In this Fox News Sunday Show With Chris Wallace: Sen. Rand Paul on new NSA allegations; Rep. Peter King, Sen. Richard Blumenthal debate US response to chaos in Egypt
JOHN ROBERTS, GUEST HOST: I’m John Roberts, in for Chris Wallace.
New allegations rock the NSA.
ROBERTS: Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden detailed thousands of privacy violations by the agency after repeated denials from the White House.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs.
ROBERTS: We’ll discuss with the key member of the Homeland Security Committee and critic of the NSA, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Then, another week of chaos in Egypt as the interim government’s crack down on supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi leaves hundreds of people dead.
OBAMA: Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets.
ROBERTS: We’ll discuss the situation in the region and the U.S. response with Republican Congressman Pete King of New York and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
Plus, another delay for the president’s health care law forces the Obama administration to play defense.
HHS SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: This is no longer a political debate. This is what we call the law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president claims that this law is working the way it’s supposed to. But clearly, it’s not.
ROBERTS: We’ll ask our Sunday panel about the political fallout.
All right here on “Fox News Sunday.”
ROBERTS: And hello, again, from FOX News in Washington.
More tough questions for the NSA after “The Washington Post” reported this week that the agency violated privacy rules thousands of times since 2008. An internal audit obtained from leaker Edward Snowden reveals that the nation’s most secretive spy agency intercepted phone calls and e-mails of American citizens repeatedly during that time and in some case, did not report the unauthorized surveillance.
Now, some lawmakers are promising hearings.
Joining us with reaction is Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and author of “Government Bullies”. Senator, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.” Good to be with you this morning.
SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Good morning.
ROBERTS: It was just a little more than a week ago that the president insisted to the American people that there was appropriate oversight of the NSA surveillance program and that there was no talk of abuses.
Let’s play what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What you’re not reading about is the government actually abusing these programs and, you know, listening in on people’s phone calls or inappropriately reading people’s e-mails. What you are hearing about is the prospect that these could be abused.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Senator Paul, what do you make of that statement now that this new information has come to light?
PAUL: You know, I think that the president fundamentally misunderstands the constitutional separation of powers because the checks and balances are supposed to come from independent branches of government. So, he thinks that if he gets some lawyers together from the NSA and they do a PowerPoint presentation and tell him everything is OK, that the NSA can police themselves.
But one of the fundamental things that our Founders put in place was they wanted to separate police power from the judiciary power. So, they didn’t want police to write warrants — and the NSA are a type of police. They wanted a judiciary, an independent, open judiciary, responsive to the people with open debate in public.
So, I think the constitutionality of these programs need to be questioned and there needs to be a Supreme Court decision that looks at whether or not what they’re doing is constitutional or not.
ROBERTS: One of the most striking revelations at this disclosure is that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court does not have jurisdiction to pursue investigations in the compliance. Does that need to change?
PAUL: Well, there’s a couple of problems. One, they may not have jurisdiction, but, two, they are only hearing one side of this. So, if you were to go sit down in a room and the NSA tells you why they’re doing all these things correctly, you have no means of challenging that. You have no means of alternative information.
And without the Snowden leak, in fact, we wouldn’t know of this internal audit. Without the Snowden leak, we wouldn’t have known that James Clapper lied to us, lied to the Senate, and said, oh, that we were not collecting any data on Americans. And it turns, yes, they’re collecting billions of pieces of data on American cell phones every day.
ROBERTS: Now, according to this audit, a lot of these violations were apparently unintentional. But the NSA chose not to report some of these violations, as it has the responsibility to.
Does that need to change?
PAUL: Well, see, they chose not to report the program, period. They said they weren’t looking at American data or any phone calls and it turns out they are looking at billions of phone calls every day.
So, I think the whole program needs to be reviewed but it can’t be an internal audit. There is sort of a similarity between this scandal and all the other scandals. The president thinks that the IRS can police themselves as well and that they’ll do an internal audit. He thought the State Department could do an internal audit also.
But the thing is, is nobody ever was fired in the State Department. No one has been fired in the IRS.
The director of national intelligence lied to the Senate and I think greatly damaged the credibility of our American intelligence community. And nothing has happened, there are no repercussions other than he said, well, we had a PowerPoint presentation. We had some lawyers come together who work for the NSA.
The only way to find justice is you have to hear both sides. So, there really needs to be a discussion from people who are a little bit more skeptical of the NSA in an open court I think before the Supreme Court on this — on this program.
ROBERTS: So, when Congress comes back to Capitol Hill in a couple of weeks do you believe there needs to be congressional hearings into all of this?
PAUL: Yes. And I think legislation could help. The hard part is, is that we only hear one side also. The NSA comes and they tell us our side and tell us their side, tell us how they had foiled all these plots.
But it turns out when there is a discussion back and forth. We really discover that they did not use uniquely use this American program to get anyone. I think they got most of the terrorists or stop most of the terrorists if not all of the plots by good old fashioned police work, and getting warrants and getting wiretaps on people who they were suspicious of, whom they ask a judge about.
And I’m not against that. I’m all for surveillance of spies, I’m just not for this gross bulk gathering of data on all Americans.
ROBERTS: In fact, you are one of the most strident critics of the current NSA surveillance program. But with congressional hearings, with more congressional oversight into that program, with more duty to report compliance in other aspects of it, would you be comfortable with it to let it go ahead?
PAUL: You know, I think it would be better with more oversight but there are some things that they’re doing that I fundamentally think are unconstitutional.
Our Founding Fathers, when they wrote the Fourth Amendment, they said a single warrant goes towards a specific individual and what you want to look for. You ask a judge and you say John Smith we think is doing this. We have probable cause to think that he’s involved with a crime and you get a warrant.
The Constitution doesn’t allow for a single warrant to get a billion phone records. You know, they have a warrant that says, we want all of Verizon’s phone calls, all of AT&T’s phone calls, all of et cetera, et cetera, they basically I believe, probably, are looking at all the cell phone calls in America every day.
Also, I don’t think it’s good police work. I think we get overwhelmed with data, we have so much data that we don’t notice when Tsarnaev boy goes back to Chechnya, his name is misspelled and we don’t know that he’s going back. I think we need more people doing specific intelligence data on people who we have suspicion of rather than doing it on suspicion-less searches of all American phone calls.
ROBERTS: Let me switch gears and talk to you about ObamaCare because that is going to be a big topic of discussion when Congress comes back in a couple of weeks, you support the defunding of ObamaCare. But you have recently acknowledged that you don’t believe that it’s going to happen, it won’t get through the Senate. Your only lever then to defund ObamaCare maybe to not approve the continuing resolution or one that includes funding — that would shut down the government, which you have stated publicly you don’t think is a good idea.
So, what do you really have left here, Senator?
PAUL: Well, I don’t think shutting down the government is a good idea. But I do think we were elected — conservatives were elected — to try to stop this overreach, this government takeover of health care. It’s not going to be good for the American public. I think insurance premiums will rise. I think the people they want to help, precisely the working class and the poor who don’t have insurance I think still won’t have insurance and they’re going to have a penalty.
So, what I would say is people want us to stand up and fight. I’m willing to stand up and fight. We should use the leverage of controlling one third of the government. We don’t control all the government, but Republicans control the House of Representatives. They should stand up, use that power to at the very least make this law less bad, delay it, do something we can to protect the American public from this law.
Or if we do nothing, we’re just saying to the president, “Hey, you get your way.” But that’s not really what the government is about. When the government is divided, we should use the leverage of controlling at least part of government to try to get the law more to our liking.
ROBERTS: You’ve talked about trying to pass a bill to defund ObamaCare in the House. It wouldn’t pass the Senate. You’ve tried to come up with some sort of compromise in conference, it might delay implementation of the individual mandate, but there are plenty of bills that have gone to conference that have not worked out in the end. There is not compromise. And so, the laws enacted as it is.
Do you think that is going to happen in this case?
PAUL: You know, I don’t know. I think there is always a great desire not to shut the government down and to use that desire to try to get a compromise. And I think you ultimately — you could in conference committee either make the law less bad or delay the individual mandate or delay the whole thing. Even the president is very concerned about this law because he is delaying the employer mandate, because he is concerned maybe about what will happen in the elections, when it is seen that insurance premiums go up and actually, there are more problems than there are benefits.
ROBERTS: You have said that you would not go for a continuing resolution in the Senate if it includes funding for ObamaCare. But even if you don’t vote for it, it will likely pass the Senate. But if your colleagues in The House did exactly the same thing as you suggest you would. That would shut down the government, because the resolution wouldn’t pass, which might lead some people to wonder if you are trying to have it both ways, while the House has to have it one way.
PAUL: Well, I think what would happen is if the House voted to defund ObamaCare, it would come to the Senate. I think the Senate would approve ObamaCare funding. It would go to conference committee. And then I think a compromise would be achieved. But it is only achieved if the House stands up, uses and asserts their belief that ObamaCare is a bad law and will hurt people. And if they stand up and are strong, then I think the strength of that leverage would be used to achieve a compromise.
But if we announced to there are many conservatives like myself standing up and saying, look, ObamaCare is going to be a disaster for the country. And as I travel around Kentucky and around the country, people come up to me and they say stand firm, stand up, try to stop this monstrosity, because it is going to be bad for the country.
ROBERTS: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was recently asked in a Nevada public broadcasting system program if the ultimate goal of ObamaCare was to move to a single payer system. He responded, according to Forbes Magazine, yes, yes absolutely yes. If the Senate Majority leader tried to move ObamaCare to single payer system, what would be your response be?
PAUL: Well, you know, I think it is amazing sometimes when politicians are forthright. He’s admitted now that that is their goal.
People have to think about it, the goal of single payer, that may well mean that everybody in the country gets Medicaid. And if you’re excited about going on Medicaid then you need to vote with Harry Reid and with the president. But I think it is a bad idea. 85 percent of us had health insurance. We should have tried to fix the system for the 15 percent who didn’t, instead of destroying it for everybody in the country who actually had good health insurance. Our main concern was the price rising. The president did nothing about prices rising. He’s actually made insurance more expensive, because of his mandates and making the insurance cover more items.
ROBERTS: On Egypt, Senator Paul, you issued a statement the other day after the carnage of Wednesday, calling on the president to end foreign assistance to Egypt, but that relationship does a number of things. It insures compliance with the Camp David accords. It allows American military overflights without prior notification. It moves U.S. war ships to the front of the line at the Suez Canal. If you were to remove that military assistance, could you potentially damage your relationship that the United States need to have with a very important ally in the Middle East?
PAUL: Well the law is what the law is. And the president is currently in defiance of the law. The law is very explicit. When there is a military takeover, our aid must end, not that it might end or that he can sit around for months deciding whether he’s going to end…
ROBERTS: But there are ways to avoid that. There are ways to avoid that, which the president is pursuing now.
The question is, would ending military aid to Egypt be a prudent thing to do?
PAUL: Yes. Because the thing is, is I don’t think we’re buying any love of the Egyptian people when they see an American tank on the street, when someone is shot down or rolled over by a tank that was purchased with American money, do you think that buys any friendship with the Egyptian people?
What happens with foreign aid is basically foreign aid to Egypt is more likely to buy a lavish chateau for a dictator or a general in Paris than it is to buy bread for people in Cairo. We are not winning the hearts and minds of those in Egypt. All they do is they see our aid as something that goes to the people that are the dictators and despots that have been taking away their rights for generations. They also see it stolen. Mubarak stole it by the billions. And he had fancy homes all around the world with our money.
It has to end. We don’t have it. And it’s counterproductive. And it shows nothing but American weakness to continue it. Those who want to continue to say — they say, oh, we are projecting American power, their projecting exactly the opposite, they’re projecting American weakness, because it shows that we are so weak that we will not adhere to their own conditions on this aid. And it’s not modulating behavior, because the Egyptians just continue doing the same thing and when they roll tanks over protesters, that is not something I think most Americans would support.
ROBERTS: Time is growing short, senator, we just have a few seconds left. But I would like to look at politics for a second. There has been a public spat between your camp and the Chris Christie camp, which you said earlier this week you’d like to try to diffuse, maybe over a beer. But it continues, because after Governor Christie’s statements about the Republican Party should be trying to win elections, not having fights over ideology, one of your senior advisers said if I translate Governor Christie correctly, we shouldn’t be the party of ideas, we shouldn’t care what we stand for or even if we stand for anything. We reject that idea. Content free, so-called privatism is the problem not the solution.
And then your father, Congressman Ron Paul, came out and said Christie offers nothing.
Do you agree with your father?
PAUL: Well, I would say the party is big enough for both of us. It’s big enough for a lot of different Republicans. And in fact, we don’t need to — this all started with him saying we don’t have room for libertarian Republicans. The thing is that is how we grow our party. Libertarian Republicans like myself care about the right to privacy. We care about a more moderate and less aggressive foreign policy. And I think that will bring new people to our party.
Look, the party in the northeast is shrinking almost down to nothing. They need to be looking to people with new and different ideas who will attract the youth, independent and even Democrats to our party. So, saying there is no room for us was a big mistake on their part.
I will continue to say we grow the party by embracing some of these issues that have to do with individual freedom and also the right to privacy.
ROBERTS: But again, do you agree with your father when he says Governor Christie offers nothing?
PAUL: What I would say is that there’s room for people who believe in bigger government in our party. And I think that some of the things that he seems to have promoted make us believe that he thinks that there is a lot more spending that could go on.
I think that national defense is a priority for our country. And the only way we have enough money for national defense is actually to be very, very frugal with other spending. And that is a valid disagreement we have.
ROBERTS: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, good to talk to you this morning. Thanks so much for joining us.
PAUL: Thank you.
ROBERTS: With the continuing turmoil in Egypt, a lot of eyes are on the U.S. and it’s response. We talk about what the U.S. should do with two key lawmakers are coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation can not continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.
As a result, this morning we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: President Obama walking a fine line in his response, criticizing the growing violence in Egypt. Now Egyptian authorities say they are considering whether to ban the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that came to power a year ago when ousted president Mohammed Morsi took office in the country’s first free presidential elections.
Leland Vittert has the latest on the situation on the ground. He’s in our Mideast newsroom for us today.
Good afternoon, Leland.
LELAND VITTERT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, John.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s week of rage has really turned into an armed insurrection, day three, tanks and armored personnel carriers of the Egyptian army surrounded the Supreme Court there as they had intelligence that Muslim Brotherhood gunmen were headed there.
Oftentimes they try not only to protest but also take over these government buildings.
Yesterday gunmen used the minaret of one of the main mosques in Cairo to fire out not only at the crowd but also at the army down below.
The police had to fight their way in; there were Muslim Brotherhood supporters had taken refuge after attacking a police station, clear that mosque out. And as the police came out, they were greeted by cheers from the surrounding groups there.
The military is now thinking of outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood and has already begun mass arrests of its leadership, including this guy, Mohammad al-Zawahiri. He is the leader of Al Qaeda’s brother, also a jihadist there in Egypt who is very well known.
Today on the streets of Egypt, though, there has been a little bit of a return to normalcy. Banks are open and the stock market is open. It is important to note, John, that despite the bloodshed that we’ve seen inside Egypt, the army still has widespread popular support for this crackdown in the Muslim Brotherhood that is proving much more to be something of a violent militant organization than a peaceful political group.
Back to you.
ROBERTS: And a lot of support for their neighbors in the region as well.
Thanks very much, Leland.
Joining us now to talk more about this, Republican Congressman Pete King of New York, member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees, and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Gentlemen, welcome to both of you. Let me start off the segment if I could by going back to the president on Martha’s Vineyard, a little more of his reaction to Wednesday’s bloodshed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We don’t take sides with any particular party or political figure. I know it is tempting inside of Egypt to blame the United States or the West or some other outside actor for what has gone wrong. We have been blamed by supporters of Morsi; we have been blamed by the other side, as if we are supporters of Morsi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Senator Blumenthal, the president — and try to walk a fine line and a neutral line here — appears to have alienated both sides.
What’s your opinion of how he has handled this crisis?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: I agree with the president that the people of Egypt have to decide their own future and this bloodshed, the violence in the streets, has to stop.
The practical reality is that most of the military aid for this fiscal year, 2013, has already been obligated and delivered.
In fact, all of it, except for about four F-16’s and maybe some helicopters. So looking forward I think that the approach has to be to condition our future aid on specific steps toward the rule of law and return to democracy, respect for minorities and women and a more inclusive political process including the release of prisoners so that the aid is released in blocks that are conditioned on those steps. And I hope the president will support that approach, which is contained in the amendment offered by Senators Leahy and Graham to the Appropriations Subcommittee bill that will come to the floor.
ROBERTS: Congressman King, what are your thoughts on that?
Should the president, as Senators Graham, McCain and Rand Paul suggested, cut off all aid?
Or as you are calling in the Senate, as Senator Blumenthal suggests, make it conditional?
REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y.: We certainly shouldn’t cut off all aid. There are no good choices in Egypt. The fact is there’s no good guys there.
But of the two, I think there is more opportunity to protect American interests if we work with the military and continue our relationship with the military.
We have to have access to the Suez Canal. Al Qaeda should not be allowed to gain a foothold. The treaty with Israel should be enforced. It’s — I don’t think that could be done with the Muslim Brotherhood. It possibly can be done with the military.
We should maintain our relationship with the military. I would be reluctant to be cutting off aid. Obviously we should use it as a bargaining wedge. We should lean on the military to the extent that we can.
But I would not want to undercut them and allow the Muslim Brotherhood to come back, because they have shown they are not capable of democracy. And I don’t know if our immediate goals should be democracy per se. I would think a stable government would respect the human rights of minorities if that could be done, because after what we saw over the last two years, after the Arab Spring and in the chaos that ensued, I don’t know if, at this moment in time, a democracy is actually in store for Egypt. They should work toward a democracy with a stable government, with respect for human rights. To the extent we can influence that.
ROBERTS: Do you agree with that, Senator Blumenthal, that perhaps democracy is not in the cards, at least immediately, for Egypt?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, democracy is in the eye of the beholder. As we know, our democracy is really unique in the world, we are the greatest nation in the history of the world because we have a unique respect for the rights of minorities and individuals, every individual. So we can impose our own vision of democracy on a country like Egypt. And I do agree that our strategic interests merit strong respect, according to air space over Egypt as well as the Suez Canal.
The insistence — and we should make it even stronger — that the Sinai be policed to end human trafficking and smuggling of arms. And officer, maybe as important as anything else, is closer consultation with some of our allies in the region. The Gulf States as well as Israel on what our approach to Egypt going forward should be.
And I think we will find that aid that we may withhold is compensated by aid that the Gulf States may provide, even exceeding the amount of aid that we were going to provide.
So I disagree with Senator Paul on eliminating aid, canceling it entirely and agree with Congressman King.
I do, by the way, agree with Senator Paul that the FISA court needs to hear both, sides that we have to have a special advocate. I’m very pleased that he’s endorsed the concept. In fact, the specific blueprint that I have offered for a special advocate in the FISA courts, which also the president seemed to endorse in his statement last week.
ROBERTS: Well, since you bring it up, let me switch gears and go to the latest revelations about the NSA. NSA Director Keith Alexander was in Las Vegas at the end of last month, and again he gave assurances that the NSA is complying with the law and that there are appropriate checks and balances.
Here’s what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: I think it is important to understand the strict oversight that goes in, in these programs because the assumption is that people are out there wheeling and dealing and nothing could be further from the truth. We have tremendous oversight and compliance in these programs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Congressman King, you are a staunch defender of the NSA and its programs. You call the people who work there, quote, “patriots,” but would also appear very clear that mistakes are being made and, in many cases, they are not, as they should be, reporting those mistakes.
KING: Well, John, I totally disagree with that and I fully disagree with what Senator Rand Paul said. That was just a grab bag of misinformation and distortion coming from him. The fact is, John, look at this: take Rand Paul’s own numbers. He said there’s billions of phone calls being collected. It is not really true. But assume he is being right for once.
Billions of phone calls being collected, you juxtapose that with 2,800 violations which were self-reported by the NSA, which do not violate anyone’s rights. You are talking about 1,900 of them being foreigners. And when they came to the U.S. because the foreign mobile phone, it wasn’t immediately transferred over the way it was supposed to be.
No Americans’ rights were violated with that.
The others were records for more than five years by accident, self-reported by the NSA. To me it’s scandal, is when a government agency is somehow using information to hurt people, to go after them. Whatever mistakes were made were inadvertent and if you have a 99.99 percent batting average, that is better than most media people do, most politicians do. And I have a tremendous respect for General Alexander and the NSA. And this whole tone of snooping and spying that we use, I think it’s horrible. It is really a distortion and a smear and a slander of good patriotic Americans.
ROBERTS: But hang on for a second here. You said that everything was self reported by the NSA. The documents that were leaked at the end of last week clearly show that many of these violations were not appropriately reported, at least not to the foreign intelligence surveillance court, whose members also complain that they do not have the power to initiate investigations into non- compliance.
So is there a problem here?
KING: No, there’s not a problem. The fact is, it worked. If you have 99.99 percent compliance and you have self reporting errors, this came from an internal report, which then becomes part of an overall IG report. So I’m on the Intelligence Committee. I am satisfied that we are told what the NSA is doing. But, John, who else in government —
ROBERTS: Did you know, Congressman King, all of what was reported at the end of the week?
KING: It was all available. And there’s nothing there that bothers me. Quite frankly, that shows that the system works. And it works. We should be proud of it.
ROBERTS: All right.
Senator Blumenthal, anything in that report, anything in the reports that came to light at the end of the week that bother you?
BLUMENTHAL: There is a lot that bothers me and I share Congressman King’s respect for the brave and dedicated men and women who do our intelligence and national security work.
The problem — and there is a real problem — is with the system. It is a black box. The FISA court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court is a secret tribunal, issuing secret opinions, making secret law and a lot of it completely unavailable to members even of the Foreign Intelligence Committee.
BLUMENTHAL: So, I believe there need to be changes in the FISA court. So it can better uncover and scrutinize an oversee potential abuses, and I would establish a special advocate who would be responsible in effect for representing the Constitution. No delay or lack of security, because there would be preclearance, and warrants would be issued as much as they are now, as rapidly as presently goes on. But, also a change in the method of selecting the court to represent greater diversity and greater transparency in the operations to the extent possible. So, I think we are at a critical juncture, a turning point because there needs to be continued surveillance and intelligence gathering, but the trust and credibility of the system is gravely at risk and that is why we need these transparency and accountability reforms.
ROBERTS: Congressman King, it’s clear this is going to be a big topic of discussion when Congress returns after the Labor Day weekend. Nancy Pelosi said in response to the disclosure at the end of the week, “The press reports with the National Security Agency broke privacy rules thousands of times a year and reportedly sought to shield required disclosure of privacy violations are extremely disturbing.”
Do you think she is just way off in left field here?
KING: I think she is wrong. I wish she (inaudible) more carefully, but let me just say, this raises a larger issue. Where it is up to the president to come forward and defend it. I mean I’m not here, Mike Rogers, a number of us are defending the program. This is the president’s program. The president of the United States should be much more aggressive in defending and should be out there, and that’s why a lot of these distortions by people like Rand Paul who don’t know what they are talking about, are able to take hold. because the president has been relatively silent. I think he’s spoken twice on the NSA, once back in May and once ten days ago. He should be out there addressing the nation on this, going into detail, and if there have to be reforms, fine. Let’s address them. But in an intelligent way. And Senator Blumenthal, I fully agree with his tone, with his attitude, and I think that those are — that’s an area we can discuss. What bothers me, John, is that people we talk about stooping and spying and someone acting — some corrupt operation going on here. If there are mistakes, let’s try to correct them. If we can do something within the court without giving away secret information, let’s have an intelligent debate on that, getting it from people like Rand Paul.
ROBERTS: All right, Congressman King, you have declared your desire to potentially run for president in 2016. So, if successful, maybe you will have a chance as president to defend the NSA program. Congressman King, thank you …
ROBERTS: Thanks very much for joining us today. We can see you.
KING: Thank you, sir.
ROBERTS: Thank you.
Next, more on this week’s revelations that the NSA broke privacy rules many times. The agency chucks it up to mistakes. But what happens when the nation’s super secret spy agency gets sloppy? Our Sunday panel joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: A general impression has then taken hold not only among the American public, but also around the world that somehow we are out there willy-nilly, just sucking information on everybody and doing what we please with it, and that is not the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: President Obama last week defending the government against accusations of domestic spying saying the programs operate in the way that prevent abuse, but new revelations this week in “The Washington Post” seem to contradict the president’s and others claims that oversight. It’s time now for a Sunday group. Nina Easton of “Fortune” Magazine is with us today, a former Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, Kimberley Strassel, “The Wall Street Journal” and former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh. So, mistakes are a part of life. But this is an awful lot of mistakes.
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I mean not necessarily in context, I think, as Congressman King just side of the overall number of calls that are being put into a database somewhere and the amount of work that the NSA is actually doing. I think the number one question here, and the only question here, is there any evidence that the government is abusing its power to spy on Americans? And despite all of the conversations that we’ve had over the last couple of months we still do not have any evidence of that.
ROBERTS: Do you believe that?
EVAN BAYH, FORMER U.S. SENATOR (D-IN): Anytime our privacy is at stake Americans have to take that seriously. And some changes do need to be made. There needs to be an advocate for privacy. And having served on the intelligence committee for ten years, I can tell you, there do need to be more resources, so that the independent branches of government, including the courts, can police this thing. But as Kimberley was just saying, 80 percent of the violations were either technical in nature or involved typographical errors and 100 percent of them were inadvertent. So, the fact that the agency is self-reporting and wants to comply should give us some comfort, and there is not a vast conspiracy out there where they are intentionally listening in on our conversations.
ROBERTS: But they are self-reporting in an internal audit. Congressman Kucinich, you know, and you came out very strongly on this topic the other day, that a lot of these violations were not appropriately reported to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and other (inaudible) that are supposed to oversee.
DENNIS KUCINICH, FORMER U.S. REP. (D-OH): Congress largely kept in the dark the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court kept in the dark. Apparently the president isn’t aware. And so, when you have the Fourth Amendment at stake here and by reference the First Amendment, we have an obligation here. It appears that the NSA is gone rogue and we have to insist that they be reined in. In order to protect the privacy of Americans, stop this mess of intrusion in emails and phone calls and go back to having a country that works on the Fourth Amendment, right the search — to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure. Go and get a warrant. No massive — we’re going to get the whole haystack in order to find a needle.
ROBERTS: Gone rogue?
NINA EASTON, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: I don’t think this is NSA gone rogue. I think this is a large bureaucratic agency making mistakes. Which is troubling. And I think this is a great conversation to have, because we should be having more oversight of this agency, even defender like Dianne Feinstein is saying that now, we need more — we need more information and we need more oversight. That is great. But your right to privacy, our right to privacy also needs to be balanced against my right and your right to be protected against the terrorist attack. And I think we’ve got enough information out — he said — like I said, a good debate to be had. Because we have enough information now. A lot of it classified — true, to know what does work to prevent an attack.
And I think one of the important things that Senator Paul does bring up. Is that — is there is so much information that we are losing that sort of gumshoe — you know, like really good information on the ground intelligence that does have (inaudible).
ROBERTS: How do you sift through it all?
STRASSEL: Well, I can just push back a little bit here, though, I mean what are we talking about, we want a program that does its job effectively and also safeguards rights.
OK, an evoked term now is public advocate or the court needs more oversight — oversight in general. You know, a lot of really smart people have looked at this and pointed out that the most effective way to make sure that the executive branch that puts these things into place actually does its job and actually makes sure this prove, is to know that it itself is politically responsible when things go wrong and it doesn’t work. One of the problems of bringing an advocate in or having the court to have more responsibility, you are layering on and layering on all the people who are involved in this to the point when it all goes badly, everybody gets to point their fingers and say, oh, now we need a commission to work out what went wrong. And why this is working.
BAYH: Some of these things are correctable, Jon. I mean ten percent of the errors are typographical errors. They are just — and to ring the wrong area code for a phone number, surely we can do better than that. 70 percent of them involve their foreign cell phone as brought by someone into the United States, and apparently, the system isn’t able to differentiate that. The technicians need to work on that. But I think it is healthy that Dennis and Senator Paul are focusing on this. Anytime our privacy is at stake, that’s important. But I ultimately agree with Kimberley, you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. So, having been on the committee, there really weren’t enough resources to independently oversee this. Having the capacity to do that is important, making sure the court can do its job is important. And whether you call them an advocate or something else, we don’t need more — you know, bureaucracy, but we do need someone in there standing up for the privacy rights of Americans to make sure the appropriate balance is drawn.
KUCINICH: Look, I’d like to say this, and I’ll say it again. I voted against the Patriot Act, because I read it. Most members of Congress did not. They had the 12 hours of hearings. And then at the end they brought 0 they swapped the bill out and had this draconian powers for government reach in the people’s private lives. If we don’t take a stand for privacy here. Then we would let the NSA redefine who we are as Americans and that is not acceptable.
ROBERTS: You know, there’s just — there’s an interesting split in debate here — you know, on the one side you’ve got no big deal and on the other side you have got people like Congressman …
EASTON: I don’t think anybody is saying no big — I don’t think anyone’s saying no big deal, I think …
ROBERTS: Congressman Bayh said no big deal.
EASTON: Well, I think everybody agrees that privacy rights are important. And that this is a good debate to be had. Because we didn’t have that debate …
ROBERTS: (inaudible) a software mistake scoops up the phone records of 3,000 people in Washington D.C.
EASTON: And nothing happened from that.
ROBERTS: That’s not something to be concerned about.
EASTON: Right, right, but isn’t the point hear what evidence is there of any abuse?
BAYH: Trying to point that 100 percent, as far as we know, 100 percent of the mistakes were inadvertent, unintentional. So, these are mistakes we have to correct as many possible, but it is not the government intentionally out there recording our conversations.
EASTON: I just really resist when the term scandal and, you know, an agency gone rogue is applied to this. I mean this is a program the base — the bones of this program are needed, I think. And we need to make sure that there is oversight for that program, so it’s not …
KUCINICH: CIA, hello. I mean we have a CIA. What is the NSA really about? You know, they have overreached into people’s private lives and there ought to be consequences for that.
ROBERTS: All right, panel, we’re going to take a break here, but when we come back. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told Republicans this week to make winning the focus of the party. He takes apparent swipes of two potential 2016 rivals in the process. Is this feud good for the candidates but bad for the party? Our Sunday panel talks politics coming up next.
ROBERTS: Another delay for ObamaCare as a key provision is pushed back to 2015. With hurdles continuing to mount the law, will Republicans be able to take advantage? We’re back now with the panel. So, the Republican’s plan is to try to defund this thing and maybe wrap that around the continuing resolution at the end of next months. Nina, do you think that they have any chance at doing that?
EASTON: I don’t. Because they control one chamber. They control the House, they don’t control the Senate, and they don’t control White House, and I think — I think it is a mistake to pick a fight like that that you can’t win. Because what’s going to happen when you threaten to shut down the government, it is going to re-down to the detriment of the Republican Party, they are going to get blamed — and I think if you’re looking — I think it’s a strategic mistake on the part of Republicans that want to do that.
ROBERTS: Senator Paul said earlier that he doesn’t believe in shutting down the government, but he would like to see the individual mandate delayed? But Congressman Kucinich, is it fundamentally unfair to delay the employer mandate, the out of pocket limits and the criteria of insurability and then say to people, oh, by the way, you can (inaudible) health insurance?
KUCINICH: It is not fair. I mean this is starting to look like a train where they are decoupling the engine from — the passengers from the engine. And it’s starting to move forward, but who is on it? What we have here is the situation where there are still tens of millions Americans without adequate health care coverage. We have a for-profit system where the insurance companies keep raising their rates, and when all is said and done it is the insurance companies that are winning. They’ll get more profits, you take away the ability to be able to cap out of pocket expenses. There is already Americans growing broke with the cost of health care. And so, you know, this thing is a mess. ROBERTS: Is it falling apart piece by piece?
STRASSEL: Well, it is that and also you have to look at some of the thing that they have delayed in terms of the employer mandate, also in terms of the out of pocket limits. Are they doing that in part because they realize what this is going to do to insurance premiums? And this is the other piece of this, is that we’re likely to see an explosion in the fall. And then, public outrage at this is going to be huge. This, alongside of the fact that they’ve got out there, seriously trying to sign people up for this. I mean — And I don’t see how it’s going to work. Do you know how many people don’t sign up at the moment for Medicaid, which is also, basically, free healthcare — people at a certain health care level. It’s there, it’s available to them. I think one — one in four people eligible don’t sign up? Why would they sign up for ObamaCare?
ROBERTS: There is also another piece of this that has come to light. Senator Harry Reid did an interview with the local PBS station in Nevada, which — the person was asking Nevadans the ultimate goal of ObamaCare to move it to a single payer system. Here’s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NEVADA): What we have done here would be ObamaCare, a step in the right direction. But we are far from having something it’s going to work for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, eventually, though, you’ll think we’ll work beyond the insurance.
REID: Yes, absolutely, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Yes, absolutely work beyond insurance. Is that the ultimate goal here?
BAYH: Well, like all of us in public life, John, who gives lots and lots of interviews, the leader occasionally misspeaks.
BAYH: Just may be me one of those occasions …
BAYH: The important thing is to try and deal with the law that is on the books now. It is a very large complex piece of legislation. Nobody thought it was going to be perfect from the get-go. Changes have to be made. The administration is showing something of a pragmatic streak here. You know, adjusting, delaying things that aren’t ready to go. And the most important thing in the American people’s minds is what can we do to get the costs down. And if we delay the individual mandate, which may be where this is hidden, that may help in the short run, but you also have to look at preexisting conditions, lifetime caps. It’s hard to do one without the other, and so I think we are probably going to be a year or two before we really know how this is going to play out. But one final thing I’d like to say, the Keiser Foundation did do a study which indicated if you repealed the whole thing, you would see costs go up by $1,000 to $8,000 for an individual or a small group policy. You know, that is going to vary from state to state.
ROBERTS: All right. We promised our viewers politics, so let’s get into some of that. The RNC held its annual summer meeting, in which it was rolling out some new tools to try to match the Democrats in their big data collection. They got handed their lunch on that front in 2012. The Democrats have had some time to move ahead from that. Does the RNC have a chance to beat the Democrats at their own game?
EASTON: Well, there is the word ORCA, which we all remember the day of the election. Yes, I think the Democrats outstripped (ph) Republicans in 2012 on all the get-out-the-vote effort, social media and so forth, and had — and frankly in fairness to the Republican ticket, had the time to build that kind of infrastructure. They were in power, they were able to do that.
So I think that that’s — but the other thing about the RNC meeting that I think we’re seeing is that there is going to be this interesting split with the Republican Party coming up, with the more libertarian wing clearly has a — and Tea Party wing is clearly going to have a very strong voice in the next round.
ROBERTS: What do you make of the spat between Governor Christie and Senator Paul?
KUCINICH: I think it reflects what ought to be happening inside political parties. And then there’s a real debate about who we are as a country. Should we be intervening, should we be spying, should we be invading privacy.
ROBERTS: There is a lot of mudslinging.
KUCINICH: You know what, though, politics ain’t beanbag, as (inaudible).
ROBERTS: When you look at the potential field, Kimberley, 2016 candidates, you have got Rubio, Ryan, Paul, Christie, Ayotte, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, maybe Condoleezza Rice, Susana Martinez, and then on the Democratic side you have got Hillary. The fact that the Republican field is so broad, will that be a good thing or a bad thing, do you think?
STRASSEL: What you’d like to think is that this would be, as Congressman Kucinich said, a hopeful thing, in that you could have some really positive debates on really strong policy issues, and this could be a race to the top rather than a race to the bottom. The question is going to be whether or not this is all mudslinging or whether it gets back to something (inaudible).
(CROSSTALK) ROBERTS: — does anybody beat Hillary?
BAYH: Short answer, no. Particularly if the right wing of the Republican Party draws them out of the mainstream. You can’t offend women, Hispanics and young people and win presidential elections in this country.
ROBERTS: All right, thanks very much for joining us, panel. Really appreciate it. Good to see you. Remember, our discussion continues every Sunday on panel plus. We’ve got a lot to talk about this morning. You can find it on our website, at FoxnewsSunday.com. And make sure to follow us on Twitter @Foxnewssunday.
Up next, our power player of the week encouraging all of us to slow down through poetry.
ROBERTS: It is common practice in Washington for people to use words to score a point, to sting, but in February, we found a woman who uses words to reach out and to heal. Here is Chris Wallace with his Power Player of the Week.
NATASHA TRETHEWAY, U.S. POET LAUREATE: To comfort us when we have losses, to celebrate with us our joys and triumphs. But also to help us see things differently than we do in our everyday lives.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Natasha Tretheway is talking about poetry and the role she says it continues to play. Not as accessible as prose, not as immediate as video images. But conveying something important, something deeper.
Sometimes our everyday speech has a way of saying, this is me and that is you and we are different. And I think poetry has a way of saying this is my experience and you can share in it with me.
Truth be told I do not want to forget anything of my former life.
WALLACE: Tretheway is the nation’s 19th poet laureate. Working out of the Library of Congress, her job this year is to spread her love of poetry.
TRETHEWAY: I actually get inspired. It helps me to write poems to be here.
WALLACE: She describes her role as a cheerleader.
TRETHEWAY: In a former life was a cheerleader, and it seemed a natural way for me to think about being excited about something, being passionate about something that means a lot to me, that I’d like to convey to other people.
WALLACE: Tretheway’s father is white, her mother black. They had to leave Mississippi in the ’60s to get married.
How do you think it affected you, the idea that your parents’ marriage was a crime?
TRETHEWAY: Well, I think that it created in me a sense of psychological exile.
WALLACE: And when she was 19, her mother was murdered by her former stepfather.
TRETHEWAY: That is the moment where I really tried in the language of poetry to make sense of that loss.
Here the dead stand up in stone. White marble on Confederate Avenue. I stand on ground once hollowed by a web–
WALLACE: One of the themes of her work is memory. What gets left out of the nation’s public record. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for “Native Guard,” about a forgotten black Union regiment that fought in the Civil War.
TRETHEWAY: We know that it is our duty now to keep white men as prisoners, rebel soldiers, would-be masters.
WALLACE: She wrote that poem in the library’s reading room, in seat 170. Sometimes to rest her eye, she would look up at a pillar marked poetry.
TRETHEWAY: And now that I do it, I can’t see the word “poetry” so clearly, but I have faith it is there.
WALLACE: And so Tretheway will continue to cheerlead for an art form that forces you to slow down and contemplate in a world that doesn’t always value that.
TRETHEWAY: Trying to find a way to say what seems so necessary to be said but so difficult also to someone that I can speak very intimately to. Across time and space on the page. That is thrilling to me.
ROBERTS: This summer, the Library of Congress appointed Tretheway to a second term as poet laureate but her time in Washington is coming to an end. She says she is going to spend her second term teaching at Emory University and touring the country to see how poetry lives in other communities.
And that is it for today. Have a great week. Thanks so much for joining us. And we’ll see you again next “Fox News Sunday.”
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