Rand Paul Discloses That Another Senator Was The Subject Of Surveillance Under Obama

440px-Rand_Paul,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress_alternateThere has been comparatively little coverage of an allegation voiced by Sen. Rand Paul that another Senator confided in him that he was also subjected to surveillance under the Obama Administration.  Paul previously voiced his belief that he may have been the subject of surveillance and asked the intelligence committee for confirmation of any such evidence.   The surveillance of members of the Senate would raise extremely serious questions on the abuse of surveillance authority and threat to the independence of Congress.  If this is untrue, I would have expected a reassuring denial to be issued. Even if the Senators were not the target of surveillance, it would be highly troubling if the government monitored conversations with members of Congress.

Paul stated: “I know one other senator who’s already confided to me that he was surveilled by the Obama administration, including his phone calls.” Paul has said that he was told that he was subjected to the same type of surveillance, though it is not clear what sources Paul is referencing.

Paul warned “It’s about your own government spying on the opposition party, that would be enormous if true. I don’t know the truth. We’ve asked the intel committees, House and Senate, and I’ve also asked the White House, because there is this whole discussion of Susan Rice unmasking people.”

The last comment suggests that senators were intercepted in surveillance of third parties but then unmasked by the Administration.  Congress, as an equal branch, deserves to know the circumstances of such interceptions and any specific unmarking requests involving members.


97 thoughts on “Rand Paul Discloses That Another Senator Was The Subject Of Surveillance Under Obama”

  1. Former Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Monday that people shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss President Trump’s claim of being wiretapped. The reason? It happened to him.

    …Kucinich recalled how a phone call from a foreign leader to his congressional office was tapped in 2011—a fact he learned of after leaving office.

    “I had a resolution in the House to try to stop the war and [Saif el-Islam Qaddafi, son of Libya’s former President Moammar Qaddafi and a high-ranking official in the country’s government] called me to talk about it,” Kucinich said.

    “I cleared the discussion with House attorneys and a member of Congress is not supposed to be listened to by the executive branch,” he added. “The Director of National Intelligence under President Obama was tracking my resolution and I didn’t find out until two years after I had left Congress.”

    Kucinich had learned of the secret recording in 2015 when reporters from the Washington Times approached him about it, wanting confirmation that it was indeed him on the tape.

    “At the time I was leading efforts in the House to challenge the Obama administration’s war against Libya. The Qaddafi government reached out to me because its appeals to the White House and the State Department to forestall the escalating aggression had gone unanswered,” Kucinich wrote in column on FoxNews.com.

    He also said he doesn’t know if his call with the Libyan official was the only one recorded during his time in office.

    “I have never gone public with this story, but when I saw the derision with which President Trump’s claims were greeted—and notwithstanding our political differences—I felt I should share my experience,” he wrote.

    Kucinich served as a member of Congress for 16 years, serving Ohio’s 10th congressional district from 1997-2013.

    1. But, again, this was not surveillance of Kucinich, but of a foreign leader being tapped – what’s the big surprise? ALL those kinds of calls are routinely recorded as they should be. It would have had nothing to do with Kucinich but with the other guy.

      1. @JWBurdick

        “Kucinich had learned of the secret recording in 2015 when reporters from the Washington Times approached him about it, wanting confirmation that it was indeed him on the tape.”

        Do you not find this a bit chilling? When these things end up in the public domain without the same level of judicial review that would be required to target Kucinich, the assertion that “this was not surveillance of Kucinich, but of a foreign leader being tapped” becomes a distinction without a substantive difference. In short it becomes a backdoor method of violating constitutional protections.

      2. JW Burwick….,
        -It does have something to do with Kuchinich when he is approached by reporters about the taped call.
        That seems to be a clear indiction that the tape, or contents of the recorded call, were leaked to the media.
        So from a limited number of people…supposedly a very limited number of those authorized to listen to the tape….it goes to the media.
        Incidents like this should be kept in mind when we’re assured all of the rules, protections, safeguards, firewalls, etc. build into the surveillance state.

        1. JR …..I just saw your comment after I finished and posted my comment.
          I wasn’t plagiarizing you😧…..
          just that were both
          on the same page about the obvious problems illustrated by the Kuchinich incident.

      3. The People are the SOVEREIGN. The government is the SUBJECT. Kucinich is a representative of the SOVEREIGN. The Intel agency is an agent of the SUBJECT of the SOVEREIGN.

        Seriously? The SUBJECT surveilling the SOVEREIGN without his knowledge or consent?

  2. Aside from the fact that no reasonable person carries an expectation of privacy anymore due to government/private business abilities and proclivities, has Turley lost his mind? Rand Paul? The Paul family is comprised of anti-government, anti-tax nutcases who will pretty much do or say anything to play to the base that enriches them so. Hyperinflation is right around the corner. Buy gold…from us. I understand that blogs can broach the aethers of outrageous speculative fun, but Turley has gone hog wild unreadable due to crap like this article.

    1. There are principled reasons to disagree with Professor Turley. Ad hominem attacks don’t cut it.

  3. Washington, in general, is in trouble, including these allegations of the abuse of power in surveilling political opponents.

    The trust factor in our government must be declining rapidly. We’ve seen the weaponization of the IRS, NSA, EPA, FBI…basically the alphabet soup is up for grabs by Democrats. And I certainly don’t want to see this become de rigour, with either party ousting all the old political hacks for new political hacks, because that’s just how it’s done.

    The Americans who are not in politics or government jobs are always the ones who get screwed by these political games. No one is really representing their best interests in all these alleged shady dealings.


    1. Karen, you’ve hit on the problem that just may be a permanent feature of the US government in its current form tied to Lord Acton’s principle on power: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

      F.A. Hayek developed this notion in chapter 10 of his “Road to Serfdom” titled “Why the Worst Get on Top”. The Readers Digest version is that as government power expands control of state power becomes a higher and higher stakes game. Hayek makes a pretty convincing case that people willing to do the things required to reach the highest levels in such a system will be increasingly the people most predisposed to abusing power.

      Here is a pretty good explanation:

      1. Good post JR. Hayek of course has it right, but his is a contemporary idea on well documented political theory that led to our system of government. Sadly, abuse of power is an historical reality, aided and abetted by an ignorant and apathetic citizenry.

  4. While there is little doubt that the NSA during the Obama administration abused the “incidental collection” loop hole in the Fisa Amendments Act, nonetheless the title of this post, in keeping with other similar posts on actors professing membership in the Republican wing of our plutocracy, would still be better worded as, “Rand Paul Alleges That Another Senator Was The Subject Of Surveillance Under Obama.

    A detail to be sure, but one that some notice.

    That said, it is highly unlikely we can pull apart the strings that tie this particular allegation to reality (or not) any more than we can those of RussiaGate. Is this perhaps the RNC fighting fire with fire? If so, to be effective, they need the compliance of the full MSM, or at least a lot more than they have now. Just Fox and “The Hill” won’t cut it.

    1. Also, not quite as off topic as it might appear and as I’ve stated elsewhere, Assange should hurry up and clear President Trump of any wrong doings Trump is innocent of ( at least that Wikileaks is aware of) before Trump expresses his gratitude by putting Assange behind bars.

    2. “If so, to be effective, they need the compliance of the full MSM, or at least a lot more than they have now.”

      That will never happen because of the R. If Paul had a D, maybe, but Bernie had a D and it didn’t matter.

  5. Enigma…
    Re your question “what did Susan Rice do wrong” if she didn’t leak information.
    I went over this before, if you bothered to read my earlier comments.
    Rice lied through her teeth in the PBS/Judy Woodruff interview, denying that she knew anything about unmasking of Trump associates.
    When it was later revealed that she had done the unmasking, then she goes with “I never did it for political purposes” and “I never leaked”.
    You excuse leaking…..you said that even if she did leak it was OK….so I guess you can just as easily excuse lying.
    Earlier, I wasn’t sure if you even bothered to look at the two Rice interviews, or if you just lacked the intellectual honesty to recognize that she lied.
    Now that I see that it is the latter, there is no point in trying to engage in a meaningful exchange with you.

  6. Rand Paul has slowly become a caricature of himself, as he morphs from a guy with sincere if sometimes wild attitudes about personal freedoms, to a Mini-Trump. If the REPUBLICQAN CONTROLLED House and Senate Intelligence Committees cannot find any evidence of Obama Administration surveillance CONDUCTED on him or this “other” senator, I think this REPUBLICAN senator ought to check his medication. Did he or the other guy get PICKED UP on appropriate surveillance of legitimate targets? Entirely possible.

  7. Isn’t it common knowledge that Diane Feinstein was under surveillance a few years ago?

    “Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a staunch defender of government surveillance of ordinary citizens, took to the Senate floor Tuesday with the stunning accusation that the Central Intelligence Agency may have violated federal law to spy on Congress.

    Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, railed against the CIA for compromising the legislative branch’s oversight role — a theme echoed by many of her Senate colleagues throughout the day. The outrage was palpable among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and some suggested CIA Director John Brennan should resign if the allegations are true. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has stuck up for intelligence agencies in the past, declared a potential war.”


    1. Yes, hypocracy in its fullest bloom and blush. As I recall, they (Feinstein and Brennan) kissed and made up and all was well with the world (the stench sank back into the muck).

  8. “But such is the power of Trump derangement syndrome. Not only does it cloud the present, it obscures the past. Kristof claims that “Trump challenges the legitimacy of checks on his governance, bullies critics and obfuscates everything.”

    That might be true, up to a point. If so, it means Trump has more in common with his predecessor than the likes of Kristof and Tribe are willing to admit. But if such behavior wasn’t grounds for impeaching President Obama, it’s not grounds for impeaching Trump, no matter how much progressives despise him.”


  9. Who isn’t being watched these days?

    (Oh, I don’t think you like my comments, Professor Turley. Do they all go into the Turley bowl?)

    1. This is true mikeal,

      That fact should bother you as it is against our Constitution to engage in mass surveillance. Now, I hope it will also matter to you that the president may have been spying on members of Congress. Although most of them are odious, that doesn’t make the actions of the equally odious Obama just fine.

      We need to stand up for the rule of law. That means, even if we don’t like the other person, we care if they are treated unlawfully. This is even more extreme because it possibly interfered with our election.

      1. Without meaning to contradict you, one thing mass society has produced lately are masses that think their rules are individually and collectively implementable. (Democracy has been replaced demagogy.) In other words, mass anarchy is what we have today despite the Constitution.

        I enjoy the Turley posts. Is a real person or is he an Orwellian big brother (empty poster face)?

          1. No person who is paying attention thinks the rule of law exists in this society. It doesn’t. The only chance we have is for people to stop being apathetic or apologizing for how things are and get to work making things right.

            If you don’t care, no one is going to be around to care about you when the time comes. That’s a really selfish reason for caring, but it’s a start. Better yet, we should just care to do the right thing. The outcome doesn’t look good but the govt/corporate state wins when people say, “meh”–they win, every time. We don’t have to just hand them the outcome. We can at least try.

            1. I think we’re going through some heavy sociological changes. Mass anarchy (see the media) and anomie (random nutjobs) are symptoms. The levelling of morality so that it’s as complicated and as intelligible as a cell phone is possibly a cause. You and I seem to agree.

    1. Nixon was just the bumbling rube who got caught. The rest of the perps are much better at covering their tracks.

  10. It’s laughable that an elected official would be so arrogant as to think that they are not surveilled when everyone else is. Since computer and phone servers and surveillance cameras pick up everything, there’s no way to avoid picking up the rule makers as well as everyone else. If it’s OK to surveill the public, then it’s OK to surveil those who make the laws. The public is far more endangered by a secret government than by an open government.

    1. dl,

      That’s a good point. It’s not o.k. to surveill the public and it’s not o.k. to surveill people in Congress.

      I know Kucinich said he was listened into. This all needs to come out and there needs to be arrests. This includes the illegal surveillance of the public at large. This is exactly what a police state looks like.

    2. Senator Paul has been perfectly consistent in speaking out against surveillance of all citizens without properly obtained warrants, not just members of congress. He has been so outspoken on the topic it’s really difficult to understand how anyone with an internet connection could have missed it. Senator Paul is not arrogant, just principled.

      It’s too sad to be laughable that anyone sufficiently interested to post on a law professor’s blog would be so blasé about the inherent danger in an administration spying on the opposition party and the public more generally.

    3. Rand Paul and his old man are on the record saying NO ONE should have their information gathered. Chrissake, read something other than the HuppPo!! Although I’m sure you could find that record in HuiffPo as well.

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