so championed. George? Brian, thanks. Let's bring in mike rogers, thanks for joining us this morning. You saw in that piece, and in the president's press conference, he signaled he may be ready to... See More
so championed. George? Brian, thanks. Let's bring in mike rogers, thanks for joining us this morning. You saw in that piece, and in the president's press conference, he signaled he may be ready to scrape the phone collection record program. If he does, how hard will you fight? Can you prevail? Perspective is important here, george. If you think where we are and what the panel did, which is dominated by law professors, they basically said that the information is important, but where we keep it may be up for debate, that's a very important milestone for those who saw this as devastating to the nsa. I disagree. Basically, what they said, this information is a vital part of our counterterrorism effort. Keep americans safe. We just don't think that they should collect it in a very safe place, in a vault if you will, with the nsa, we think we should spread it back across the phone companies. Can you go along with that? Here's my concern. Privacy companies reject the notion that having the government mandate that the phone companies keep these records so that the government can access them is probably less safe than the configuration that we have, but here's the good news about that, george, now we're going to debate about how we have access to information, not names, not addresses, but numbers, so when a terrorist overseas calls into the united states, we have some ability to figure out who that is, that is what the debate is now. I think that puts us on much better ground, solid ground. They found no violations, no unlawful activity, no scandal, none of that was found in this report, but what they said is, maybe it shouldn't be with the government, mandated by the government that's held by the private companies. That's a very different debate and a debate that we should have. I'm reluctant, because I think it opens it up to more privacy violations. When the companies hold it. They don't have somebody directly controlling that information. That's not their job. Their job is to provide service. These are business records, not private records of content and so they're not listening to phone calls. I think, in that regard, a very important step to actually debating on the same set of data points. There's also the debate over the constitutionality. We saw that report from the federal judge, he's an appointee of george w. Bush. He says it's not constitutional. I want to read part of his opinion here. He said, I can't imagine an arbitrary invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval. Your response? Well, a couple of things, 16 federal judges, 36 different opinions, all have had a different opinion. Remember, no names, no addresses, just numbers, and these are business records, not your personal records, that's very, very different. There's been hundreds of appelle decisions reaffirming the government's right to get business records in the course of terror investigations or in this case, determining a terrorist from overseas is calling into the united states. So, this is one case when you have a huge volume, again, perspective is important. Yes, this one district judge that doesn't handle national security cases had a difference of opinion, that is our good system. But it is -- he set aside his own decision, likely to be overturned because of the sheer volume and body of federal judges who have already reviewed this, as early of last july, reaffirmed the fact that this program is legal. It does meet the constitutional test, it does meet the fourth amendment test and should continue in the face of the threats to the united states. How about this question, about amnesty for edward snowden? The senior analyst, we saw him on "60 minutes" this week, said it should be consider. Take a look. My personal view, yes, it's worth having a conversation about. I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could secured. It would be more than just an assertion on his part. Are you ready to engage in that conversation? Listen, I do think he should come home. I would personally pay for his plane ticket and be held accountable for his actions. Here's where he's crossed the line now, george, he has contacted a foreign country and said, I will sell you classified information for something of value. That's what we call -- you're talking about his open letter to brazil? Absolutely. He's traded something of value for his own personal gain that jeopardizes the national security of the united states. We call that treason and I think that letter -- I think very clearly, lays out who this gentleman is and what his intentions were clearly. He should come back. He didn't use any of the whistle blower protection avenues laid out before him. None. He went to the press. He went to bastion of internet freedom, china, and then russia, to lay claim, claims, by the way, this individual report dominated by law professors just said there was no scandal, no surveillance under the 215 program. Everything he's been saying has repudiated by this report. All of that we need to take into consideration. Finally, you warned that the foreign threat may be increasing again. Al qaeda on the rise again. They have targeted the christmas season. Do you have any more reason to be concerned right now, is the threat level going up around the holiday season? Any national holiday, like we would experience here, like christmas is something that we are concerned about, I don't think we see any other threat stream that's out of the norm, ad the reason we say that, there are more al qaeda affiliates from around the world, you have al shabaab now claiming some al qaeda affiliate -- all of these groups want to have -- they have the aspirations to commit acts of violence against westerners and the united states. We have more chances to miss something and we have just less opportunity not to pay attention to every single clue that we can find to make sure we protect the citizens of the united states. By the way, we can do that in a way that protects privacy and civil liberties. But you have to be arguing about the same set of data points. I hope that this report stops this inflammatory language of scandal. Some of the shortcomings of this report real quick, george, they didn't talk to the fbi when it came to section 215 for any length about the value of certain programs that they recommended against. And by the way, including 215, they never had a sit-down, long conversation with the fbi, who do these investigations. That's a shortcoming in this report. And we'll be talking about that in the days ahead. Some good things in this report. Some things that are concerning in this report. Recommendations of things that the government should do that they are already doing and the government shouldn't do that they're not doing. It crossed a very important milestone in saying, no scandal, no law-breaking, let's have an honest debate about where we think we ought to go in trying to stop terrorists from blowing up american citizens here in the united states. Mr. Chairman, thank you. Have a great christmas. You as well. Let's get a response now from senator mark udall,
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