. in exchange for a reduced sentence for revealing U.S. secrets. But Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should also face consequences for lying to Congress about the NSA's activities, Paul said
History would judge that Snowden revealed abuses by the government and intelligence community, Paul predicted, and that Clapper hurt the credibility of U.S. agencies.
Snowden "probably would come home for some penalty of a few years in prison," Paul said, "which would be probably not unlike what James Clapper probably deserves for lying to Congress and that maybe if they served in a prison cell together, we'd become further enlightened as a country over what we should and shouldn't do."
Paul added: "I don't think we can selectively apply the law. So James Clapper did break the law and there is a prison sentence for that; so did Edward Snowden."