Meet the Press   |  October 27, 2013

Rep. Peter King defends U.S. surveillance tactics

Republican Congressman King says the U.S. must have a strong surveillance program to ensure security.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now to republican congressman peter king . he's been an out spoken voice in the republican party on some of these foreign issues. congressman, welcome.

>> thank you very much.

>> let's talk about the spying. there is a view in some quarters. it's bringing together kind of the libertarian left and right saying the spying is under control. is it undercutting america's reliance on allies for cooperation on anything from economic reform to chasing terrorists? does it have to be reined in?

>> first of all, david, i think the president should stop apologizing and stop being defensive. the reality is the nsa has saved thousands of lives not just in the united states but in france, germany and throughout europe. the french is someone to talk. they carried out operations against the united states , the government and industry. as far as germany , that's where the hamburg plot began which led to 9/11. they've had dealings with iran and iraq, north korea , and the french and the germans in european countries . we're not doing it for the fun of it. this is to gather valuable intelligence which helps not just us but also helps the europeans.

>> but it's deep. we were apparently bugging angela merkel 's phone from the time she was an opposition leader in germany back in 2002 . again, i understand why this is done. i cover these issues, but i think a lot of people watching us right now are thinking, what is it we're doing? you mentioned the hamburg plot. we share intelligence with germany . they're allies in this fight, not someone to be looked at so skeptically.

>> first of all, we do share intelligence and we've saved many lives in germany because of the intelligence we've given them. we're not doing this to hurt germany , but the fact is there can be information that is transmitted that can be useful to us and ultimately useful to germany . i think, again, this is out there. snowden put it out there, and it bothers the hell out of me that people in my own party such as rand paul, justin amosh, people on the left, somehow they try to exult snowden. this guy is causing tremendous damage to the country, and we shouldn't be on defense. i think the president -- quite frankly, the nsa has done so much for our country and so much for the president, he's the commander in chief. he should stand with the nsa. he should be there with general alexander and the troops there.

>> why don't we have a bigger debate, then, in congress? we really haven't had a debate in congress since 2001 to say what's appropriate use of executive power , what's appropriate use of spying that goes on? drones came up this week in the collateral damage from drones. what are the powers the president should have to fight terrorism? it seems like congress doesn't really want to have that debate because they're afraid to do it because they don't want to look weak. finally, some are saying let's push the debate out into the open.

>> i'm not afraid of anything, but if we go too much into the open, then we let the enemy know what's going on and we create problems. the idea is we have to have a stronger fence, we have to have stronger spying, if you want to call it, stronger surveillance, and as far as the use of drones, the fact is every war there is collateral damage . unfortunately, innocent people are killed. but the efforts of the u.s. to protect innocent lives, i say, is unprecedented. you want to go back to hamburg and what happened in world war ii when thousands and thousands of civilians were killed, the fact is this has kept americans alive, it's also helped people in the mideast. i think we should stop being so worried about drones. tell them not to worry about people being killed by drones and starbuck's. the president goes to fort meade . he can find time to go to blasio, he can find time to go to fort meade .

>> what would you say to reassure the saudis and other sunni muslim regimes who believe that the u.s., by not doing enough on syria , by opening up talks with iran , are essentially turning their back on traditional alliances and em powering iran -- and again, it's important to point out the sunni-shiite split in the economic world are huge right now, and that's why the saudis are so concerned.

>> when the president apologized in 2009 with the way he was treating israel in 2009 and 2010 , and now with a terrible policy on syria , he went back and forth, led the allies in one direction, went another. i'm not apologizing for the saudis , but i understand how they're very distrustful of the president right now, i understand why israel is very distrustful. i think he's got to be firm, he's got to be consistent. what he did in syria was undefensible because it send so many mixed signals and caused people to lose faith in our country, which should be the wrong thing because we are still a pillar of strength in the country. but the president, again, is so apologetic, and by going overboard with iran and dismissing israel , he's sort of leaving the saudis out there and again, solely inconsistent. i think we'll look back on syria . the mixed signals he sends about syria over that two to three-week period will have lasting damage .

>> if in the end sitter yathe syrian regime are forced in the end without using military force , that debate should continue. i'm out of time right now. thank you.

>> thank you, david.