Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) compared Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s misleading Congress with fugitive leaker Edward Snowden Thursday, when talking to reporters outside the White House.
He also expressed concerns about how President Barack Obama defines due process, and said he would not be satisfied until the Supreme Court issued a ruling on the National Security Agency data mining program.
“I haven’t come out in favor of clemency,” Paul said in response to a question about Snowden. “What I’ve come out in favor of saying is that I don’t think the death penalty is appropriate punishment, or life imprisonment.
“I also think that those who call for some sort of frontier justice for him need to understand there needs to be some equal protection and the law needs to be applied equally,” Paul continued. “James Clapper by all accounts committed perjury, which is punishable by five years in prison. If you want to throw the book at Snowden, I think it’s hard to say we’re not going to do anything about James Clapper lying to Congress.”
Another reporter asked, “You’re not comparing what Clapper did to what Snowden did are you?”
Paul answered, “I think I just did.”
But he followed, “I don’t think it’s my job necessarily to compare them or to contrast them or to say the degrees. But I think what James Clapper has greatly harmed the credibility of intelligence agencies and it makes it hard for us to believe them when they come to Capitol Hill now because he frankly lied when he was prepped for a question. As he said, he told the least untruthful thing he could think of.”
Clapper told the Senate in March that there data was not being collected on Americans. That proved not to be the case, as revelations from former NSA contractor Snowden showed.
Paul, who has filed a lawsuit to stop the NSA spying program, told TheBlaze that the administration should have greater respect for due process.
“This is a fundamental misconception I think sometimes of the president on a lot of things,” Paul said. “For example, due process can be performed with a power point presentation and a bunch of NSA attorneys. That’s not due process either. It’s also true of the FISA court. That’s not due process. A fundamental part of due process is you find truth through an adversarial process. You have to have people on both sides.”
TheBlaze asked if Paul believed Obama would follow the recommendations of his task force that called for more transparency in the NSA program.
“I’ll only be satisfied if this is debated, discussed and decided by the Supreme Court,” Paul told TheBlaze. “One of the most important problems we have now with looking at these warrants to see if they are valid or not, you have constitutional questions being decided in secret by the FISA court.
“I think that goes against what America stands for and I think you have to have it decided in open court,” Paul continued. “I’ve been working hard to make it easier to contest a FISA warrant and to make it an easier avenue to get that into an appellate court and ultimately the Supreme Court. I think that no matter what happens, within about a year, we will have a case, whether it’s my case or others, there will be a case that makes it all the way to the Supreme Court.”
Several members of Congress were at the White House Thursday meeting with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden about the NSA program. The meeting included Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee and Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Paul was not part of the meeting, but attended a White House event where Obama was promoting “Promise Zones,” a plan with some actual similarities to “Economic Freedom Zones” that Paul has proposed in the Senate of using tax incentives to lift poor communities.
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