Sen. Rand Paul believes the U.S. Supreme Court should review the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance programs to determine if they are indeed constitutional as President Obama and the program’s advocates have asserted.
But Rep. Pete King, a top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said Paul is distorting the facts about the NSA phone and email surveillance program and urged Obama to aggressively defend it.
“It’s up to the president to come up and defend it,” King said on Fox News Sunday. “This is the president’s program. He should be out there addressing the nation on this.”
So far, Obama "has been relatively silent" about the programs, King, R-N.Y., said.
Paul called for the nation's highest court to review the entire NSA surveillance program. He said that without the massive leak about the program’s activities by rogue NSA contractor Edward Snowden, “we wouldn’t have known that [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper lied to the Senate and said we weren’t collecting any data.”
Paul cited reports fromo last week that aspects of the NSA surveillance routinely ran afoul of its own rules and regulations, violating Americans' Fourth Amendment rights. A single warrant for probable cause does not legally justify the NSA’s collection of "billions records,” Paul said.
King insisted, however, that no American's rights were violated by the program.
“Whatever mistakes were made were inadvertent,” King said, calling Paul's charges “a grab bag of misinformation and distortion" that creats a “smear and slander of good Patriotic Americans” at the NSA.
“He says there are a billion phone calls being collected and that is not even true,” King said.
The debate comes amid a new report that the NSA had committed thousands of privacy violations while monitoring Americans' phone and email records.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also appearing on Fox, called for the appointment of a special advocate who would counter NSA arguments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when it seeks warrants.
President Obama proposed the idea of a special advocate earlier this month.
“The problem is with the system,” Blumenthal said. “It’s a black box. The FISA court is a secret tribunal issuing secret opinions making secret law, and a lot of it is completely unavailable, even to the members of the Intelligence Committee.”