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CNN "Erin Burnett Outfront" - Transcript: National Security Agency and Intelligence Gathering on Allies

Interview

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BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

BURNETT: Wow, we shall see. Of course, that was the tip of the iceberg. Thanks so much to you, Jim.

Republican Senator Rand Paul sits on both the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees. Senator, great to have you with us. You heard James Clapper's response to the question, are America's allies spying on America? And his answer was categorical, quote/unquote, "absolutely." Well, if that's true, should America stop spying on its closest allies?

SENATOR RAND PAUL (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I guess the real question, who is in charge? The president doesn't seem to know if he is spying on our allies. To me from where I sit, it doesn't seem like a good idea or it doesn't seem to advance diplomacy for us to be spying on our allies particularly the personal phone of the president of Germany for ten years. I think that seems unseemly. That goes against having relations with your allies.

BURNETT: It's a fair point, but of course, you know, Senator Paul, people on the other side say America doesn't have the luxury of not spying when other people are spying. If your allies are spying on you then you've got no choice.

PAUL: Yes. Didn't we have something about that when we were children about two wrongs don't make a right? I would say that I want our government to spy on terrorists, on people who they have probable cause they may attack us. But I think wasting time like spying on 70 million Spaniards or 30 million French or 124 billion pieces of information from Americans, I don't feel any safer. But do I feel like my privacy is being intruded on. I think the rest of the world feels that way. The question is will it eventually have downer productive effects, us being that great spy lord for the whole world.

BURNETT: The spy lord. Let me play something else that James Clapper said today. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAPPER: We face an unending array of threats to our way of life more than I've seen in my 50 years in intelligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: And of course, Senator, you know, obviously he's talking about broader threats. But you're saying it is OK to spy on terrorists but not our allies. Of course, 9/11 as we now know, a significant part of that was coordinated and planned in Germany. Industrial espionage, for example, happens all the time. The Europeans I'm sure would love to spy and get all they could on America's biggest exporter, Boeing. So they can get advantage for airbus. Why wouldn't we spy on Europe to help Europe, too?

PAUL: Yes, but here's the thing, Erin. You have now the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee or one of the committees in the House, James Sensenbrenner, two authors of the Patriot Act now saying that the head of our intelligence because we don't seem to know who is in charge. I mean, it is conceivable that the head of the intelligence is spying on our president's cell phone.

So we really don't know who is in charge and we think that they've overstep their bounds. You have people who were authors of the Patriot Act now saying our intelligence agents have gone too far. Not to mention that James Clapper came to Congress and lied and said he was not doing surveillance. He was not collecting any data on Americans.

So there is a lot of trust being lost and I think there is a great deal of credibility lost in the Intelligence Committee. And we have to trust our officials if we're going to let them have such sensitive information about our personal lives.

BURNETT: Your fellow Tea Party-backed Republican Marco Rubio is among those now actually seems to support these programs even with the fact that, you know, as you say, there's been a huge lack of transparency. Here's what he said just a couple days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Everyone spies on everybody. At the end of the day, if you are a U.S. government official traveling abroad, you are aware that anything you have on your cell phone, on your iPad could be monitored by foreign intelligence agencies including that of your own allies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I mean, Senator Paul, I totally understand your point. You want to really know what they're doing and of course, you have a right to especially given all the committees you're sitting on. But you know, CEOs have told me it takes the Chinese 90 seconds to steal every piece of data from your hotel room, the French maybe a little longer --

PAUL: Here's the thing. Here's the thing, Erin. There are 4 billion people on the planet. If we're going to spy on everybody all the time, if we're going to have this big brother state that we are going on live in, I'm afraid that that detracts from actually focusing in on the terrorists. We had one terrorist, the 20th terrorist, we caught a month in advance of 9/11.

We didn't do good police work. We did not even ask for a warrant so I think this excessive surveillance state where serve equally a terrorist and we'll look at every American's records. I think that distracts from the prize and the prize are terrorists. I think we need to focus on the terrorists and not be such a dragnet that we bring every innocent American and every innocent person in the world into our surveillance system.

BURNETT: Maybe the hay stack is too big to find the needle. Before we go, you a letter here today. I have it. It says you object to a vote on Janet Yellen's Fed chairmanship unless there is a vote on your bill about transparency at the fed. So in English translating that, you tried to do something similar with the John Brennan CIA nomination, which resulted in your 13-hour famous filibuster, which obviously is not sort of a great image for the American people right now. Are you prepared to stand there and filibuster again?

PAUL: We'll see. I do want to make the point that for three years we've asked Harry Reid for a vote at the fed. It passed the House overwhelmingly. Over 100 Democrats and all of the Republicans voted for auditing the fed. We are supposed to be in charge of the fed. We created the fed and Congress has abdicated its duty.

A lot of people are getting rich off the fed activity. We have a huge stock market bubble, a lot of wealthy people get wealthier, but I think a lot of poor people are getting poorer and I think our economy is struggling. There is an illusion of wealth. So I'm for looking into what's going on at the fed and not allowing it to be secret.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Senator Paul. We appreciate it as always. Good to see you.

PAUL: Thanks.

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