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Public Statements

The Budget

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I rise in response to a scurrilous accusation. I have been accused of wanting to allow terrorists who attack America to have weapons. To be attacked of such a belief when I am here to discuss and debate the constitutionality of the PATRIOT Act is offensive. I find it personally insulting, and I think it demeans the body--it demeans the Senate body and the people that we cannot have an intelligent debate over the constitutionality of this bill.

I am somehow to be told that because I believe a judge should sign a warrant, that I am in favor of terrorists having weapons? The absurdity of it. The insult of it. If one argues that judges should sign warrants before they go into the house of an alleged murderer, are you in favor of murder?

Can we not have a debate on a higher plane--a debate over whether there should be some constitutional protections, some constitutional procedure--than to come to the floor and accuse me of being in favor of giving weapons to terrorists?

The question is, Can our Constitution withstand, is our Constitution strong enough that we could actually capture terrorists and protect our liberties at the same time? Should we have some rules that say, before they come into your house, before they go into your banking records, that a judge should be asked for permission; that there should be judicial review? Do we want a lawless land? Do we want a land that is so much without restraint, a government without restraint, that at any point in time they can come into your house? We were very worried about that very thing. That is why our country was founded on such principles as the fourth amendment, to protect us from an overzealous government.

But to transfer an argument, where good people might disagree, into an accusation that I would let terrorists have weapons? No, I believe we would stop terrorism but do it in a constitutional fashion, where one would have a warrant issued by a judge.

Some people say, we don't have enough time to do that. At 3 in the morning, judges are routinely called when someone is accused of rape or accused of murder. When there is an alleged crime, we get warrants, and it works. It has worked for 225 years, until we decided to throw out the Constitution. We threw out the Constitution with the PATRIOT Act because we changed the Constitution--not by two-thirds in this body voting for it and not by three-fourths of the States but by a scared 51 percent who threw out their liberties. They said: Make me safe. Make me safe. I am afraid. Make me safe. But they gave up their liberties.

I think that was a mistake, and I think we should have an intelligent and rational discussion. I don't think it furthers the debate to accuse someone who has constitutional concerns about the way we are doing things of being in favor of putting weapons into the hands of terrorists. I object strongly to this.

The leader has said they will compromise. He said 1 week of debate in February and open amendments; that they would be open to amendments--even amendments they disagreed with. We will do whatever people feel is appropriate on this bill. That doesn't mean just amendments that are not emotional or just amendments that have nothing to do with guns.

They are petrified to vote on issues over guns because they know a lot of people in America favor the second amendment; that they own guns and want to protect that right to own guns and the right to have those records not sifted through by the government. We don't want to have a government that eventually will allow for direction of the police toward those who own guns. We don't want our records to be public. We don't want our records to be sifted through by a government without judicial review. But they do not want to vote on this because they know the American people agree with us. If we polled this question, we would find 80 to 90 percent of Americans don't want their banking records, don't want their gun records to be sifted through by a government without a judge ever giving any approval.

This is a constitutional question, and I would ask the leader to stand by his agreement to an open amendment process.

At this time, I ask unanimous consent that my amendments, Nos. 363, 365, and 368, be in order, with 1 hour of debate on each, followed by a rollcall vote. I ask unanimous consent that this occur at this time.


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