Senator Rand Paul Speaks at Berkeley Forum

Senator Rand Paul Speaks at Berkeley Forum

– Good afternoon, and welcome to this session of The Berkeley Forum. We are delighted to be
organizing this event in collaboration with the
Berkeley College Republicans. The Berkeley Forum is a non-partisan, student-run organization
that organizes debates, panels, and talks on
the UC Berkeley campus. We are honored to have
one of the leading critics of government surveillance
and personal privacy at Berkeley to share his views. Ladies and gentlemen, please
welcome Senator Rand Paul. (audience applauding) – Thank you. Great to be here at Berkeley, thank you. Thank you to The Berkeley
Forum for inviting me. Now you may be a Republican, or a Democrat, or a Libertarian. I’m not here to tell you what to be. I am here to tell you
though, that your rights, especially your right to
privacy, is under assault. I’m here to tell you that
if you own a cellphone, you’re under surveillance. I’m here to tell you that the NSA believes that equal protection means that Americans should be spied upon
equally, including Congress. Instead of equal protection
to them, it’s equal disdain. They don’t care if you’re
white or black or brown. They care only that everyone
must submit to the state. Senator Sanders and I
don’t agree on everything, he’s an Independent from Vermont, but he asked, he asked the NSA, he says, “Are you collecting records on Congress?” And in characteristic arrogance,
you know what the NSA said? They said, “Congress is getting “the same treatment everybody else is.” In other words yes, yes, and again, yes. They’re spying on Congress. They’re collecting our data as well. Digest exactly what that means. If Congress is spied upon
without their permission, who exactly is in charge
of your government? Last week we learned something new. Your senator’s in the middle of this. We learned that the CIA
is illegally searching the computers of the Senate
Intelligence Committee. They’re the ones supposed
to be overseeing the CIA. I don’t know about you,
but that worries me. If the CIA is spying on Congress, who exactly can or will stop them? I look into the eyes of senators, and I think I see real fear. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think I perceive fear
of an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant, and uninclined to relinquish power. I’m honestly worried and concerned about who is truly in
charge of our government. Now most of you have read
the dystopian nightmares, the dystopian novels,
and maybe you’re like me, you say ah, you know, that
could never happen in America, and yet if you have a cellphone,
you are under surveillance. Last week, a new revelation came out. The NSA uses an automated
system called Turbine. They’ve hacked into millions of computers. The NSA has even posed as
a fake Facebook server. You may have seen Zuckerberg complaining to the president about
this, to infect computers. If you have a computer, you
may well be under surveillance. Who knows, they won’t tell ya. Your government collects information from every one of your phone calls. That’s what they’re maintaining. Remember the warrant
that Snowden revealed? Every phone call from
Verizon was on the list. Your government stores your email so it can access it without a warrant. Your government claims the right to look at your every purchase online. Your government actually
claims that none of your digital records are protected
by the Fourth Amendment. Listen very carefully to that. They say they’ll protect
them, but they say none of your records are
protected by the Fourth Amendment. This is something we’re
gonna fight in court. If you own a cellphone,
you are under surveillance. I believe what you do on your cellphone is none of their damn business. (audience applauding)
(audience cheering) In the opening pages of Fahrenheit 451, the protagonist, Guy Montag, asks, “Wasn’t there a time when
firemen used to put out fires?” They laugh and rebuke him and say, “Everybody knows that
firemen start fires.” Montag knows this, his father and grandfather had been firemen. It had been his duty for
many years to burn books. He knew it was his duty, but
this day would be different. Montag arrives on the scene to do his job, but he finds a woman who won’t leave. She stands on her porch as they pile the books about
her, but she won’t leave. Undeterred, Montag proceeds
with the other firemen to douse her and her books with kerosene. The woman shouts out and goads them, she’s indignant that they
would touch her books. She refuses to leave the porch. She says to them, “Play
the man, Master Ridley. “Today we will light such
a candle by God’s grace “in England, that it
won’t be soon forgotten.” They keep dousing her with
kerosene, and she says it again. “Play the man, Master Ridley. “We will light such a candle.” In the book, the reference
is lost to the firemen, as they simply do their job. The reference is to the 16th
century figure Hugh Latimer, who literally became a human candle. He was burned at the
stake in 1555 for heresy. His crime, he wanted to
promote the idea that the Bible could be translated into
English, which the state forbade. In the US today, we’re not yet
burning people at the stake, nor are we burning books, yet. But your government is interested
in what you’re reading. They’re interested in what
you say on your phone calls. They’re interested in what
you write in your emails. Or even if they say
they’re not interested, they say the Fourth
Amendment doesn’t protect any of these records. The NSA is collecting the
records of every American. A year before Snowden’s revelations, before Snowden had his leaks, I had heard that this was happening. I had talked with Ron Wyden, I had seen some of the releases, and I had heard that they were collecting an unprecedented amount of
records, but I wasn’t allowed to reveal the number because
they say it’s a secret. Why the number’s a secret, I don’t know. So I announced that a gazillion
records were being collected because I knew that was a
fake number, and couldn’t get, they can’t put me in jail
for making up a number, but I wanted to emphasize by
using this fictitious number, a gazillion, I wanted the American public to know that the actual
number of communications being collected by the Federal Government was almost beyond comprehension. Senator Wyden, of Oregon, has been trying to shed some light on this
invasion of our privacy. It’s an example of how
someone from the left and someone from the right come together for something that’s good, for the protection of your privacy. He’s on the Intelligence Committee, and he’s privy to information that very few congressmen
or senators have access to. For over a year before
Snowden’s revelations, Wyden expressed concern
that the government was acting outside the law, but he was constrained
by the secrecy laws. Finally, a few months
before Snowden’s leaks, Wyden called the office of
the intelligence director, James Clapper, and he
says, “I’m going to ask you “in open committee, are you collecting “millions of Americans’
records without a warrant?” Despite this warning, Clapper
comes to Congress and lies. This is a felony,
punishable up to five years, but you hear nobody talking about it. When this secret surveillance of Americans finally became public though, no one on the Intelligence
Committee was even contrite. Their only regret was that the
program was no longer secret. In an almost surreal exchange, a congressman asked the NSA, “Did you think a program of this magnitude “could be kept secret
from the American people?” The NSA official replied,
with a slight smile, “Well we tried.” The sheer arrogance of this. They are only sorry that they got caught. Without the Snowden leaks, these spies would still be blithely
doing whatever they pleased. Some say it’s only
records held anonymously, only rarely accessed, what’s your beef? Well what they rarely mention is that they don’t believe
any of your records have any Fourth Amendment protection. When they say, oh it’s only
boring old business records. Think of what information
is on your Visa bill. From your bill, 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. There was a recent study
by two Stanford graduates, we allowed to mention Stanford here? (audience laughing) By two Stanford graduates, look it up, in the last week or two it was released, showing exactly what can be figured out simply from your boring old phone records. I oppose this abuse of power with every ounce of energy I have. I believe that you have
a right to privacy, and it should be protected.
(audience cheering) I believe no government should
ever access your records without a judge’s warrant. I believe that the majority
of Americans agree with me, whether they’re Republicans,
Democrats, Independents. I think most people are
offended by this program. Now Edward Snowden, the leaker
of classified information, did break the law, but
so did James Clapper. I don’t think there’s been
enough criticism of Clapper. James Clapper proposed that
it was okay to lie to Congress and the American people
in the name of security. Snowden proposed that it was okay to leak classified information
in the name of liberty. There are laws against both of
these, both leaking and lying yet history sometimes accepts
one or both as laudable. If a government official leaks to expose government malfeasance, we sometimes call it whistle blowing. If an enemy asks for secret information, we would expect our
intelligence director to lie, but no matter who is
testifying to Congress, lying to Congress is still a crime. Lying to Congress also
damages credibility. When the intelligence director lies, it makes it harder for us to believe him when he comes and tells us,
“Oh yeah, we’re collecting “all your information, but we
promise we won’t look at it.” You know, so it’s harder
and harder to believe them when they don’t tell the
truth when they testify. They also come to us and they say, “Well terrorists can’t be apprehended “in a fashion consistent
with the Bill of Rights.” Well, under cross-examination, that turns out not to be true. Who knows what to believe anymore? Even if no abuse of phone
records has occurred so far, we must limit government power to prevent abuse in the future. The intelligence director maintains he lied in the open hearing because it was open to the public and the
information was classified. He tells us that he testified
in the least untruthful way. Anybody accept that, the
least untruthful way. As Americans, we don’t deserve
the least untruthful way from the people we pay
for, who work for us. We have a right to the
truth, we deserve the truth, and we demand the truth
from our officials. (audience applauding) Are the people that aren’t clapping, are y’all from the intelligence community? (audience laughing) I’m asked repeatedly, is
Snowden a hero or a villain? Now there’s no–
(audience grumbling) (chuckles)
(audience applauding) I’m sort of of mixed minds, I know some of you have decided this, but there’s no doubt that
his legacy will be clouded you know, by his perch in Russia. No great repository of civil liberties. I agree with critics that
say you can’t let everybody just decide when to leak
classified information. Snowden will in all likelihood face punishment if he returns,
but I don’t agree with those who argue that he should
be hanged or shot on sight. Snowden’s leaks should
not be seen, they say, “Oh, it shouldn’t be seen
as civil disobedience “because he didn’t stick
around for punishment.” Now one can argue degrees of bravery, or whether you would stick around or not. Thoreau faced a day in jail, and he was considered to
be a civil disobedient. Martin Luther King faced 33 days in jail, he was a civil disobedient, but Snowden faces either
death or life in prison. I don’t believe to be, to commit civil disobedience,
that it requires martyrdom. History will decide is he a hero, who is hero and who is villain. Clapper lied in the name of security. Snowden told the truth
in the name of privacy. The debate over the leaker though, shouldn’t be caught up
just in personalities. It shouldn’t make us lose
track of the real issue. How does the Fourth Amendment
apply in the digital age? To me, this is a profound
constitutional question. Can a single warrant be applied
to millions of Americans’ phone records, emails,
credit card statements? When you sign a privacy agreement with your phone company or
with your internet provider, don’t you retain a privacy
interest in those records? The Fourth Amendment is very clear. Warrants must be issued by a judge. Warrants must be specific
to the individual, must have your name on it
if they want your records, and a single warrant for
millions of Americans’ phone records hardly sounds
specific to the individual. Warrants are supposed to be based on evidence, of probable cause. I’m not up here arguing
against people searching you. If the judge says they have probable cause that you committed a
crime, I’m fine with that. I’m not against the NSA per
se, but I am for the process, the due process of law
to protect your rights. Generalized warrants that
don’t name an individual and seek to get millions of records, it goes against the very
fabric of the Fourth Amendment. Some say that James Otis, his protests against generalized warrants
at the time of our revolution, was really the spark
that got things going. I find it ironic that the first
African-American president has without compunction,
allowed this vast exercise of raw power by the NSA. Certainly, J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal spying on Martin
Luther King and others in the Civil Rights Movement
should give us all pause. Now if President Obama were here, he would say he’s not J. Edgar Hoover, which is certainly true, but power must be restrained
because no one knows who will next hold that power. As Madison put it, if
government were always comprised of angels, we wouldn’t need
restraint, but as we all know, government is often not
comprised of angels. The president claims,
“Well the NSA program, “it’s been approved by 15 judges.” Well yeah right, 15 judges,
most of them ruling in secret, where nobody had a lawyer on
both sides of the equation. The FISA Court is a court where the defendant gets no attorney. The debate is shrouded in secrecy. In the FISA Court, the NSA
can say whatever they want and they are not cross-examined. A secret court is not a real court. We must take a stand and
demand an end to secret courts. (audience applauding) This battle for your rights must take place in the light of day. As we speak, my attorneys are battling for a hearing in open
court in Washington, DC. We have a lawsuit to try to
prevent this from happening and to get a decision
from the Supreme Court. Only the Supreme Court
can legitimately decide if government can access
all your phone records with a single warrant without suspicion. Now everyone in this
room owns a cellphone. So I’m not fighting for just me, or for just one political party. I would do the same whether it were a Republican president
or a Democrat president. This is an important issue that
goes beyond party politics. I say what you read or
what you send in your email or your text messages, is
none of their damn business. (audience cheering) Now they say they’re not
listening to your phone calls. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not, but last week we found out that the CIA illegally searched Senate computers. Dianne Feinstein, she’s in
charge of the committee, she gave a big speech on the Senate floor saying they’re illegally
taking our work product, they’re looking at our computers, and they have now taken
stuff off the computers that we thought could
have been information for the American people. I’m gonna fight them on this. I told her and complimented
her, she’s from another party. I went up to her immediately and said, “Great speech, everybody’s
talking about it.” Because I don’t see this
as a partisan issue. I hope she will stand up, not
let the CIA push her around, not let the NSA push her around. I’m gonna fight them on this. No one, no one should be
allowed to invade your privacy. That’s why I’m announcing today that when I return to Washington, I will push for a select
committee, styled after the church committee that
investigated the abuses of power by the intelligence community in the 70s. It should be bi-partisan, it should be independent
and wide-reaching. It should have full power
to investigate and reform those who spy on us in
the name of protecting us. It should watch the watchers. Our liberties are slipping away from us. When Hugh Latimer said, “Let this be “an episode that will
not be soon forgotten.” He became a human candle
against tyranny and intolerance. Americans still have a
torch that’s burning, figuratively or otherwise,
in New York Harbor. We should never let that
flame of liberty go out. On occasion we’ve let our guard down, particularly in times of
war, in times of fear. We’ve succumbed, we have,
as Roger Waters put it, “Traded our heroes for ghosts, exchanged “a walk-on part in a war
for a lead role in a cage.” Or as Franklin put it, “Traded
our liberty for security.” I think we’ve been too lax
in guarding our privacy. Look at how we travel now. Look at the personal privacy
and dignity we’ve lost. When you slog through the airports, ask yourself who’s winning. Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman asked the question in a very visual way. He says, “The next time you
go through airport security, “the next time they tell you “to put your hands over your head “and hold that vulnerable
position for seven seconds. “No hun, just a little bit higher. “Ask yourself, is this the
posture of a free man?” The question before us is
will we live as men and women, will we cower, and will
we give up on our liberty? I for one will fight on, because I believe that your
rights are inalienable, inseparable, inextinguishable, and I hope everyone,
everyone with a cellphone, every American will
fight for your privacy, and for the right of every
American to be left alone. I hope you will stand with me
and take a stand for liberty. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) Thank you, thank you. – Conservative activist
Larry Klayman and the ACLU have also filed similar
lawsuits against the NSA, and both resulted in either
failure or a stayed ruling. What makes you think that
you’ll have any more success than these groups that
have tried before you? – I am supportive of
all the other lawsuits, so it isn’t exclusive
that mine is the best, but it is slightly different. The ACLU lawsuit was ruled against. The judge either threw it out or said that the program
was constitutional. The Klayman suit is in the same
court that mine will go to, and the judges previously
ruled it unconstitutional, stayed the ruling, and I
think it will be appealed. So I think the Klayman
suit is still active. Ours is going to the same court ’cause it has a similar subject. Our case is slightly
different, and we think, for some legal reasons,
that it may have a chance of going all the way to the Supreme Court. To me it’s not so much
that my case has to go, but I think a case needs
to go to the Supreme Court, because currently many people believe that the Fourth Amendment
doesn’t apply at all. They think that the
reason why you can give a single warrant to Verizon is that you don’t own those records. I think they’re jointly held. I think if you sign a privacy agreement, Verizon agrees not to tell your
neighbor who you’re calling, so they kind of acknowledge that. I think it’s acknowledging that you still have an interest in those records. But to me the most important thing is, and there’s at least,
we think, four or five Supreme Court justices that have indicated that in this digital age, think about it, it’s a lot different than 1975,
that’s when the last case, Smith versus Maryland was
held on records, and it’s also different, that was
about one suspect’s phone tap. We’re now talking about 300
million Americans’ phones. So I think it’s a big deal, and it is different than
what we’ve ever had before, so I’m hoping that we will get all the way to the Supreme Court. – [Interviewer] So earlier you condemned Director of National
Intelligence James Clapper for allegedly lying in front of Congress. You said he’s very
explicitly broken the law. Does that mean that you think
he should be sent to prison? – I think he should be. Well, you don’t get sent to
prison until you’re found guilty so we should have a trial,
he deserves a trial. But the interesting thing is,
I’m not an outlier on this in the sense that I think seven members of the Intelligence Committee
or Judiciary Committee in the House, have signed a
letter saying the same thing, and I think it hurts us because we do have to rely on
some things being secret, and it’s an extraordinary power. It’s in a power to capture people, incarcerate people, it’s
even a power to kill people. So that power has to be overseen and they have to be honest with us. If the people in charge of
the intelligence community are not being honest to Congress and they’re actually spying on Congress, I have grave doubts about
everything they’re telling me. So yeah, I think it is important, and one of the reasons
I bring it up is that many of these people, they want
to throw the book at Snowden and I have mixed feelings
what should happen, because I can’t, I think
you can’t release secrets all the time, I mean
that would lead to chaos, but at the same time I think he also wanted to reveal something he
thought was unconstitutional. But for all the people
that want to throw the book and the letter of the law at Snowden, I like the contrast, they
don’t want to do a thing, not a peep out of them for Clapper. So you’re not really being consistent. If you want to throw the book at Snowden, but you don’t want to
do a thing to Clapper. They both broke the law technically, and then you have to
decide what justice is. But yeah, I think Clapper
should be tried for perjury. (audience applauding) – So you say you’re
asked this all the time, but we want to get it in here too. Would you classify Edward Snowden as on the one hand a hero, or a traitor? And to phrase that slightly differently, maybe if there were another
Edward Snowden out there, would you encourage him to speak up? – You know, I think the ultimate decision of hero or villain,
history’s gonna sort out, and I think there are pros
and cons to a lot of it, and I know people have a
strong feeling about it. I think that his intentions were good, but here’s the problem. Let’s say we have 400, 500 people here, and let’s say you all are, you know, we’re talking to you and
you’re the new recruits for the CIA or for the
intelligence for our army. Should I tell all 500 of you,
just decide when you think it’s unconstitutional and
just reveal secrets anytime. You could see how it could lead to chaos, but at the same time, I’m very upset about what our intelligence
community’s doing, and we might not have ever known about it had Snowden not leaked it. Some say Snowden should have tried to become a whistleblower. I don’t know if he did try,
or what the process is, but I think on the one hand
you have chaos, you know. Bradley Manning released 24 million pages. There’s a chance that
people could die from that. There’s a chance that
intelligence could get out there that could endanger our agents. And I’m not against
spying, I mean we will have people gathering intelligence
around the world, and I don’t think that we can allow willy-nilly indiscriminate
release of documents, but at the same time I’m
sympathetic to what was released, because I think it’s a real problem. So I have mixed feelings,
is the bottom line. – So you posed a very interesting question during your address. You asked about potential CIA
spying on Senate computers. To quote you, “If the CIA
is spying on Congress, “who exactly can or will stop them?” So what would be your
answer to this question? – Well see, here’s the interesting thing, and this is worth everybody reading about. The way I understand it, and
this is what Senator Feinstein said in her speech, they
came across something, they were given access to
the CIA computers by the CIA. The search engine was created by the CIA. They say, and I’m just going
from what they’re telling me, they say they found a report
called the Panetta Review, which looked into some
previous activities of the CIA, interrogation and detention, and they got it through the search engine. If that’s true, the
CIA then may have said, oh whoops, well we didn’t
want you to read that. But think about that, if it
was a mistake by the CIA, you can say well that was a mistake, but why should the CIA
be allowed to withhold an internal review from the
people overseeing the CIA? So that to me is the arrogance that they think they’re in
charge, and it’s too important to let members of Congress know about. Well if your members of
Congress don’t know about it, the people you have some interaction with and can get rid of or elect,
then who is in charge? You can’t have people who are not elected in charge of your government,
and that is really, I think, the very definition of tyranny. So this to me is a very important thing, and also want to make the point that I’m not saying that any of these
people are necessarily evil or that they have bad motives, I think a lot of them
have good intentions, and maybe they’re not even
abusing their power at all. The danger though, is
allowing that much power to go unchecked and not
have review by Congress. – So we obviously don’t have
all the information yet, it’s a recent scandal, but if
these allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers
do prove to be true, then who do you think
should be held responsible? Would it be just CIA Director
John Brennan, or perhaps some official higher up
in the Federal Government? – Yeah, that’s a good question, I’m not sure I know the answer. Brennan was approved
about a year or two ago, that’s when I was, I actually did the filibuster, was to his nomination. So whether or not it’s Brennan
or someone precedes him, but Brennan oversees it now, and he’s defending the program
and saying it didn’t happen, but here’s the more direct question, there’s some media
here, y’all need to ask, is ask Brennan, what
about the Panetta Review. Why should Congress not be allowed to read the Panetta Review of the
CIA interrogation program? I mean, if I’m not allowed to look at it, and this is something
you also need to realize, many of this, much of
this that goes on in the intelligence committee, I’m
not allowed to read, okay. The intelligence committee’s allowed to read things
I’m not allowed to read, and then the head of the
intelligence committee’s allowed to read some things that the rest of the
intelligence committee isn’t. Some of the revelations
that have come forward have come forward, and the
day before they came forward, the CIA calls up Senator
Feinstein and says, “Oh by the way, we’ve
been collecting email “for the last 10 years, it’s
gonna be revealed tomorrow.” You know, so we’re really not
in the loop on this stuff, and we’re not overseeing it. They’re doing what they want,
and then when they get caught, they inform us, but that’s not oversight and that’s not
representative of government. This is incredibly important, not just because of abuse
that may be occurring, but because of abuse that could happen if someone took the reigns of power and really wanted to use
this for malevolent purposes. – Alright, so we have time for just one more question
for this interview. This is on sort of a different topic. There has been pretty
extensive media coverage of your recent visits to places that don’t usually vote Republican, like students at Howard University. – [Rand] You mean like Berkeley? – And at UC Berkeley. (audience laughing)
(audience applauding) There has been quite a lot of speculation that these efforts constitute
an attempt on your part to broaden your personal appeal in anticipation of a
2016 presidential run. How do you reply to these claims? (audience applauding) – Maybe.
(audience laughing) Part of it might be that. Part of it might be that
the Republican Party is, I’ve said they have to either evolve, adapt, or die, you know,
it’s a pretty harsh thing. I think I was telling
somebody the other day, remember Domino’s finally
admitted they had bad crust? (audience laughing) I think, Republican Party admit it, okay. Bad crust, we need a
different kind of party, but I think some of–
(audience cheering) One of the the things that really upset me in the last couple years was
that we passed legislation, really done by Republicans
and Democrats, frankly, that allows an American citizen to be indefinitely detained without a trial, and I had a conversation
with another senator, and I said, does this
mean an American citizen can be accused of a time
and sent to Guantanamo Bay with no trial, no lawyer? He said, “Yeah if they’re dangerous.” I said, well it kind of begs
the question, doesn’t it? Who gets to decide whether
you’re dangerous or not? The reason why I think this is important is many sort of Libertarians, Libertarian-leaning Republicans, people who believe in individual rights, this really bothers us, but I think it’s a bigger audience than
that, because think about it. If you’re African-American,
Japanese-American, Jewish-American, Hispanic. Have there ever been times when the government
didn’t treat you fairly? Have there ever been times
when you said you know what, the war on drugs has had a racial outcome. Three out of four people in
prison are brown or black, so something’s going wrong. Maybe a candidate who
would stand up and say everybody deserves their day in court. The law should not have a racial outcome. Maybe then people would
say, “You know what, “I always hated those Republicans,
and their crust sucks, “but maybe there’s some new Republicans, “maybe they’ll be a new GOP, we’ll see.” (audience cheering)
Thank you. Thank you. – So we also have some
questions from the audience. – Oh God, I thought I was done. (laughs)
(audience laughing) We passed out note cards before, and you guys have
submitted some questions. So I was going to read a
few of them to the senator. This actually relates to your last point. Do you think the issues of
privacy and civil liberties could be used to bridge the
partisan divide in Congress? – You know yes, and I think there’s also, there’s a right-left nexus on this. One of the persons I work most
closely with in Washington on NSA, spying abuse, more
oversight needed, is Ron Wyden. Now he and I don’t agree on
some economic liberty issues, you know, he’s not so much for lower taxes or less regulations, but on this we’re almost in 100% agreement on some of these intelligence issues. I think it’s a way you could
actually get things done. That compromise isn’t always
splitting the difference, but compromise means,
meaning that your party label isn’t as important as the issue is. So to me, I honestly would tell you whether this was a Republican
or a Democrat president, I would give exactly the same speech, and I think Ron Wyden would, too. I think he’s an honest progressive. In fact, I ribbed some
of the others by saying, whatever happened to the good
Liberals around here, alright. You know, because you can be, I think, even someone who isn’t a progressive, be progressives who are honestly good, or I think very good on civil liberties. In fact, the president was. When he was a senator,
President Obama was much better on civil liberties than he is now. – Next question from the audience. (audience laughing) If elected president,
how would you respond to the recent increase of executive power? – I think one of the biggest
problems in the last 100 years, not Republican, not
Democrat, but last 100 years, has been the increase in
power of the executive. We have thousands of orders
written by the executive. Montesquieu wrote and
said, you know he was big on the separation of powers
and the checks and balances, he said, “When the executive
begins to legislate, “that becomes a form of tyranny.” The check and balances that the executive, the president’s not allowed to legislate, only a legislature can,
but it’s a messy process and you got, everybody’s got to just come to grips with that. It’s a messy process, it’s not easy, but that’s why you have to convince people on the other side that they
ought to vote for your stuff, and it is also why we have so much contention over
the healthcare plan. Not one Republican voted for it. Had there been some
Republicans voting for it, or had the Democrats come
a little bit to our side to have a discussion, I don’t think we’d be having this big war
in our country right now. So really, I think, the
way I look at issues is, we don’t have to agree on everything. We are probably a mixture
of people from parties and all different walks of life here, and let’s say we take 10 issues, we’re not gonna agree on all 10. You know, we might agree
on three out of 10. Why don’t we work on the three
out of 10 issues we agree on, rather than spend our whole time fighting on the seven out of 10? (audience applauding) – Next question from the audience. You have voiced support
for a flat tax system. Are you concerned about
the potential increase in inequality resulting
from such a system? – Well one of the interesting things is, some of the wealthy pay no taxes. Some of the corporations,
wealthy corporations, pay no taxes under the current system. Another interesting fact, over the last five years
income equality’s gotten worse, even though we raised tax rates. So it is something you have
to kind of think through as far as how you want to make it better. I’m of the opinion that the
way you stimulate the economy and the way you create jobs is by leaving more money in the economy. Now you may say that sounds incredibly simplistic, but it’s true. The private economy creates jobs. We have to have a certain
amount of government, but we should minimize
the size of government because it’s not very good at stuff. Wise, (chuckles). I’ll often say–
(audience applauding) I’ll often say it’s not that government is inherently
stupid, although it’s a debatable point.
(audience laughing) It’s that they don’t get the same signals. So for example, we need to
have a national defense, and it can’t be done privately. Same with the judiciary
and the legislative branch, and roads, and education,
and things like this, where the government will be involved, and so I think you can argue
that that should occur, but we should keep it and not expand it to all walks of life. Does the government need to sell pizza? You know, does the government
need to deliver the mail? That’s really a problem, they probably shouldn’t
be delivering the mail, they’re not very good at that either. (audience laughing) We should minimize what government does, and try to maximize the private sector, and that’s, I think,
where jobs are created. But to me though, it’s
getting beyond the hurdle. I can go to a poor community in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, and I’ll say bring me the 10
richest people in your town, ’cause I would like to reduce their taxes, and you may be horrified and say, oh he cares only about rich people. No, we all work for rich people. So I want the people who own the business, the guy who owns the business
in Middlesboro, Kentucky, who employs 100 people, is probably the richest guy in town. How am I gonna get him to hire,
or her, to hire 110 people? Reduce their taxes. So we got to get over this class warfare that rich people are bad people. The top 1% pay 40% of the income tax. There are some exceptions to the rule, and we should fix the exceptions,
meaning that if there’s some in the top 1% that aren’t
paying taxes, they should. In some ways a flat tax
accumulates more of those people and you lose less of those people by having less deductions, and having a flatter, simpler code. But I’m also for reducing
everyone’s taxes, not just the middle-class,
everyone’s taxes. (audience applauding) – This is going to be
your very last question. We are here at the number one public university in the world. Something we tell ourselves a lot. (audience cheering) – [Rand] You’re not at all biased, right? – Of course not, of course not. This relates to that. Do you believe the Federal
Government should play a role in supporting higher
education, if so, describe. – I believe in general, that the more local control of education, the better. So you really are not at the Federal University of
California at Berkeley, you’re at the University, Berkeley at, University of California at Berkeley. You are a state school, and so education has primarily
been at the state level. There is some federal influence through Pell grants and things like that, I’ve decided to leave those alone when I’ve created budgets
that cut a lot of money, because I think a lot of
people are dependent on them. I also think we have to
figure a way forward. The biggest problem really isn’t right now getting an education. We’ve got plenty of grants,
people are getting into school, that’s not the problem. The problem you need to think through is not getting a grant
and getting into school, it’s getting a job when
you get out of school and how you’re gonna pay your loans back. What’s happening is the loans are so big and the income’s not as large, that a lot of people are getting out and making something that’s inadequate. I think one of the ways that
we could fix and help students is to maybe give tax credits
to students as they get out. Not forgive your loans, but
let you reduce your taxes, because most people will be working. Let you reduce your tax burden some as a way to pay off your student loans. Thanks everybody. (audience applauding)

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “Senator Rand Paul Speaks at Berkeley Forum



  3. Senator Paul is trying to put together a coalition of liberty minded rightest and leftest. I hope he is successful.

  4. While its good that the left is starting to get the picture, its proves that they are STILL dis honest about their claim to care about freedom, rights, and respecting other's differences. They only care about this because it's affecting THEM personally. When they thought Obama was only going after the Tea Party, Fox News, and other members of the right- They applauded !!!

  5. Rand Paul sold himself to the anti-Christ just like all other "candidates" before him. Google any politician's name & wailing wall or AIPAC and see who they bow down and answer to. It's certainly not Americans.

  6. All sounds good, and just as hopeful as obummer when his initial assault was under way.  I'm sure intention's are noble, however talk is cheap.. when you assume the role of head puppet. History proves the strings are being pulled and every one conforms. Prove to us that Once again the will of the people is a profitable investment. Its a shame that its going to be business as usual Mr. Paul and your well aware of it.

  7. The rich are getting richer every day but they are not creating good jobs. So Rand Paul's answer to the lack of jobs, to make the rich ever richer, doesn't make any sense. I think he is wedded to his dogma so much he can't see the big picture that is facing the world today.  

  8. I would think that right to privacy would be something we could all agree on…But for some reason people think that by giving the government more power to monitor us will end with more security for all with no repercussions. But as history has proved, is that government should never be trusted, and I hope Rand follows through on this right of privacy policy.

  9. id take anyone over obama,he is slowly destroying america,and were all going to pay for it,long after hes gone,him and his fare left crazy nut jobs,

  10. His analogy of "say 400 of you were all the new recruits for the CIA. Should I tell you to just release secrets when you feel it's right". The one problem with that is that those 400 CIA agents take an oath to overall uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. To keep a secret of the government going against the Constitution would be going against that oath. 

  11. The left is too dominated by social authoritarians for Rand Paul to do much in the short term but hopefully he can help pave the way.
    Now leftists will take to Twitter and demand that certain words Rand Paul says must be #banned… That he is too be censored from future speeches at Rutgers… MSNBC will campaign to censor and shame him and all that listens too him by stating racism and sexism… The White House will perform executive orders and spying on Rand Paul for having a different view….

  12. united nations runs america…Creditable is the ovomit admin to call itself american!''THe  worlds biggest gang is raping your future and will take all your hard earned prosperity. I say shake the leeches off my back,,,americas best  will soon turn the tides. Talk is cheap when one uses it to lie…bullets dont lie

  13. The sad part of this, it seemed most of the audience was just playing politics and didn't applaud because they're left wingers and don't care about what is right or wrong. 


  15. And yet through surveillance we caught a Senator in San Francisco gun running…

    It's all about balance. There are benefits of surveillance, so allow it and work more on making government more transparent. We need a president that can facilitate not only a sense but direct autonomy of it's government. Nothing more or less than that.

    So let the people decide.

  16. I like a lot of what Paul says, but he and others keep making this fundamental "trickle-down" error that reducing rich employers' taxes will cause them to hire more.

    This makes NO SENSE. You only get taxed on PROFIT. If hiring an additional worker will make you more profit without taxes, it will still make you more profit with taxes (just not as much more), so you'll still do it!

  17. For those naive Berkeley students enthralled with Rand Paul — because he said things like keep government from monitoring cell phones — ask him if government has the authority (moral or legal) to order a transvaginal ultrasound for women seeking abortions.  Then ask if there is anything more invasive than that vaginal probe.

    Then ask if he still clings to the Libertarian notion that government cannot order private businesses to serve all races — as he said on Maddow's show.  Warning: it's on tape.

    Then ask why it took so long to fire his neo-Confederate staffer code named "Southern Avenger" — a man who supports John Wilkes Booth.

    Then ask why he is a serial plagiarizer.

    My point: If these Berkeley students are swayed on an issue or two — without seeing the bigger picture behind Libertarianism — they are not as smart as they may think

  18. Rand Paul needs to win in 2016!  Americans should not be treated like terrorists and WE should not stand for it!

  19. I think you work on one of the Obama web sites……"good luck" on your misdirected efforts…

    Don't think you can do a lot more disinformation during this campaign. Ron

  20. I agree with a few things that Rand Paul says, but Rand Paul is still WAY TO CONSERVATIVE for me! WE NEED A TRUE PROGRESSIVE IN DC!!!

  21. How dare this Douche recite Farenheit 451…he doesn't even understand the gist of the book. I have no respect for a politician using one of the greatest books ever written to forward his agenda of an America that resembles Brazil or Mexico. Fire men putting out fires is akin to Politicians working for the greater good of the people and not forwarding some agenda that ensures we live in a country where the rich take what they want and the working class live as peasants. He's one of those fire men that starts fires instead of putting them out. He's no Montag…

  22. did rand paul quit his job? that his daddy work so hard to get for him. you know small government but for my son lol. he is the government. this guy is so full of shit.

  23. Rand Paul tries to scare simple minded people with every ridiculous paranoid statement he makes…are we supposed to believe that he wouldn't put even more oppressive surveillance measures in place?…the Republican tactic of scaring their base into fearing the Democrats is a case of projection that could raise Freud from his grave to make observations—he would have loved it…at least the Republicans realize that the aims of their party cannot be honestly expressed because they are completely dishonest—to forward their interests they have to put bullshit machines like this guy in front of microphones and cameras… this dirty scumbag will be unemplyed after the midterm elections

  24. Sen. Paul is very well balanced on domestic and foreign politics. That is why he would be a more suitable presidential candidate than Sen. Cruz, who is very appealing domestically and seemingly respects the Constitution, but rather misleading, amateur, a warmonger when he speaks about foreign affairs and economics.
    Of course, Rand is not his honorable father Ron, but he has good heredity, and this counts for something.
    I will vote for Rand Paul for President.   

  25. Rand 2016 is a nice thought but the corporate government communist media will do their best to make sure he is not elected and demonized. This country is run by criminals. When people lose their homes and a loaf of bread is 3x the hourly min wage, then maybe they will look for real solutions and see through the lies.

  26. This is what kills me. If it is so obvious that the CIA is spying on Congress, then push to arrest members of the CIA that participated and everyone who gave orders. Stop screwing around. Order the capital police to make arrests and bring charges. Congressional networks are inside the capital grounds. Arrest James Clapper immediately.

  27. I can't believe they didn't clap at the last question. That was the nice speech clap, it wasn't the Holy cow he will give us a tax break to pay our student loans? Hooray Clap. So sad.

  28. ….   good speaker…  but falls short of my libertarian expectations…..  hey he's a nice guy Senator Paul….  but not the caliber of libertarian we need to get out of this bind….  he should …  well he could be doing so much more and saying so much more….  but he's too tight lipped for my taste…

  29. ….I get a kick out of congress beginning to circle there wagons……  they are up to something….  it  isn't liberty….  vote them ALL out in November…. don't trust any of them….

  30. …History will judge Snowden much sooner then people realize….  he's more than welcome to come home and resume his life in the United States…..  as far as the political class…. well ….  their political life is ticking down to zero…. people have had enough…..  they will be voted out soon enough….  one by one each November …. America will wake up….. 

  31. Why doesn't congress just round up those who work at the NSA and charge them with treason? For them to be collecting congresses data is no different than the Russians doing it. 

  32. When will the MORON plagiarist go away! All he does is blah, blaep, bleep! Very creepy and misleading. He will never be President. The closest he will ever get to the White House is either driving on the road in the front gate to Sunny Pastures or watching the WH on tv from the plane taking him to his final resting place, Russia. LMAO!

  33. This comment section is amazing. People just trolling left and right about an extremely important domestic issue. If you're cynical after reading some of these comments, don't feel ashamed. You should be.

  34. When the government gives money to someone. They have to take it from someone else. Americans have always been generous to people in desperate need. I would rather give to the people and organizations that I believe would benefit, than have the government tax me, and send money to places and people who do not further the human race as a whole. Less government, more oversight. Less taxes.

  35. Awesome…excellent speech. You just don't hear politicians talking like this…telling people they have rights and that the government is wrong. Go Rand Paul!!!!

  36. woop woop!!!! I like your father rand paul.  I hope you don't pull an OBAMA and do 180 degree turn when you get to office.

  37. I think this is one of the most important speeches I've ever heard. It's no wonder that the super-PAC trolls are all here in full force.

  38. The sad part about it is that this is exactly what Obama did when he won the election.  I voted for Obama in 2008 and fell for all of this "change" crap.  I think that Rand Paul, however, is a bit more genuine about his desires than the Kenyan usurper in the Oval Office right now.  He was born and raised here and has a father that I wish could have been president. 

    The sad reality is that I'm not sure exactly what Rand Paul can do, if anything, even if he did get into the White House.  He has a lot of opposition, even within his own party.  

  39. The NSA scares me. Its hard to tell whether they are doing all of this to prepare for Russia and Chinas massive Cyber capabilities, or whether the USA is turning into an authoritarian state like Orwell predicted……..or both?

  40. Mr. Paul makes some good points, but those points are just popular points. The issue I have with him is he thinks that Edward Snowden is a spy. I also saw him run from the host of "we are change". He runs like a coward. He had the Congress police chase after Avi Martin from Breaking the Set! He's a bum I suspect!

  41. Okay. Listened to all of it. He's an idiot. He thinks there is no problem with a 1%, because they give us jobs. No more Berkeley elite bullshit! He's also wearing a fucking Polo Ralph Lauren shirt. Fucking elite!!

    First time senator Ron Paul's son thinks he can get by with name recognition? Oh so we should trust him just because we trusted his racist dad? Who got like 1% of the vote with his outlandish goals of running the government off of what it takes to buy a starbucks coffee? Rand Paul has no valid stance on any issue and is only being used by the GOP until they find a worthy right-wing lunatic candidate to stand behind that's not buried in scandals.  He will soon learn, as Michael Steel did, as Marco Rubio did, and John Hunt did, hey as Ron Paul did that what he used to know as the Republican Party is now a party of rejects, racist, biggots, homophobes, and old white crazy men who want nothing to do with what this country has become.

  43. Watch carefully, and you will see the age old craft of politicians and how they will pander to a public required to vote them into office by appealing to as many of them as possible. Then, when they have power of that consensus, which has propelled them into office, all that pandering is over….all the promises, all the center-ism will be tossed out. Almost over night. 

    The herd will be confused, run constantly without mercy until any decision seems to be the right one.

    Then, when the dust settles, it will be business as usual. How many times people? When will we see thru it?

  44. Whats wrong with the government trying to make the country SAFER? Yes, the Gov spies on me, I DON'T CARE. They are just trying to prevent terrorism you idiots. 

  45. His economic views are very impractical. Yes the wealthy do create jobs but they aren't very good at it. That is why having a high tax rate on them is important. It allows the government to provide support where businesses will inevitably fail. Things like healthcare, welfare, education and security are too important to be operated by a business.
    I agree with Rand Paul on most issues but him being a fiscal conservative is where I have to draw the line. The government is an important institution and not something that we should be willing to let get destroyed by ideological naivety.

  46. Yes Rand Paul is piling it on a bit heavy but there is truth to what he is saying. I respect Paul because at least he is standing for something.

  47. For Americans who inspire me(You All Do) Something I wrote to make us
     think, laugh, maybe shed a tear, It's a funny as Hell on Earth type.. 
     terrible, pariable..That happened to me..Happy Earth (every) day 🙂             
                       "The Worst Two Party's I Ever Went To!"
    I received a flyer in the mail, an invitation for two separate Party's at the same Hotel, one Democrat and one Republican, I thought, that's weird? So I went anyway. Both Party's swore an oath to have "Free beer and viddles, Live music" An oath for a Party, I thought? ok? Still, I was like sweet! 'cause I was starving & thirsty as Hell! I get there, and the keg does not have a tap?!!wtf? hot dogs, no buns?!! chips we're stale! The melted ice cream, No damn Spoons!! Dance floor was stacked with chairs, and the Live band, was a monkey grinder!!..I could not believe it! At least the Monkey was real, and he looked sad, so I took him home.
     And what killed me, is no one else even noticed, or cared?!! Their eyes we're glassed over, and they would look right through you, freaked me out!
    I was trippin', that both Party's had the exact same problems, same type weirdo crowds, that talked about the exact same issue's just from slightly different angle's, the Big issue's I didn't hear a peep about? Come to find out, when I found the Party planners note book, they had the same party planner, same food service, same Beer supplier, same live band, which they could not find after the Gig? oh well? It was the Janitor who noticed, and He didn't even attend either Party. Last but Not least, they had the same Sponsor! And the kicker, it cost ten million dollars for each Party?!! That did it! I told both crowds what I found out, and showed them the paperwork. Both sets of kooky crowds did not know what the hell I was talking about?  WTF?? Called me crazy, trouble maker, subversive and started yelling out, conspiracy theorist, pointing and laughing! 
    I was in shock! I showed them the paperwork and Everything?
    I Swore an Oath, right then and there,
    I would Never Go to A Party, Ever Again!
    Unless it is thrown for All the People in mind and heart.
    They lied and cheated me out of everything they even Swore an Oath to uphold!
     I didn't even get a beer?! I couldn't eat the stale chips, everyone else thought they we're great 😛
    At least I have a happy new friend, and a live band now, 
    only have to throw 'em a couple of banana's a day 🙂

  48. Im done with 'conservative/ libertarians'  They should remove Obama immediately, but wont.  they play nice on the Tv shows. They should be calling the cultural Marxists out at every turn, but never do.

    The only thing that can save us is  1. Seal the border, deport all illegal aliens   2. arrest the top bankers, nationalize the banks, ban usury   CANCEL THE DEBT  3.  outlaw and arrest most of   special interest lobbyists , esp. the Jewish AIPAC   4. ste up a special cultural-social board/committee, to root out the filth that is rotting our youth, this will target Hollywood, etc. We need decent family oriented tv shows and entertainment again

    5. get back to the basic tried and true educational system our grand parents had.

    6.  Shred trade deals like NAFTA, stop the flow of factories out of the nation. Re-industrialize the nation with tax credits, zero interest loans, subsidized work training programs etc….Also end affirmative action.
     7. impose a fat tax on overweight people. get everyone in shape, right now, dammit. End the practice of placing bad foods next to the check out line.

    Until these measures are taken, we are lost. if a politician talks nice  and diplomatic, screw him.

  49. Wow, it seems like there's a lot of trolls on here, you guys can't really argue with libertarian philosophy, the way rand Paul thinks is much like our original founding fathers you guys are all fuck Tardes

  50. Good news for Paul and GOP Latest Colorado polls quinnipiac
    The latest General election polls
    -Rand Paul up 48 – 43 percent on Clinton
    -Chris Christie is dead even with her at 44%
    -Huckabee trails her by only 1%
    -Bush trails her by only 5%

  51. I like this man. It seems to me he answered every question honestly & methodically. I like the way he articulates his views and points. It would be refreshing to see this man be a candidate for 2016. I believe bringing both parties to work together in solving issues is more important now, than it has ever been in the history of America. 
    From the Dem's I would prefer to see a fresh candidate other than Mrs. Clinton for 2016. She has some bad "mojo" lingering……, for me anyways. 
    geo man…, I moved here from Canada 30 yrs ago because of my career. This country by far is the greatest nation on earth! Period! 

  52. Hm I like some of his views for sure, but I think the privatization of the economy will only cause a greater wealth gap than we are currently experiencing. Not only that but I'm wary about giving corporations more power to do what they want because of the robber barons in the late 1800s-1900s; I do not want the U.S. to be a plutocracy either. Plus the fact that I think most politicians if not all are more worried about self interest rather than the viewpoints of constituents. If I am coming off as ignorant and biased I apologize. Hopefully I can get a response to some of the questions I posed.

  53. agree with senator: it's none of their damn business…
    supreme court apparently agreed as well yesterday 9 to 0.

  54. speaking as a progressive/liberal, i would have a hard time deciding between rand paul and hilary clinton if it came down do that.

  55. Rand Paul becoming front runner according to NH, Iowa, and Colorado polls

  56. Senator Paul, if you can walk back the Economic Darwinism you might have a chance to get elected in November 2016. I agree with you on Civil Liberties, Human Rights, Military and Foreign Affairs in many ways. But the High Church if Ayn Rand is not going to sell to anyone not already in that cult.
    Ayn Rand died drawing a Social Security Check and on Medicare.

  57. I love this guy alot more than any other Senator and he's been doing surgery on people in Guatemala, which is awesome.  

  58. He is another buttboy for Israel and the Zionists. Zionists are very much involved in the transformation of America.

  59. Interesting… that was a checklist of Libertarian talking points.  I don't follow US politics much these days but Rand would be closer to my type of Pres than anything I've seen out of the Democrats recently.

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