OTR Interviews

Rand Paul: Intel Director Clapper a bigger danger than Snowden

Kentucky senator explains why he's calling for the resignation of National Intelligence Director James Clapper

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Rand Paul calling for the resignation of director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Senator Paul saying Clapper is a bigger danger to the U.S. than NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Why does he say that? Senator Paul joins us. Before I -- nice to see you, sir. Before I get to the question of Snowden versus Clapper, I'm curious. You call for his resignation. Why do you call for him to be fired?

SENATOR RAND PAUL, R-KY: Well, either or and/or prosecution, to tell you the truth. I think that it's a bit hypocritical for those who want blood and they want to prosecute Snowden for breaking the law, which he did. But they don't want to do anything to the director of intelligence for breaking the law.

It's like we are going to pick and choose which laws can be broken and which ones can't. I think particularly when you are a high ranking official in government. You are setting an example for the rest of government. It's made it frankly hard for us to believe when the intelligence community comes and says oh, we need this surveillance technique because we caught all these terrorists and you are like well, let's look at them one by one we don't believe you when you tell us that.

SUSTEREN: You say based on his March 12th testimony when you say the NSA does not wittingly collect information on all Americans, bulk information. After Snowden released his information we found out that was simply not true. He apologized. But, none the less, he knew about it when he said it?

PAUL: Some people say he never would have ever admitted to this and American would have never known had Snowden's revelations never come forward. Senator Widen told him in advance he wasn't going to ask the question. It wasn't like he got hamstrung and got confused and gave the wrong answer. He was told in advance he would get the question. He chose to fly public testimony.

But, see now it puts at odds all of our testimony from anybody from President Obama's administration. When they come to us and they tell us something, are they lying to us because it's classified? I get it all the time where they at least admit it's classified and I can't talk to you in this setting about it I'm concerned now they may tell me something that may not be the truth.

SUSTEREN: Well, there is no consequence for not telling the truth even Senator Saxby Chambliss Republican from George, a ranking member. He said Clapper is quote, "In a tough spot in the opening hearing and he should not resign." He could have simply said it was classified, right?

PAUL: They do it all the time. I would think it's sort of 101 for people who know classified information to say, Senator, I can't discuss that in this setting.

SUSTEREN: Why didn't he?

PAUL: I have no idea why because it's purposefully telling us the opposite of what's true and it's, I don't know, it's very, very damaging to the credibility.

SUSTEREN: Why is Senator Chambliss sort of like oh well, you know, he is in a tough spot?

PAUL: I think some are more forgiving of the intelligence community and they would only do things for good. I actually don't dispute their motives. I don't think Clapper is a bad person or I think he probably wants what he what we all want. We want protection from terrorists. He has a loose definition of sort of surveillance and privacy and the law frankly that I think we shouldn't have. We need more protection off you are privacy.

SUSTEREN: Why do you say Clapper is more dangerous than Edward Snowden?

PAUL: Because I think overall he has damaged the credibility of the entire administration. But it's his on top of the heels of other things with IRS agents or IRS officials who are targeting people. They haven't been held responsible. We have state department people through Benghazi that didn't send reinforcements, didn't provide adequate security when it was requested. They haven't been fired. So it's really one thing after another leading us to see this is sort of a lawless administration.

SUSTEREN: And so you would refer Clapper to a perjury investigation for a criminal action?

PAUL: I'm not alone. James Sensenbrenner who is a high ranking congressman on intelligence co-authored the Patriot Act to say exactly the same thing. I don't understand why there is such a clamour that they want to go after Snowden, but they want to do nothing for Clapper who broke the law also.

You can argue that Snowden really believes he was doing it for a higher purpose. I'm not saying he is completely without culpability either. I think we do have to have laws on leaking, but we also have to have laws on lying.

SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir. Thank you. Thanks for being with us tonight.