Rep. Steve King joined Glenn on radio this morning to discuss The Patriot Act, it’s future, and current amendments trying to be pushed through Congress.
Watch a highlight below and scroll down for a rough transcript:
GLENN: We have Steve King on. And I know he's proud to be following this conversation, about how Mariah Carey looks like me in a dress. Steve, how are you?
STEVE: Well, I'm doing fine, Glenn, and thank you for having me on. I'm just having trouble imagining you in a dress.
GLENN: Yes. Well, thank you very much. You never know. We now have Bruce Jenner in a dress on the cover of Vanity Fair. So why doesn't everybody get into a dress?
STEVE: I'll have some answers for that, but maybe I should reserve that. Bruce Jenner -- Graceland College, Lamoni, Iowa is where he had his athletic career.
GLENN: Yeah. I would leave it at that here, Steve.
STEVE: Thanks for the good counsel.
GLENN: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. So, Congressman, we want to talk to you because I think we disagree on something. And you're one of the really good guys in Congress. You're a guy I really trust. I think you've been there for a long time and you haven't folded and become a dirtbag. And I respect your point of view. But you're for the USA Freedom Act, except you're actually for it being a little stronger and giving the government even more control. And you're going to have to convince me of this because I despise the Patriot Act. I want them to have a warrant if they have a problem with somebody. And not a general warrant of, everybody who has eyes and a nose and at least one ear.
STEVE: Well, Glenn, yeah, I think we would be on a different place on the Patriot Act. And I have -- I have sat in through a lot of classified briefings and go into the secure room and read what's in there. That gives me an exclusive piece of information that I can't talk with -- you know, that's different from yours or anybody else's. It's just that as I see this -- and I went back and reviewed a case, Smith v. Maryland, 1979, that said there's not an expectation of privacy when it comes to public domain and phone bills. And that's the foundation of this metadata collection. I'm at this place where I want to protect people's privacy. And I'm okay with ending the metadata protection. That's outside the bounds of what we thought and intended when this Patriot Act was passed. But I'm suggesting instead of us having no metadata access because we have a cyber war to fight against. There's no reason to suspend the Constitution. But we have a cyber war to fight against the rallied Islam. Islamic jihad. I offered an amendment that would allow our NSA to reach an agreement, to negotiate with telecommunication companies to hold the data for them so they actually do have access to it, rather than beings subject to whether those companies -- the private companies decide to keep it or not. And that way, the information will be within the hands of the private sector, which doesn't seem to give people a lot of heartburn. And yet, still, it would be accessible under a FISA warrant, which there are only some 20 people, 30 people that have access to that.
GLENN: So here's where I want to see if we can reach agreement here, Steve. I don't have a problem -- if companies collect my information, I expect that. And I don't like -- if I don't like it, I can go to another company. If a company chooses to do that -- there's two parts of this. I don't want our federal government collecting all this data. There's no good from them having access to every phone call and everything that you've ever done, even if they don't listen. Even if they don't read. At some point, when the average person, they now say, is committing three felonies unknown to them every single day, all it requires is somebody who has ill will for one group or another and they can prove you doing anything because they have all the data. What I really want is, A, the government not holding all this data themselves, and, B, an actual constitutional warrant.
If everybody is for -- if you have a bad guy, you know, if they would have gone with the Tsarnaev brothers, and the government would have come and said, hey, we need to get their phone records because, you know, they've been out of the country. They're going over to Chechnya and everything else. Everybody would have said, yeah, go ahead. That makes sense. But just to gather everybody's is wrong, and to have a blanket warrant is wrong
STEVE: Well, then -- a blanket warrant, I think that's -- I think that's a different kind of an issue than what we actually have here, as far as the blanket warrant is concerned. Unless you consider that the telephone metadata is actually being something that is being processed to try to identify what they're doing. I've suggested this that, if we're not -- either one of us are very concerned about the private sector companies, the telecommunications companies holding that data, they need it for billing. And if they didn't have the data, someone would sue them for billing them unjustly and they wouldn't be able to defend themselves. So the data will be there for a period of time. I can ask the intelligence community how long they need to have access to that data, and they were talking in terms of five years, about three or four years ago. And that's what they'll say essentially under oath. But if you get it back to private, then maybe 18 months. And I look at this -- we chased Osama bin Laden around for nine and a half years before we finally got him. And he was still plotting attacks against the United States according to recent reports coming out of the data that they released from the compound. So I don't know how long we need access. I think the intelligence community has certainly a better measure than I do. If it's five years and not a year and a half, if we had a provision in the USA Freedom Act that ends all government metadata collection, I should say, but allows them to reach a contract with Verizon, for example. Verizon, will you hold that data for a longer period of time? We'll pay you to store it. And it's available under a constitutional warrant, under a foreign intelligence surveillance court, that should satisfy the constitutional concerns of people and their privacy concerns. Do you see a flaw in that approach?
GLENN: I honestly -- Congressman, I just don't trust -- you know, we were talking about it yesterday. And I asked, does anybody here believe that the United States government stopped this program yesterday? Nobody. Nobody believes that.
We talked to Rand Paul and he was explaining -- I think it was under executive order like 1332 or something. He said they've got another, through executive order, that you guys don't even know the full details on. That they're collecting this metadata under. The problem is, I don't think we're having honest conversations. Because I think -- I don't believe there's anybody in the United States that wants to have another terrorist attack, except for terrorists. There's -- everybody wants to do common sense things, but we want to do them right and do them constitutionally. But I don't think that we're having a real conversation on those things. You know, just this whole Freedom Act seems to be pushed through really rather secretively, it seems, by the Republicans. And I don't understand it. Why can't we have an adult conversation?
STEVE: Glenn, we should have an adult conversation. I think you put your finger on it. I reviewed today the op-ed that I wrote a year ago. I believe it's dated May 14th of 2014. Maybe May 20th. Somewhere close to there. In that op-ed, I wrote and complained that it was secretive, and it was hushed, and it was rushed through. Then it sat dormant for a year, and they bring it back and do essentially the same thing. So when I offer my amendment, which I think it should get -- and it got support from people like Louie Gohmert and others who are very concerned about privacy, but also concerned about national security. When I offered that amendment, it was no deal because we've already negotiated this. We've negotiated with the Democrats. And John Conyers and Jerry Nadler and others have cosponsored the legislation signed onto the bill. Therefore, we can't let it be changed by any amendment, no matter how good it is. That's also true on the Senate side, if you look at the cosponsors over there. You have people that are as disparate -- for example, Leahy and Mike Lee, whom I have great respect for. They came together on this conclusion on how to approach the metadata collection. Trust the telecoms to hold the data and then leave the question open as to -- well, essentially it's been addressed a little bit now -- but leave it open as to whether the government can negotiate for that data to be held longer or not. I think the case is closed on that because they voted my amendment down twice. So I don't think telecommunication companies will believe that Congress has somehow implied that they should be able to negotiate holding that data longer, if they voted my amendment down.
So that's where this is at. I want our nation to be safe. I want us to be constitutionally principled. I want to live with that. And yet, in today's world, we have a president who just is not bound by his own oath. And the Constitution no longer means in the eyes of the public what it was understood to mean at the time of ratification. And that has been eroded dramatically over the last six years, and that is a big problem.
GLENN: Well, see, this is where -- I would like to have the conversation with you, is we said to -- to Rand Paul yesterday, it's not just this president. It's any president. No president should be able to have this kind of access to this kind of information. I don't want this in the hands of any government. So when you ask, you know, would you be comfortable with what you just proposed? If it really is -- and this is the key part -- if it really is private companies hold information and then if there is a suspect, you go and get a warrant for that specific information and the company gives you that information, if that's -- that's what we've always done. You know -- that's the way it's supposed to work. So, yeah, I don't have a problem with that. I just don't think that that's going to happen.
STEVE: Well, I'm listening here. And I'm thinking, Glenn. How would I think about this. This might be a good exercise for a lot of your listeners too. How would I think about this data if it were a gun that I was buying? Would I want the federal government to have a record of every gun, when the transaction was, so they knew where it was so they could go and find it? No, I don't want that. So I don't want -- neither do I want them to have it in their hands that data that would allow them to go in and do a complete examination of my activities. The same fashion I wouldn't want them to know if I had guns or where they would be for that matter. That does help I think clarify what we have here. Yet, I'm not worried that my gun dealer has those records in his hands. And I'm not worried if there's a crime if they come in and serve a warrant on my gun dealer and say, you can't buy a gun here. That's maybe the way to frame this so that people can understand it and so that we can come to a conclusion and an agreement.
GLENN: Do you believe the USA Freedom Act will do that?
STEVE: I think that it will do that because it ends government date collection. I think it leaves vulnerable because it doesn't have a provision that encourages the telecommunication companies to hold that data. So I think we're less safe. That's my bottom line. We're less safe, Glenn.
GLENN: Okay. So let me ask you -- do you believe that the government will actually stop? I mean, how do you build a 2 billion-dollar data collection place just outside of Salt Lake City and then shut it down? Do you believe they'll actually shut those things down?
STEVE: I think he's more likely to shut down Gitmo than he is that date collection place outside of Salt Lake.
GLENN: Yeah, it's not going to happen.
STEVE: No. And we're a year and a half of this president -- and I think for any president, that's a legitimate and a valid comment and concern. This one though has done more damage to our understanding of constitutional principles than any president we've ever had. And I'm looking for a president that will restore the soul of America, and that means repair and refurbish the pillars of American exceptionalism. And our Founding Fathers expected that when our president gave his oath of office, that he would abide by it. And that's the big flaw we have going on right now too.
GLENN: Can you give me the names of three people that you think are running that you think could do it? Three or one?
STEVE: You know, it's a little bit early in my process to answer that since I am from Iowa, anything I say affects the race a little bit.
GLENN: Yeah, okay. I'll let you slide.
STEVE: Five or six or seven of them, I'd put their names in a hat, draw one out, and gleefully say Mr. President. Then I draw the Vice President. The rest could be in the cabinet, Glenn. There's some good people out there.
GLENN: Wow. Yeah, there are. There are. I think this is the best selection of people that we've ever had, at least in my lifetime, I think. We've had some good candidates before, but there's a lot of good candidates. Thank you very much, Congressman. I really appreciate it.