Sen. Rand Paul on plans to file lawsuit over NSA snooping

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 12, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now to Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul preparing a legal case himself, and this one could be big, very, very big.

The senator joins me now.

Senator, what are you up to here?

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: Well, we are asking people who have been affected by this spying if they want to sue the government and say, you know what, this is unconstitutional.

And since everyone's phone records were spied upon, I would guess that that includes millions and millions of people. We know Verizon was included, but there is also evidence and AT&T was complicit it as well. So what we're saying is, is that the government has no right through a single warrant to search everyone's records.

The government does have a right under the Fourth Amendment if you are accused of a crime and there is probable cause, they can go after you. And if your phone records lead to other people, they can get warrants to go after them. That's good police work. But looking at everybody's phone's records I think really go against what we stand for as a free people.

CAVUTO: What if they are not looking at the records? They argue, as the NSA chief was saying, just collecting the material. No one has done anything with it yet. You say the danger alone that they could and would is enough?

PAUL: Well, I guess my problem is they say, just trust us.

But since the IRS is targeting different individuals, I have lost my degree of trust with them. I also am losing some trust since the intelligence director came before a Senate committee in March of this year and basically lied to us. He said they weren't collecting any of the data. And it turns out not only are they collecting it, they're collecting all of the data.

I mean, every phone call is being collected. There is a danger that phone calls could ultimately be used through this type of collection to track your movements, because basically your cell phone is nothing more than a GPS transponder as well.

CAVUTO: Senator, a lot of this predates your arrival in Washington, but the administration argued that senators who were expressing surprise at this knew better, that they knew that this was going on. Did you?

PAUL: Well, I haven't expressed surprise, just outrage.

I last year was in Las Vegas and have had -- I have had classified briefings on this, but I wasn't allowed to talk about it in specifics. So, last year in Las Vegas, about a year ago, I said, they are looking at a gazillion, because I can't tell you the real number because that would be in my classified briefing.

But I really literally said that last year they are looking at a gazillion phone calls. And I have been objecting to this all along. I object to the whole principle that my third-party records that I give to a bank or to a phone company or to the Visa card company, that is private. And in fact I signed an agreement with most of these people. They are supposed to defend my privacy. But then the government comes in and gives them immunity, so these lawsuits against these companies will probably fail because Congress actually gave immunity to most of these companies.

CAVUTO: Then where, sir, do you draw the line? When you were with me not too long ago, you did see now and then the use, for example, of drones to go after bad guys, and did find some caveats there where you would consider that.

But here even leaving the gate, the phone records just piling up on a bureaucrat's desk, you do draw the line. Why?

PAUL: Well, what I say is no matter what type of technology you are using, you have to obey the Bill of Rights. So, the Bill of Rights says you can go after an individual person, place, item, papers, but it doesn't say you can go after 300 million people with one warrant.

This is the horrifying aspect of this is because the government has been misleading us and saying, oh, we only have had 20 orders or 50 court warrants this year so it's not a big deal. But if each warrant applies to a billion phone records a day, that is a lot of information. And at the very least, the American public needs to know are you in favor or and will you vote for congressmen and senators who have such a casual disregard for your privacy?

CAVUTO: All right, so the argument always, Senator, is that we're one terror incident from people forgetting this debate, the free speech and everything else, that they would sooner be wanting to protect themselves then get in the way of the government not being able to do that. You say what?

PAUL: Well, I say, even with this surveillance state, where they are looking at a billion phone calls a day, Boston bombings still occurred.

CAVUTO: Right.

PAUL: The underwear bomber still occurred.

And in those cases, I would say that actually maybe we're distracted by too much information, because the Boston bomber, we were warned about him and he went back to Chechnya and nobody knew he had gone back to Chechnya.

The underwear bomber was warned about to us by his father who reported him and we didn't do enough to stop him from coming in here with a bomb. We were lucky because the passengers actually stopped him. I would say we don't have to give up our freedom to have security.

I think you can have both. My suspicion is that even the people who they say they got through this system, really they got through good old-fashioned police work, because the one guy they are talking, Sasaz (ph), who had to do with his -- subway bombing, they -- they -- they nabbed his co-conspirator three months beforehand...

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

PAUL: ... through normal processes.

CAVUTO: Through normal channels, not any of these things.


PAUL: My guess is Naseer was making phone calls to Sasaz (ph). That is how they got Sasaz (ph) and not through some sort of random linking of phone calls.


CAVUTO: And apparently not through Verizon, I might add.

Let me ask you this, though, Senator. Your father created a bit of a stir when he talked about the 29-year-old leaker in this whole NSA drama, saying that he wouldn't be surprised -- and I don't think he was being entirely facetious -- if we had a drone go after him.

What did you think of that and do you think that is a genuine fear that the government might try to take him out?

PAUL: Yes, I think that would be not be something that I would think would happen. I think that there's a chance they could extradite him and I think there's a chance they may well have already started proceedings to try to bring him home.

CAVUTO: But if we couldn't extradite him, if we couldn't extradite him, would there be justification in trying to kill him?

PAUL: No. And I think if anything like that happened, obviously, there would be hue and cry from top to bottom through our country.

I don't see them doing that. But there was a story online where people were overheard in an airport saying they ought to make him disappear. That sounds like gossip and I don't know if it's true or not.


CAVUTO: How do you look at this guy, as a hero, as a villain? Where do you stand?

PAUL: Well, I would say that when people commit civil disobedience, they are doing something a lot of times because they think no one is listening, they're at wit's end. And he felt like basically the director of intelligence had lied.

So really you have two individuals that history will judge, one, an intelligence director who blatantly lied to the Senate and said he wasn't collecting any data when in fact he was collecting billions of pieces of every day on Americans, and then another gentleman who was obligated not to leak secret documents, but felt like the country was lying to the people about a program. And he thought it was going against the grain of the Constitution, and at great peril to himself, maybe not physical, but he has gone into exile, may never be able to return without being incarcerated.

I think history will judge whether he is a hero or villain.

CAVUTO: Because a lot of people whether his intentions were heroic or not, by running to Hong Kong, essentially to China, that is not heroic. You say what?

PAUL: I think everybody will make their own judgment.

I think choosing exile is hard for anyone.

CAVUTO: Right.

PAUL: And risking imprisonment, long-term imprisonment.

The thing is, is, really we should be asking the question about, is the director of intelligence a hero or a villain for lying to Congress, for hiding a massive program that is looking at every American's cell phone data every day?

CAVUTO: When are you going to file this suit, Senator?

PAUL: We're going to have a press conference tomorrow. There will be I believe 86 different groups that are involved and interested in privacy, the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment. There may be several different lawsuits.

But what we are asking people if they want to be part of this lawsuit is to go On that web site, they can give us their permission to become part of a lawsuit.

And I think if millions of people were to get interested and say, you know what, there are limits, I want them to get terrorists, I want them to get criminals, I want them to get bad guys, but I also want some semblance of privacy. If millions of people turned out and said that, I think all of a sudden we could get a change in the direction of the country.

CAVUTO: And just to be clear, because I'm no lawyer, who are you suing?

PAUL: It would have to be the government's position on this, trying to overturn a...

CAVUTO: But would it be the White House? I understand the government's position, but would it target the White House, the president?


PAUL: Well, it would have to be the FISA court order that gave permission to do this.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

PAUL: So, they have gone -- they have gone by what they think the law is. It would be us saying the law...


CAVUTO: So it's really the Justice Department? You are suing the Justice Department?

PAUL: Well, it's the constitutionality.

CAVUTO: Gotcha

PAUL: We are suing over the constitutionality of these orders.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, thank you very much. We will be watching very closely.

PAUL: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Rand Paul.

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