Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the first sitting Republican to oppose any of Donald Trump’s potential cabinet picks, is now questioning the president-elect’s choice for director of the CIA.
“I’m a fierce advocate of privacy,” Sen. Paul said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday. “I’ll continue to be an equal opportunity defender of the Bill of Rights, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat president.”
Trump nominated Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo on Friday to lead the intelligence agency. Pompeo, known for his vocal criticism of the Obama administration’s diplomatic deal with Iran, has also advocated expanding the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency. He’s held that position despite the moves of a Republican-controlled Congress to terminate some of the NSA’s most controversial data collection programs.
Following the Snowden revelations, Congress voted in 2015 to limit the NSA’s power to amass the phone records of millions of Americans. Since that vote, however, Rep. Pompeo has said he wants to bring those surveillance powers back. In fact, he wants to expand the government’s ability to search individuals without a warrant and amplify the surveillance of social media posts.
Referring to Rep. Pompeo’s support of the Patriot Act and the NSA’s mass collection programs, Sen. Paul said, “It does concern me.”
“[Pompeo’s] been for expanding NSA powers. Many of the NSA powers were done, I think, in secret, without the knowledge of most members of Congress. Even some members who are authors or co-authors of the Patriot Act said, ‘We never intended for them to collect all that data in Utah, and they didn’t tell us,”’ Paul said, referring to the NSA’s massive data storage facility code-named “Bumblehive.”
“So one of my questions for Pompeo will be: Are their secret programs that even Congress doesn’t know about?”