News Anchor: Welcome to Newsmax TV, I’m Kathleen Walter. With us now is former GOP presidential candidate, and the current chairman of the Campaign for Liberty, Congressman Ron Paul. Representative Paul, thanks so much for joining us today.
Ron Paul: Thank you, it’s nice to be with you.
News Anchor: You’ve condemned reports that the Obama Administration is secretly collecting data from the phone calls of millions of Americans. What’s your main concern here?
Ron Paul: The right to your privacy and enforcing the 4th Amendment, that’s what concerns me. I think it’s a very, very serious matter and it’s very, very dangerous. And I think the abuse has been going on for a long, long time, nobody should be surprised. But it seems incremental, it’s got a lot worse in the last 10 years, and it’s ongoing. And the way I see it, if the people don’t wake up, it will get a lot, lot worse.
News Anchor: The chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, says that the PRISM surveillance program has foiled multiple attempted terrorist attacks inside the United States, including a 2009 plot to bomb New York City subways. She says it played a role in the case against an American who scouted targets in Mumbai, India, before a deadly terrorist attack there in 2008. Representative Mike Rogers says that PRISM has indeed prevented a terrorist attack. Do you believe this program has protected national security?
Ron Paul: Well, if they can find one incident, they’d be lucky; they’re exaggerating. But even if they did, is that an excuse to throw the whole constitution out of the window? You can have a lot of safety by a lot of security, you could stop all child beating and wife beating by having a camera in everybody’s house, but you give up total privacy. Nobody is proposing that, but that’s essentially what they’re saying, that in order to maybe catch somebody, all Americans have to give up all their privacy. And, besides, the statistics they cite are grossly exaggerated, because I think it was New York Times that reported that 14 out of 22 of these so-called incidents where they saved us from these horrible attacks, were actually sting operations, they were entrapments and the FBI was involved and they get out of hand, and then they announce, “Oh, we just saved you”. I think that’s all to build fear and intimidate people and make them willing to sacrifice their liberties at the expense of thinking they’re going to be safer. We were warned a long time that if we develop that attitude, not only do we sacrifice our liberty, we’re actually less safe.
News Anchor: Yes, so how do we balance U.S. National Security while protecting civil liberties at the same time? Should we throw out this program all together, or should we just impose more restrictions?
Ron Paul: Sure we should throw them all out together, the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Courts, secret courts. We should obey the constitution, the constitution provides ways for getting a search warrant. But these blanket searches of everybody giving up all your privacy, is insane. And it’s the position of an authoritarian dictatorship that wants this type of power. So get a legitimate warrant, there should be probable cause, why do we give up on this? So I think this whole idea that you have to have a balance and give up so much of your freedom for more security, is a very dangerous notion.
News Anchor: President Obama has come out saying that the programs are approved by Congress, they’re overseen by the courts, and are carefully constrained. How do you respond to that, and do you believe him when he says to Americans, “We are not listening to your phone calls”?
Ron Paul: Well, I wonder what they’re doing if they’re not listening. In order to make use of all of this, if they’re not listening, then why are they doing it? They have to listen to find out who the bad guys are that they think they’re going to catch, but they have to listen to them. What they’re saying is as we speak on the phones today, that they’re not literally listening right now, but there’s a recording of this made, and there will be flags and then they can go back and listen to what they want. But then they go back and say, “Then we’ll get the proper search warrant”. From where, from some secret court? These FISA courts are just totally secret, and it’s just not the way a free society operates, it’s not proper under our constitution, it doesn’t make us safer, and it’s just such a dangerous notion to think that the governments have this prerogative. Our constitution was designed to make sure the government was open and the people have their privacy, today, the dominant theory with the people in Washington is the government has to be secret, and you and I have no privacy. So they’ve turned this whole thing on its head, and we’re doing exactly the opposite of what we should be doing in a free society.
News Anchor: In light of the recent scandals involving the IRS targeting of conservative and religious groups, and in light of the AP phone records scandal and the targeting of Fox News’ James Rosen, are you especially concerned that this program could be abused?
Ron Paul: Well, I’m concerned that we have an income tax that always leads to problems. Matter of fact, even if they obeyed all the so called rules of the income tax, it’s devastating, because it’s so vicious in its destruction of wealth. So the income tax is the culprit. The fact that they abuse the income tax and it becomes politicized, is a natural tendency, that’s what governments do. And it’s not just the Obama Administration, this has been going on for decades. It’s not a new history, everybody knows that Nixon and others did it, and they have their enemies list and they prosecute their enemies. So there is a natural consequence of giving too much power to government, whether it’s eavesdropping or the IRS or whatever, people are blinded by the fact that they think government is going to take care of us. And governments can’t take care of us, they can’t provide perfect safety, and they can’t provide perfect economic equality and prosperity. People have to do that for themselves, governments are supposed to be designed to provide liberty and protection and due process of law, but not to try to provide this perfect society where everybody is perfectly safe and everybody is taken care of in an absolute manner, that is a course to disaster.
News Anchor: Edward Snowden has revealed himself as the whistleblower behind the NSA leak, knowing full well he faces jail time. NSA director, Mike Clapper, says such a disclosure was reckless, and the Justice Department has launched a criminal enquiry. Does Snowden’s leak hurt U.S. national security, and what, if anything, should happen to him?
Ron Paul: Well, he should be hailed as a hero for releasing the truth about our government. The most important thing is knowing the truth about things, you can’t act if you don’t. This idea that governments should be totally secret and we shouldn’t know the truth, I think is the most dangerous that we can have. So yes, he knows he’s broken a law, but they have broken the constitution, which is much worse. He’s trying to save us from ourselves by telling us what is going on, and it is excessive. So he knows the risk and he knows that he’s a target now, he suspects they’ll try to kill him, they’ll try to put him in prison, or execute him. But he felt so strongly about telling the American people what’s going on. But I’ve used the saying that ‘in an empire, truth becomes treason’. He tells us the truth about what our government is doing, so he’ll be charged with treason. We passed laws to protect people who tell us the truth about government, but if we find out somebody has told the truth about government, whether it’s the CIA agents that told us about torture … that CIA agent is now in prison. So we have lost the fundamental purpose of what government should be in a free society, and, for that, we are suffering economically, we’re suffering from the constant wars, and we’re suffering from the loss of our liberties.
News Anchor: In these next few weeks, the Senate will debate bipartisan immigration reform legislation. If you were still in the house, could you vote for this legislation, does it have any chance of passing the House?
Ron Paul: Well, I haven’t yet looked at that in detail, as I would if I were getting ready to vote on it. But Campaign for Liberty, our organization, has coming out making some points about some very, very dangerous parts of the immigration bill. And that’s the biometric national ID identifier/card, which I think is very, very dangerous. Even without looking at all the details of the other things, which I’m sure have some pros and some cons, the national ID card, or the biometric identification, I think is very bad. Once again, it’s another intrusion in our privacy, and I think it’s very detrimental.
News Anchor: Turning to Syria, White House officials say the Obama Administration could decide this week to approve lethal aid for the Syrian rebels, and will weigh the merits of a less likely move to send in U.S. air power to enforce a no-fly zone over the civil war wracked nation. You have always been very cautious about U.S. involvement abroad, what do you make of the Obama Administration’s handling of Syria?
Ron Paul: It’s crazy. We have all these wars that we’re losing, we’ve lost in Afghanistan, it’s total chaos in Iraq, there was no Al-Qaida in Iraq, and now there is. The Al-Qaida is over there helping the rebels in Syria, and now we’re joining the Al-Qaida and helping them out to overthrow Assad. It makes no sense whatsoever, and it doesn’t make good sense for our national security, it makes no economic sense. And why should we support a bunch of guys about whom we have no idea who they are or what they’re doing. Have we improved things in Libya, have we improved things in Egypt? I think ultimately this policy is going to backfire not only on the United States, but it’s going to back fire on Israel, because I think these countries end up taking over. The rebels that take over are using radical Islamists who are going to be more anti-Israel, and yet we’re supporting them as well as Israel supports this. So I think it’s a foolish policy, and I think the policy that the founders talked about is of non-interventionism, minding our own business, no nation-building, stay out of the internal affairs of other nations. So that, I think, is fantastic, I think that’s the foreign policy that Americans should endorse, and more and more people are starting to realize the foolishness of these past ten years of endless war and how there’s a perpetual war against global terrorism, and they’re not even able to define it. And they don’t even want to realize that our drone warfare and our arbitrary killing of people around the world is the reason people want to kill us. And unless we realize that, this is going to go on for a long time, it’s going to get a lot worse, and it will only end with our bankruptcy, which is not too far off.
News Anchor: Alright, the GOP in 2014, what shape are Republicans in, in your view, and can they win back the Senate?
Ron Paul: Well, they have this tremendous opportunity because the American people now are sick and tired of Obama, especially on this surveillance and spying on all Americans, and we have Republicans now who are the best champions of Obama. It’s crazy. They get the best political issue, but they’re wrong philosophically, and they come down on the side of saying, “Oh, this is what we like about Obama”. As long as they keep doing this … Actually from my viewpoint, it’s irrelevant. Whether you have Republicans in there that endorse perpetual war on global terrorism and perpetual war against American civil liberties, it doesn’t matter whether you have Obama doing it or George Bush doing it. The American people suffer nevertheless. So what we need is a revamping of the basic understanding about what the constitution says, and have a better understanding and better desire and determination to live in a free society.
News Anchor: Last question for you, Congressman Paul, your son, Senator Rand Paul, is said to be considering a presidential bid in 2016. Can you give us some insight into his plans and what, if any, words of encouragement have you offered him?
Ron Paul: We haven’t talked about it.
News Anchor: Alright, we’ll leave it there. Do you hope he throws his hat into the ring?
Ron Paul: Well, I want him to do what he wants to do.
News Anchor: Alright, we’ll be watching. Congressman Ron Paul, thanks so much for being with us today.
Ron Paul: Alright, very good.
News Anchor: Thank you for watching Newsmax TV.