Rep. Peter King accused Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul Monday of creating "hysteria" and paranoia over the National Security Agency's data collection program by filing a lawsuit against the intelligence gathering agency.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," the New York Republican and former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said his GOP colleague shouldn't be suggesting to the American public that they are somehow being targeted for direct surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies.
"What Rand Paul's creating is hysteria," King charged. "[Paul's] creating paranoia among all Americans [that] the NSA is spying on everyone."
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Paul announced Friday he was filing a class-action lawsuit over the mass collection of cell phone data by the NSA. Saying that "potential for the abuse exists," Paul said he objects to data collection that includes "private matters," such as medical and lifestyle information.
King argued that neither Paul nor the advisory committee appointed by President Barack Obama to review the NSA spying policies could cite any abuses by the agency. He said Paul is using scare tactics in his claims about the NSA and has omitted from his argument that the NSA is not listening to phone calls. Instead, he said the tea party-backed Kentucky senator "creates this illusion that there's this spying going on."
"He is playing on some sort of libertarian scaremongering, isolationism. And, rather than using intelligence arguments, as people could well do, he is resorting to fear. He's appealing to the lowest common denominator," King charged.
King insisted the Obama administration is "carrying out the right policies" on the NSA. However, he said the president could do a better job himself of explaining the NSA policies, rather than sounding "apologetic in defending them."
"I think the president has to be more aggressive, because, otherwise, you have people like Rand Paul, and both Democrats and Republicans, somehow demonize the NSA and others who are carrying out the war [on terrorism] for us," he said.
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