Spot What's Wrong With Rand Paul's NSA Fundraising Email

In an appeal for donations filled with whoppers and conspiracy theories, the senator exploits the surveillance scandal.

| Wed Jun. 12, 2013 12:47 PM EDT
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

That didn't take long. Rand Paul is exploiting the NSA controversy for fundraising.

On Sunday, the Republican senator and libertarian firebrand from Kentucky declared that he planned to file a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration, claiming the NSA surveillance programs that intercept internet communications (for supposedly foreign targets) and sweep up the phone records of Americans are "unconstitutional." Such a lawsuit may be tough to pull off. But—coincidentally?—it's a vehicle for Paul's prodigious fundraising. On Tuesday, he sent out a "Dear Patriot" fundraising email asking recipients to join his lawsuit—and to make a contribution to his political action committee. 

The email is full of demagogic and apocalyptic rhetoric, seemingly designed to scare people into sending their hard-earned bucks to Paul to prevent Big Brother from taking over tomorrow. Noting that he fears for "our fragile Republic" and that "this is an absolutely critical and defining moment," Paul writes:

I fear, without your help, it could be the moment the American people quietly shrank from a fight and gave their last bit of approval over for government-run lives.

I know there are those who argue Americans must give up every last one of their liberties to win our country's ongoing fight against terrorism.

With such language, Paul is mashing up Ayn Rand and Alex Jones. The NSA programs, whether excessive or not, hardly amount to a government takeover of citizens' lives, and there are few, if any, voices in the ongoing debate about counterterrorism and privacy advocating that Americans must abandon all their liberties. 

Paul's exaggerations get worse:

[T]oday we know President Obama's IRS routinely targeted his political opponents and grassroots conservatives.

The Justice Department targeted reporters and their families for wiretapping and harassment for daring to criticize the administration.

We see the Obama administration covering up Benghazi then tapping Susan Rice -- who helped mislead the American people in the wake of that outrage -- for a promotion.

There remains no public evidence that Obama directed the IRS to target his foes. The Justice Department did not go after reporters for criticizing the government; it mounted aggressive—perhaps overly aggressive—leak investigations that sought information on government employees who passed secrets to reporters. And the emails released by the White House showed no Benghazi cover-up. 

Paul is not bound by facts. He claims that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects were not prevented from carrying out their deadly attack because intelligence officials, "instead of acting on real intelligence warnings" from Russia, "were too busy secretly sifting through the phone and email records of hundreds of millions of Americans." Paul is referring to the FBI not doing more after it fielded a request from Russia for information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev and its preliminary review found nothing alarming about him. Whatever happened in this case, the FBI did not fail to investigate further because its agents were pinned down rifling through all the material collected by the NSA. 

Yet Paul doesn't lose his stride. He accuses authorities of "unreasonably targeting [sic] every American into a target for spying." This is hype. Though the phone records of Americans are being hoovered up by the NSA snoops to produce a database that can be used for counterterrorism investigations, this activity—justified or not—is not the same as targeting all citizens for spying.

Then Paul goes even further with his conspiracy theorizing: "How long until these spying capabilities suffer some 'mission creep' and they start using the GPS feature in your phone to track whether or not you go to gun shows?" And it's not just gun shows: 'What if you go to McDonalds a little 'too much?' How long until Big Brother tries to 'fix' you?" 

So here's the real worry: Michelle Obama is in a command center at the NSA monitoring your visits to fast food eateries in order to send government agents (in black helicopters?) to intervene between you and your Big Mac. That's why, he says, you should join his lawsuit today. 

But, he notes, it will cost a fair bit to get his message out. Thus, the need to send his political action committee money. Forwarding a contribution to his PAC, he insists, is how people can stop "Obama's NSA" from "looking through the phone records and emails of a billion Americans every day!" Yes, he said, "a billion Americans." When Paul embellishes facts to rake in the bucks, he goes all out.

Here's the full email:

Dear Patriot,

I'm looking for ten million Americans to stand with me and sue the federal government and TAKE BACK our rights.

Can I count on your help?

Without it, I truly fear where our fragile Republic could be headed . . .

Recent news reports revealed that Barack Obama's NSA is looking through billions of our emails and phone records every day.

So yesterday morning, in an interview on Fox News, I announced I would be asking Internet providers and phone companies to join me in a class-action lawsuit to STOP this madness.

But my friend, today I'm counting on your support, as well.

As you'll see, I've made up a Joining Statement for you to join my class-action lawsuit, and I'm counting on you to sign it IMMEDIATELY.

You see, I believe this is an absolutely critical and defining moment . . .

My hope is, it will be remembered for decades as the moment the American people stood up to their government and demanded our liberties be respected.

But I fear, without your help, it could be the moment the American people quietly shrank from a fight and gave their last bit of approval over for government-run lives.

I know there are those who argue Americans must give up every last one of their liberties to win our country's ongoing fight against terrorism.

"Trust us," they say.

I also know their promises of safety can be tantalizing.

But today we know President Obama's IRS routinely targeted his political opponents and grassroots conservatives.

The Justice Department targeted reporters and their families for wiretapping and harassment for daring to criticize the administration.

We see the Obama administration covering up Benghazi then tapping Susan Rice -- who helped mislead the American people in the wake of that outrage -- for a promotion.

"Trust us" is out the window.

And even if our rulers were angels -- and you and I had nothing to fear from an overbearing and intrusive government -- it doesn't even work.

One of my colleagues, defending this massive program, stated the recent Boston bombing proved why we need programs like this.

Actually, it proves quite the opposite.

Instead of acting on real intelligence warnings from at least one other nation about the dangers the Tsarnaev's posed, they were too busy secretly sifting through the phone and email records of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Instead of unreasonably targeting every American into a target for spying, they should be focusing on only the truly dangerous.

What's truly dangerous is if you and I allow this to go on.

How long until these spying capabilities suffer some "mission creep" and they start using the GPS feature in your phone to track whether or not you go to gun shows?

What if you go to the "wrong" church? Or read emails from or attend the rallies of the "wrong" candidate.

What if you go to McDonalds a little "too much?"

How long until Big Brother tries to "fix" you?

That's why your action today is so critical.

As I mentioned, I've made up a Joining Statement so you can join the lawsuit, and I'm counting on you to sign it IMMEDIATELY.

If you can, I hope you'll forward it to as many friends and family members as you can.

Go ahead and forward it to the uncle or cousin you always get in arguments with at Thanksgiving, as well.

This isn't a partisan issue.  It's an American one.

And if you and I care at all about the future of our Republic, we need as many folks to stand up and fight back as possible.

I believe each new name joining in this lawsuit increases the likelihood of ultimate victory.

By joining my class-action lawsuit, you can help stop the government's outrageous spying program on the American people.

I'm asking phone companies and Internet service providers to enlist their customers, as well.

I believe we can win this.  As I mentioned yesterday, I'm prepared to take this all the way to the Supreme Court.

If we can get tens of millions of Americans behind this effort, I believe we can win.

But I can't do that without your help.

So please sign your Joining Statement to join my lawsuit IMMEDIATELY.

And if you can, please agree to your most generous contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50 or $35 TODAY.

If that's too much, please chip in at least $10 or $20.

Every dollar counts.

With your support, I'll immediately begin mobilizing Americans from all over the country to this fight.

But to do that, I'll have to pull out all the stops -- and not just with email, Internet ads and social networking.

I'll have to use mail, phones and perhaps even radio and TV to get my message out, as well.

This kind of program won't be cheap.

But it's critical.  It's an absolutely critical one for the survival of our Republic.

So please sign your Joining Statement and agree to your most generous contribution of $250, $100, $50, $35 -- or even $10 or $20 -- IMMEDIATELY.

Thanks so much for your support.

In liberty,

Senator Rand Paul

P.S. Just in the past few days, you and I have learned Obama's NSA is looking through the phone records and emails of a billion Americans every day!

Yesterday morning, in an interview on Fox News, I announced I would be asking Internet providers and phone companies to join me in a class-action lawsuit to STOP this madness.

But I'm counting on you to sign your Joining Statement to join my class-action lawsuit, and make your most generous contribution of $250, $100, $50, $35 -- or even $10 or $20 -- IMMEDIATELY!