Okay, thanks very much. And more from the two top officials in the senate, democrat dick durbin, republican saxby chambliss. And let me begin with you. You're the chair of the intelligence committee... See More
Okay, thanks very much. And more from the two top officials in the senate, democrat dick durbin, republican saxby chambliss. And let me begin with you. You're the chair of the intelligence committee right now. Would it surprise you if it turns out what he's reporting there is true, low level officials have the capability to read e-mails, internet traffic, listen to phone calls? George, it wouldn't just surprise me, it would shock me. I was at the nsa just last week. Spent a couple hours out there with high and low level nsa officials. What I have been assured of is there is no capability at nsa for anyone without a court order to listen to any telephone conversation or to monitor any e-mail. In fact we don't monitor e-mails. That's what kind of assures me that what the reporting is is not correct. Because no e-mails are monitored now. They used to be, but that stopped two or three years ago. So I feel confident that -- that there may have been some abuse, but if it was, it was pure accidental. Senator, do you agree with that, and second, talk about the vote referenced, the close vote in the house this week where the nsa collection program survived, but democratic colleagues are pushing to end it in the senate as well. Where do you stand on that? This was an amazing vote. We came within six votes of challenging an intelligence operation. That doesn't happen, hardly at all. It's an indication of a healthy democracy where the oversight of congress on even security issues is important. The last time I called this same issue for a vote, an amendment i offered the senator judiciary committee, senator mike lee, republican of utah and i co-sponsored it, only one other senator joined us. It's clear the sentiment is increasing for oversight. And I think with the efforts by senators wyden and udall and americaly is going to increase that effort for oversight. That's a healthy thing. Will you vote for that amendment? Yes, I will. I sponsored it. I believe we should limit the meta data collection. The notion we're going to collect phone records of everyone in an area code on the off chance someone may be a suspect at a later time goes way too far. And there should be another step, the fisa courts, there should be a real court proceeding. In this case, it's fixed in a way, it's loaded. There's only one case coming before the fisa court. The government's case. Let's have an advocate for someone standing up for civil liberties to speak up about the privacy of americans when they make the decisions, and release some of the transcripts, carefully redacted so people understand the debate in the courts. Senator chambliss, the supports seems to be growing to end it from the democratic side. Can you defeat the amendment, number one, and number two, what kind of reforms can you support? Well, certainly it's good to have a healthy debate on this issue, george. I agree with dick that the count of oversight is absolutely necessary. We have got oversight of this program, both by the department of justice, by nsa, by the fisa court, by the intelligence committees, by the judiciary committee. There is no other program in the intelligence community that has as much oversight as this one, because people deserve to have their privacy protected. And I do think that we're going to have to make some changes to make things more transparent. Whether we should go as far as what dick's alluded to, I'm not sure what that jeopardizes as a program. Let's don't forget, we have got to reach the right kind of balance between protecting americans and giving 100% protection on the privacy side. We should never invade any american citizen's previous. But we've also got a responsibility as policy-makers to make sure that our intelligence community and our law enforcement community has the tools with which to provide the kind of protection that we've had since 9/11. If we'd had this program pre-9/11, we know there's a good chance we would have intercepted the phone calls between one of the 9/11 hijackers in san diego and a safe house he was calling in yemen. And we were monitoring the safe house, but we weren't monitoring the calls coming out of the united states, section 215 would have picked those phone calls up. Who knows what might not have happened on 9/11 if that had been the case. I want to get to another story breaking over the weekend, the violence in egypt. Up to 80 people dead after the military cracked down on protesters in the muslim brotherhood. Senator durbin, is it time for the administration to take a tougher tack now with the military regime? Maybe threaten more penalties or economic sanctions? This is a delicate time in egypt. Clearly they are searching for leadership and stability. The eventsr the weekend don't help at all. We've had a positive relationship between the united states and the egyptian military, I want to maintain that, but we should make it clear in egypt as we made it clear in libya and syria, that firing on your own people is unacceptable by any government. And in this situation, if it's established this came from government sources, it appears it did, we have to make it clear that's unacceptable conduct. Senator chambliss? It's further proof, george, that going from a dictatorship to a democracy is very, very hard. And we do need to make sure that there is some sort of peaceful stability in egypt. Exactly what the role of the united states should be there is difficult to determine. They have been our alley for decades. And here all of a sudden we are seeing a move in the right direction, a move towards democracy. But we have got to be careful we don't inject ourselves too much into the situation, it will make it worse. We need to send a clear and strong message to the egyptian military that we're not going to tolerate from a friendly-nation relationship standpoint the kind of violence that we saw over the weekend. But it is a very, very delicate, sensitive situation that's ongoing there. Senator chambliss, senator durbin, thank you for your time
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