IN A panel discussion at Harvard University on Saturday, Viet Dinh, who served as assistant attorney general in George W. Bush’s administration and was the chief architect of the USA Patriot Act, was asked whether it was true that Barack Obama’s national security policies were largely a continuation of Mr Bush’s. Yes, he replied, but not because of the choices Mr Obama or any other politician had made. The continuities existed because of a consensus in the law-enforcement, intelligence, and prosecutorial agencies regarding the tools they wanted in order to conduct the war on terror. “Even if Rand Paul becomes president, we won’t see a significant, seismic shift,” Mr Dinh said.
On Sunday night, Mr Paul did his best to put the lie to that claim by single-handedly forcing the expiration of parts of the Patriot Act. Mr Paul's filibuster will certainly burnish his credentials with libertarians. But the provisions of the act that have expired are limited. The most important of these regards the ability of the FBI or other agencies to collect and search bulk metadata on electronic communications without obtaining a warrant. Such...Continue reading