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Rand Paul offers to settle NSA surveillance lawsuit

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Barack Obama,Rand Paul,NSA,Edward Snowden

Sen. Rand Paul suggested Wednesday that President Obama agree to settle a class-action lawsuit he filed against the National Security Agency, arguing that the president can use it as a legal vehicle to make the NSA changes his administration is now considering.

"If the White House is serious, they don't need to wait for legislation from Congress. They can act today to settle this matter," Paul, R-Ky., said about reports of a policy change in the works by Obama's team. "They should stop collecting phone data. They should acknowledge they need a warrant to access such information in the future and they should accept that this data is protected by our Fourth Amendment rights."

Obama's new proposal would end the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA. "The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would," the New York Times reported. "And the NSA could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order."

Speaking at the Hague on Tuesday, Obama said the change "allows us to do what is necessary in order to deal with the dangers of a terrorist threat but does so in a way that addresses some of the concerns that people have raised."

Paul's lawsuit would also require the NSA to get judicial permission to target specific records. "I'm not against going to an individual who we suspect, with a warrant, and getting their phone records, and then if they called 100 people, I'm not against looking at those people," he told reporters during a February press conference.

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