The Senate debate over extending three key sections of the egregiously misnamed USA PATRIOT Act is over, and the winner is . . . Sen. Rand Paul.
The losers are clearly Sens. Mitch McConnell and John McCain, both of whom tried desperately to win an extension of what Paul accurately described as “that most unpatriotic of Acts.”
While a number of other senators, mostly Democrats—especially Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)—helped the junior senator from Kentucky in the course of his historic filibuster, it was clearly Paul who bore the main burden of carrying on the debate for so long that the act expired at midnight on June 1, before McConnell & Co. knew what hit them.
In the end, Section 215—the provision in the act that was being interpreted by government and its judicial handmaiden, the secret FISA court, as allowing for the collection of all our data—lay in the dust. Waiting in the wings was the USA Freedom Act, which was touted as a reform bill that would gut Section 215. In reality, the new legislation would simply transfer our purloined data to the big internet and telephone companies, which could then be compelled by the government to hand it over on demand.
And this is the important point: Senator Paul opposed that one, too, while the “reformers” on both the left and the right held it up as a “reasonable” alternative to Section 215. ...