Washington — Sen. Rand Paul is recruiting plaintiffs – and seeking donations – for a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency.
"Dear Patriot," the Kentucky Republican wrote Thursday in an e-mail to supporters. "I'm looking for ten million Americans to stand with me and sue the federal government and TAKE BACK our rights.
"Can I count on your help?
"Without it, I truly fear where our fragile Republic could be headed …"
Paul, who is expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, told a Fox News interviewer this week that he would be asking Internet providers and telephone companies to join him in a lawsuit against the electronic eavesdropping agency based at Fort Meade.
His announcement follows revelations last week that the NSA was collecting "telephony metadata" – details of telephone communications, including numbers dialed and length of calls – and gathering information from Internet providers including Facebook, Yahoo!, Skype and YouTube.
The details were revealed by Edward Snowden, a contractor to the NSA who lived in Maryland and attended Anne Arundel Community College.
The Obama administration says the NSA programs were conducted under the law, with approval from a secret federal court and the full knowledge of Congress.
Paul, the son of former congressman and recurring presidential candidate Ron Paul, sent out his solicitation through his RandPAC USA political action committee.
In the e-mail, he links the NSA eavesdropping to a trio of controversies that have beset the administration: IRS scrutiny of tea party organizations, Justice Department monitoring of telephones used by AP and Fox News reporters and the deaths of U.S. diplomats and security personnel in Benghazi, Libya.
"I believe this is an absolutely critical and defining moment," he writes. "My hope is, it will be remembered for decades as the moment the American people stood up to their government and demanded our liberties be respected.
"But I fear, without your help, it could be the moment the American people quietly shrank from a fight and gave their last bit of approval over for government-run lives."