WASHINGTON, D.C. — It's "hogwash" and "bulls**t" that more surveillance could prevent future terrorist attacks, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) told a room full of college students during a campaign event Thursday.
While speaking at a Students for Rand rally at George Washington University on a rainy afternoon, Paul slammed government and intelligence officials who argue that more phone surveillance could have prevented the Paris terrorist attacks last week or prevent future attacks from occurring. Surveillance being a key issue for the libertarian-leaning senator and his supporters, Paul pointed out that the National Security Agency's collection of data hasn't actually stopped and therefore isn't helping thwart terrorist attacks.
"When they stand up on television and say, 'The tragedy in Paris means you have to give up your liberty, we need more phone surveillance,' bulls**t!" Paul said to applause from the audience. "The thing is, they are collecting your phone records as we speak. They didn't miss a beat. And even though we voted on reform, all of your phone records are being collected and stored in Utah. Did it stop the attack in Paris? Not one iota."
The Republican presidential contender noted that France's parliament had upped its surveillance following the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo writers in January, which he said didn't stop the Paris attacks.
"There's already a clamor," Paul also said. "You're seeing a clamor now, people saying, 'If we just had more surveillance, if we just gave up a little more liberty, we wouldn't have terrorists attack us.' You're seeing this everywhere."
"If there's a murderer or rapist in D.C. tonight, how do we catch them? With the Constitution," Paul said.
Students stand in as the background as Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) waits for a TV interview to begin following a Students For Rand rally at George Washington University Nov. 19 in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Dustin Linz, a 22-year-old University of Maryland, Baltimore County student, told TheBlaze that he supports Paul because "he's not a neo-con like the rest of the conservatives" and applauded Paul's proposed legislation that would prevent migrants from entering the U.S. from countries with a "significantly jihadist movement."
"He's going to target the real reasons why we have these security problems, instead of targeting innocent Americans who have no connection at all to any criminal activity," Linz, who traveled more than an hour to attend Thursday's event, said. "He's going to actually secure our borders and target the real terrorists and criminals through using the Fourth Amendment."
"I think for our own national security interests we have to keep these guys out of our country while most of them might not be affiliated with terrorist organizations, most likely some of them or a lot of them are, so I think instead of risking thousands of Americans' lives possibly, we should just keep them out to begin with," Linz said of the Syrian refugees.
Paul spoke for around 20 minutes before taking a few photos and signing students' leatherbound copies of the Constitution.
(Content warning: Strong language)