Rep. Tim Huelskamp tells Newsmax that revelations about the government's surveillance operations are "astonishing" — and calls the federal government "Big Brother."
The Kansas Republican also says it is "pretty evident" that Attorney General Eric Holder and people at the IRS have lied to Congress.
Rep. Huelskamp was first elected in 2010 and ran unopposed in 2012. He is a member of the Tea Party Caucus.
Members of Congress as well as ordinary citizens have been stunned by disclosures about a secret government intelligence operation targeting millions of Americans' phone, email, and Internet records as a tool to fight terrorism.
"There are things going on here that are particularly worrisome," Huelskamp says in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Friday.
"This is not targeted to suspected terrorists, this is anybody who uses the phone in this country or uses YouTube or Apple or Skype.
"You know as we speak here there's a record being made somewhere in Washington that we actually called one another on this phone line. That has never been indicated to me, and most of my colleagues are probably completely unaware that the administration was engaged in this type of monitoring of American citizens.
"It is shocking that we're relying on media sources for this to be released – a British newspaper and now finally some newspapers here in this country.
"There are some folks that are claiming they were fully aware in Congress that this was going on. I was not one of them. I certainly would not have voted for the Patriot Act knowing they were pulling down hundreds of millions of phone records and categorizing and keeping them somewhere in Washington, D.C.
"I don't trust them with the information. They've got a long history of leaking data as indicated by these news reports. So we will have a closed door session with the NSA and other folks on Monday and hopefully we'll start getting some answers on this, but this is astonishing and this has never been revealed to me or most members of Congress."
Asked about the "leaking," Huelskamp says: "Data in the federal government has been notoriously open to hacking. I serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee. We just discovered earlier this week that up to 20 million private medical and financial data records of veterans in this country have been hacked, potentially by a Chinese-related company.
"These are the same folks that are supposedly protecting all of our telephone records that they have taken without permission and without warrant, we believe. So I'm worried about them having that information — number one, what are they going to do with it, but also who else might access that information when you have a government that can't even protect records of veterans?"
The Department of Homeland Security "was supposedly watching the data at the VA and we know that they don't know what they've lost. We know Chinese hackers went inside the system. I just say that Americans are very upset that the federal government, Washington, Big Brother, can come in here and take a look at all their phone records.
"I am a Verizon customer. I am outraged. And I'll bet you it's going on with every other company. But we don't know. We should know. Lawmakers like myself should be informed before they say, hey, we authorized the Patriot Act so we could continue to take this data.
"It's potentially unconstitutional, it's certainly illegal.
"I sent a letter together with [Michigan Rep.] Justin Amash and 18 other colleagues. We're trying to get answers. We say we need these answers right away. We don't know what we don't know. We don't know what the administration is hiding from us. We don't know what members of the Intelligence Committee, what they really knew.
"I don't trust these folks in this administration, but then again this has been going on for multiple years and it's shocking that Big Brother's tracking millions, hundreds of millions literally of phone calls and Internet records.
"Together with the IRS scandals, together with the Health and Human Services scandals, together with every one of these scandals, we see Americans continuing to understand why exactly they just distrust Washington."
Huelskamp has pointed out that the administration's tactics are in stark contrast to what we heard from candidate Obama about civil liberties. He was asked if things that Obama has learned since taking office have changed his mind, or was he being disingenuous during his campaign.
"He has been disingenuous on so many other things," Huelskamp responds. I do not trust him. I know many of my colleagues that do not trust anything. When you verify that they're telling you false statements, you can't trust anything.
"That's why you've got to swear every witness in from this administration and hold them accountable because they will mislead if not lie to Congress. It's pretty evident Mr. Holder did that. It's pretty evident folks at the IRS have done that. It's pretty evident [White House press secretary Jay] Mr. Carney does that on a regular basis."
Asked if he means "lie" or "mislead," Huelskamp tells Newsmax: "It looks like they have lied based on the data.
"This administration will do anything but answer. Right now they're trying to confuse and misdirect."
Huelskamp adds: "Somebody on the inside, thank goodness, has finally stood up as a whistleblower and said what's going on here.
"This goes, apparently, well beyond anything authorized by Congress. I don’t care if the chairman of the Intelligence Committee says it's a good thing. If it's not authorized, it's illegal."
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