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Fox News "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" - Transcript - NSA Surveillance and Benghazi

Interview

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WALLACE: Senator Paul has painted a picture of unconstitutional government overreach.

We want to hear now from fellow Republican, Senator Ron Johnson, who joins us from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

And here in Washington, General Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and the CIA, who used to run the government surveillance programs. He's now a global security consultant.

Senator Johnson, you just heard Rand Paul. Do you think that we need more restriction on these government surveillance programs?

SEN. RON JOHNSON, R-WIS.: Good morning, Chris.

Listen, I'm every bit as concerned about civil liberties as Senator Paul and quite honestly -- quite honestly, as most persons are, and that's a good thing. You know, this is not a partisan issue. Across the political spectrum, people are concerned about preserving our liberties and maintaining our civil liberties.

But, at the same time, you know, we have -- we face a very real, asymmetric threat in international terrorism, and our greatest line of defense against that terrorism is intelligence-gathering capabilities.

And so, we have to maintain that and it is a very delicate balance and that balance shifts based on circumstances, and based on the time. But, you know, we do need congressional oversight on this. It's a good thing that these laws come up for reauthorization.

So, I'm every bit as concerned with civil liberties and then we're going to be conducting robots to oversight on these -- on these programs.

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WALLACE: Let's turn to foreign policy. Senator Johnson, as we discussed with Senator Paul, the president named a new national security adviser this week, Susan Rice, the former U.N. ambassador who infamously went out on the Sunday talk shows.

One, what do you think of that? And two, I'm going to ask you the same question I asked of Senator Paul. You are also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations. What do you think about the nominations of Victoria Nuland, who was Hillary Clinton's spokeswoman during Benghazi, as an assistant secretary of state, and Samantha power as U.N. ambassador? And will you use their nominations to try to get answers on Benghazi?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, Chris, it's not surprising that President Obama appointed Secretary Rice. But it's disappointing that he's chosen this moment when -- let's face it -- his administration is going through a crisis of credibility.

The reason this NSA thing has blown up is because the American people have lost their faith in President Obama and his administration. I mean, I'm not the only one saying that. "The New York Times" is saying this administration has lost all credibility.

And so, Susan Rice was the person at the center of misleading America on Benghazi and so it's incredibly disappointing. And what we need to do on Benghazi, the next step is we need to get the names of the survivors and we need to get those folks up in front of Congress and to tell us exactly what happened and what assets might have been in place.

So, if we have to utilize some of these nominations to get that information I think that might be an appropriate course of action.

WALLACE: Would you --

JOHNSON: But Americans are just losing faith in this administration and that's not a good thing.

WALLACE: Would you consider putting a hold on either the Nuland or Power nominations to -- as leverage to get this information?

JOHNSON: I think that's a possibility.

You know, when Secretary Clinton came before our committee in response to my questioning her, she asked her own question, what difference does it make? We're starting to see the difference it makes when the American people lose faith in this administration.

But, you know, I think a healthy mistrust of government is a good thing, but what I look to do is make sure the Americans start taking a look at the awesome power of government in other areas, you know, the ability to take 45 percent of your income, 40 percent of your estate, tell you what doctor to utilize, you know, what type of health treatments are going to be made available to you.

So, this is about limiting our government and Americans do need to be very skeptical of an ever-expanding, ever-more-powerful government.

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WALLACE: Finally, Senator Johnson --

JOHNSON: Chris, can I just quick --

WALLACE: Yes, sure. Go ahead.

JOHNSON: OK. I think what this administration was trying to really cover up was really their gross negligence, really, the fact that they did not -- not only provide the security that was necessary in Benghazi, but they actually denied -- they actually rammed down the security, basically made the American people believe that all was well in Benghazi, all was well with their policies leading from behind, and that's the real story behind Benghazi and that's where we need to get the bottom of.

WALLACE: I've got less than a minute left. Senator Johnson, very generally and briefly, on immigration -- which is now on the Senator floor, the big issue on the senate floor. What changes do you need to see in the legislation for you to support it?

JOHNSON: Well, I want to see an immigration bill passed because we have to fix this system. It's not good for anybody. We definitely need to make sure that the borders are going to be secure, and we also need to make sure that, you know, basically, benefits don't flow to people that are here illegally.

And so, really, I'm very hopeful that we can pass a bill. But I agree with Senator Paul, the challenge is getting it to the House. So we're going to have to strengthen those provisions in the Senate, so we have a bill that passes the House. It doesn't do anybody any good just to pass in the Senate.

WALLACE: Senator Johnson, General Hayden, I want to talk you both for coming in today.

HAYDEN: Thank you.

WALLACE: Pleasure to talk with you as always.

JOHNSON: Have a great day.

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