Senate Showdown Over NSA Surveillance

Former White House counter-terrorism adviser Dick Clarke on the ramifications of ending parts of the Patriot Act.
2:54 | 05/31/15

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Transcript for Senate Showdown Over NSA Surveillance
We'll switch gears now to that dramatic showdown over the patriot act, playing out this afternoon in an emergency session. Where Rand Paul. That program will end at midnight if the senate doesn't act. President Obama this morning. Heaven forbid, we got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack but we didn't do so simply because of inaction in the senate. Let's bring in Richard Clarke now. Counterterrorism adviser to three presidents. Richard, thanks for joining us this morning. We just heard that warning from president Obama, but you actually served on president Obama's panel that reviewed the NSA's surveillance program. Essentially concluded that it wasn't necessarily, so is the president being a bit alarmist here, what's really at stake? No. What the president is saying that he's willing to give up this program, where every call to and from information is recorded and kept by the government. He's willing to give that up, because we found that it did little or no value. Had little or no value. But, if the bill expires altogether, if the patriot acts expires altogether, there are other investigative tools, the lone wolf authority, for example, the roving wiretap authority, that will go away as well. That will probably happen tonight. How serious would that be? Well, it depends on how long it goes on. What I think will happen tonight is, the law will expire and then later in the week, the usa freedom act, that act will pass and most of the authorities will be restored. So, we're likely to be faced with only a few days where the FBI won't have a handful of tools that frankly they don't often use. They don't use them that often, what does it mean when you have that window that's likely to be there for three days? Probably not much, because the FBI does have other authorities. They can go to the intelligence court and get a warrant if they have probable cause. They can go to any U.S. Court and get a search warrant under the criminal authorities. So, it probably is not as big a deal as the president is making out. On the other hand the patriot act authority which is going to expire is certainly not a big a deal that senator Mcconnell is making out. Of course, you can never predict congress. Should also take the opportunity to congratulate you on your new book "Pinnacle event." A great beach read. Look forward to Reading it. Thank you, Richard, for joining us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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