BERKELEY — Sen.
Addressing a mostly student audience just off the
Accessing financial records under a broad anti-terrorism umbrella, Paul said, the government can tell "whether you drink, whether you smoke, whether you gamble, what books you read, what magazines you read, whether you see a psychiatrist, what medications you take."
"I oppose this abuse of power with every ounce of energy I have. I believe you have a right to privacy and it should be protected," Paul said to cheers and applause from the enthusiastic crowd of about 400.
Upon returning to Washington, Paul said, he would call for creating a bipartisan
Paul's civil libertarian stance and condemnation of domestic surveillance are well known. He filed a lawsuit this year against President
The suit is one of several challenging the once-secret program, started under President
Of greater note was the venue that Paul chose, a campus that has been a wellspring of bohemian thought and left-wing politics for generations. More than any other
He spoke last year to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, where he broke with many in his party by endorsing
Asked Wednesday whether his appearance at Berkeley was an effort to broaden the GOP's appeal preparatory to a run for president in two years, Paul did not rule out the possibility. "Maybe," he said.
Indeed, as vociferous as he was in his criticism of the intelligence community, Paul sometimes seemed at pains to qualify his remarks — the way a
"I'm not against the NSA, per se," he said of the agency at the center of the domestic surveillance controversy. "But I'm for due process to protect your rights."
Asked whether he considered
"I have mixed feelings, is the bottom line," he said.
Snowden's revelations were important and worthy, Paul said, but a constant release of government secrets "would lead to chaos."
Later, speaking to reporters, Paul said, "It's not my job to decide what [Snowden's] punishment should be. But I do think that hanging, shooting, stringing him up from a tree, all these things that have been suggested, are disproportionate to the crime."