So Congress finally did something right! Key provisions of the Patriot Act expired Sunday, including the bulk collection of phone metadata. The man who has made this happen and who is still fighting the fight, Sen. Rand Paul, joined Glenn on radio Monday.
Related: Check out Rand Paul's new book, Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America.
GLENN: Rand Paul is going to be joining us in just a few minutes. Today is a very busy day for him. He's fighting off John McCain and all the Republicans who are coming after him. A lot of people are really upset at him because it sounds like he is blaming us for terror. And that's what I've heard from several people. I happen to be a little more reflective on that. And I think that, you know, our policies have led to a lot of our problems today. We're not responsible for terror. Islam as it is understood -- the Islamists, I should say, are responsible for the terror. But we do play a role in our own demise here.
Last night, the Patriot Act was suspended. And at least provisions in the Patriot Act. Which I think is a very good thing. Now, whether they actually stop spying on us and what this new bill coming out of the House actually does, Rand Paul says it's actually perhaps a bit worse than the Patriot Act. We have yet to see. Rand Paul is with us now. Hello, Senator, how are you, sir?
RAND: Good. Good morning, Glenn, thanks for having me.
GLENN: Let's address first things first. What has been suspended on the Patriot Act?
RAND: There are three provisions. One of them is the provision that says that the government can collect records that are relevant to an investigation. The problem here is that the government has used that provision to collect all the phone records from all Americans. And the court has said that this is illegal because, how could they be relevant if you're not just getting some of them? If you're getting all of them, how could you say that every record in America is relevant to an investigation investigation? So the court sent them to legal. I don't trust this president to be looking at all the phone records of every American.
They haven't been very trustworthy with the IRS or with religious groups or Tea Party groups. I don't really want this president having all of our phone records. But the good news is that in this battle, the one thing that will come out of this week is that the government will no longer be collecting, in bulk, your phone records. Now, there is a question whether or not the replacement will actually work because I think it will still allow the phone companies to have mass collection of -- and sorting through all the American phone records. So I'm still concerned about it, but I think it will be a step forward.
GLENN: Okay. And I know you mean this as well. I'm concerned with any president having this capability. I don't want anybody having this capability. When it comes to a private business, the phone company, you know, storing all of the records, et cetera, et cetera, as long as they can only use it -- or, give it to the government with a specific warrant, do you have a problem with that?
RAND: No. And, in fact, that's the whole argument. I want to look at more records of terrorists. I just don't want to look at records of all Americans for whom no suspicion for example, the Boston bomber. If you had came to me a year before the bombing and said, well, and let's say I'm a judge. And you ask me, well, the Russians have tipped us off. And we have some evidence that he's going to fly -- he flew back to Chechnya. Would you let us tap his phone? I would say absolutely without a heartbeat. And they say, well, he called 100 people, and five of them live in Chechnya. Can we trace their phone call too? Absolutely.
All I'm asking for is not to collect everybody's records indiscriminately. I want more time spent -- in fact, I told them last night, I would take the billions we're spending collecting all American's records, and I would hire 1,000 new FBI agents to specifically go after the jihadists. The FBI said this week, they don't have enough manpower. Let's hire more, but let's quit indiscriminately looking at American's records.
STU: Creating jobs already. Look at that.
GLENN: So why are people like John McCain so dead-set against this? You know, he's doing exactly what they did to Ted Cruz, you know, with the government shutdown. Except you are responsible for this one. Where Cruz wasn't responsible for that.
RAND: It's an argument for term limits. You know, some people get there and they stay too long. People become out of touch with America. I tell people get outside the Beltway more. Go visit America. I've been traveling America. I've been out there in town halls. Fifty, 200 people, they're coming out in large numbers saying they don't want President Obama collecting their phone records. They don't trust him. And the people up here defending President Obama's collection, which has now been determined illegal by the courts, I don't know. I think if they went home, they might hear a different story.
GLENN: You've said this twice. And it concerns me. Because now you've used this -- and you've heard this from constituents. They don't want Obama doing it. Have we learned enough that we don't want the Bushes doing it or we don't want President Rand Paul doing it. Have we learned enough?
RAND: And that's sort of the problem. When you have Republicans in power, Republican Congresses have given more power to Republicans. When you have Democrats in power, Democrats give more power. And over the past 100 years, probably the number one problem we have in our country is, we used to have coequal branches. But now the presidency has become so large. The bureaucracy is so large that the presidency is probably 100 times more powerful than Congress now. And often the lowliest bureaucrat in the administration has more power than your congressman.
GLENN: So let's turn to something that I -- that has been said about you. In fact, where was it? It was on the Face the Nation or one of those crappy shows, where one of those guys was saying -- a fellow Republican.
PAT: It was Bobby Jindal.
GLENN: Bobby Jindal who I really respect and like. But he took you on and said you're blaming the Republicans for ISIS. Is that true?
RAND: I think it's quite the opposite. I think the only party responsible for terrorism are terrorists. ISIS are a bunch of thugs and terrorists. It's an aberration. It's a barbarity that's been just alarming. And I've been one who actually said we should declare war against ISIS. We have to do something about ISIS. But I've also been one that says, we have to look at our foreign policy and see if it works or not. I've said for two years now, maybe three years, that giving arms to the Islamic rebels in Syria might allow ISIS to grow stronger. And I said the great irony is, we'll be back fighting against our own weapons. And sure enough, most of the weapons that ISIS had came from us, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. We were supportive of all those weapons flowing into there. We thought, well, these people may be al-Qaeda, but they hate HEP Assad. So we'll choose al-Qaeda over Assad. And that was a big mistake.
Even our ambassador at the time, they asked him in the Foreign Relations Committee, they said, will some of these people be fighting alongside al-Qaeda? And he said, it is inevitable that the weapons we give to people, that these people will fight alongside al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ultimately beside ISIS. But it turned out ISIS was stronger than everybody else. ISIS grabbed up all the money and the weapons. So the money is ours and the weapons are ours. It's foolish to not have a discussion whether that was a good idea or not.
GLENN: So here's the one complaint that -- and, by the way, I talked to a guy who is probably ten years older than I am. Really deeply conservative. Deeply religious. And I said to him. So who do you think you'll vote for? Without a doubt, quick as -- I just couldn't believe it. Because he's not the stereotypically Libertarian guy. And he said Rand Paul. And I said, really? How come? And he said, because he's standing and saying the things that I want to say and he's standing for the same principles that I have.
So I think that there is -- I think there's a surprise coming for a lot of people when it comes to you. Let me --
RAND: The interesting thing about the debate up here too is it's lopsided. It almost seems like a dog pile some days on me. When you go outside the Beltway, it's a lot different. These people misunderstand the American people. I think the vast majority of Republicans don't want -- and it may not be intellectual enough to say all presidents, but they particularly don't want this president collecting their phone records. And so the people up here championing, allowing President Obama to collect all of our phone records, I just think they're out of step. And if they got home, they would find out that the people want otherwise.
GLENN: What I want to say to you -- and you've kind of touched on this and I want you to go further on it. The one thing I'm not comfortable with it and it's only because we haven't discussed it. And I hear this about you and Libertarians. And they say, well, I don't know if he's the guy to really go for. Because what will he do in the Middle East? You just touched on it. You said you would declare war on ISIS. What does that mean to you?
RAND: Well, see, I would have done things completely different. Last summer when they became active and they marched and took Mosul in one clean sweep, I said that had I been president, I would have come before a joint session of Congress in August. I would have brought everybody back from recess. And I would have said, these are the reasons why ISIS is now a threat to our consulate in Irbile HEP, the same way Benghazi was threatened. This is the way our embassy in Baghdad is threatened. This is the way American interests are threatened. And this is the way that Americans have been killed by ISIS. And I'm asking you for permission to declare war on ISIS.
That's the way it was done originally. The Constitution said that Congress declares war. They're closer to the people. And it was supposed to be a big debate. We've now been at war for nine months, but had no debate and no vote. So I would go all in. I would also say that we should arm the best fighters and those truest to the cause, and that would be the Kurds. I wouldn't send it through the Shiite government in Baghdad. I would load up as many aircraft of weapons from Afghanistan where they're no longer being used, I'd put them on big transport planes and I would land them directly in Kurdistan. And I would tell the Kurds: You fight hard for your country. And when you end, it will be yours. It will be Kurdistan up there. And I would talk to the Turks. And I would say: Look, the Kurds are going to give up their pretensions to wanting any Turkish territory, but you need to fight too. You're our NATO ally. You need to come in and fight.
And I think ultimately if we could get our allies there on the ground, ISIS could be wiped out. But it won't just be wiped out by Americans. It will take Arab boots on the ground to get it done.
GLENN: So we're in this really weird situation where I don't think Americans want to fight war anymore. Because we don't even know what it's about anymore. And even the hawkish of the hawks. I mean, when September 11th came around, you know, I was put a boot up their ass and let's move on. But even me now, I am -- I am, you know, let's pull back. Let's not do all of this. We can't be these kinds of people. You said, you know, I would have done things differently. And that's what President Obama said for the first four years when he had power. And I understand that you're not the president. And you didn't have the power now. But when you get in, you know how bad it is. Can the president still move in a Libertarian way and reduce our presence and yet still have a very hard stick?
RAND: Yeah. And I think this was a lot of how Reagan operated. And a lot of this is misinterpreted about Reagan. Reagan believed in a strong national defense. So do I. I'm a Reagan conservative. Met him when I was 15 years old. Supported him from the time I was a teenager. Reagan believed in a strong national defense. Unparalleled. Undefeatable. But he also was wise about the use of it.
We had a couple little skirmishes. But for the most part, he didn't invade the Warsaw Pact. He negotiated with the Russians, but from a position of strength. And so nobody doubted that Reagan would use force if he had to. And so force is the mighty stick that backs up diplomacy. But it doesn't mean you don't talk with your enemies. It means you negotiate from a position of strength. And the thing is, for example, with the Iranians, I would still negotiate with the Iranians, but I would tell them, they have to give up terrorism. They have to give up their ballistic missile system, and they have to give up any pretension to a nuclear weapon. And if they're tweeting out crap saying that they won't adhere to the agreement and saying the agreement doesn't mean anything, then they're not serious. But I would still continue to negotiate, but I wouldn't accept an agreement that I didn't believe they would adhere to.
GLENN: Talking to Rand Paul running for president of the United States. The guy responsible for the Patriot Act being suspended today. Also, author of a new book, Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America.
Senator, we were talking before we came on the air, as much as I would like to believe they shut it down yesterday, they started shutting it down at 3:57 p.m. I think that's a bunch of bullcrap. Do you actually believe they've actually stopped collecting information today?
RAND: You have to be careful how they parse their words. They might have stopped one program, but they probably have ten others doing the same thing. They have an executive order called 123333. Under that executive order, we really don't know everything they're doing. But they're doing bulk collection under that. They may well be doing more bulk collection under that than they are under the phone collection program.
So they also told us and informed us that in the previous Patriot Act, there's a provision in there saying that they continue any investigation that was already ongoing. So my guess is that since the bulk so-called investigation was collecting everybody's records, they could simply say, well, we started doing that before so that's an ongoing investigation.
So are they stopping it? I don't know. I mean, that's the whole problem with trust here on this. The president's number one man over there, Clapper, lied to us and told us the program didn't even exist. Now we're supposed to accept that they're telling us that the world will end and the sky will fall if it ends. We're doing it now. We're shutting it down.
And I don't know. There's a certain lack of trust I have for this administration.
GLENN: I just want you to know. As we're speaking, Lindsey Graham is announcing his candidacy. So look out.
Best of luck to you, Senator. Thank you so much. Thank you for the hard stand. Rand Paul. Taking a Stand is the name of the book.