Ron Paul on Monday weighed in on the Edward Snowden/National Security Agency leak scandal in a way that only he could.
Appearing on CNN's Piers Morgan Live, Paul said of Snowden, "I think the president ought to send him a thank you letter, because the president ran on transparency, and we're getting a lot of transparency now. So, finally we're getting the president to fulfill his promise about transparency" (video follows with transcript).
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Ron Paul is a former congressman and former presidential candidate. He's now chairman of the Campaign for Liberty. Ron Paul, thank you for joining me. You are a supporter of Edward Snowden and his actions. Why?
RON PAUL: Well, from what I hear and what he's done, I mean, he's done a great service because he's telling the truth and this is what we are starved for. The American people are starved for the truth. And when you have a dictatorship or an authoritarian government, truth becomes treasonous. And this is what they do. If you are a whistleblower or if you're trying to tell the American people that our country is destroying our rule of law and destroying our Constitution, they say they turn it on and say, “Oh, you're committing treason.”
So this is a big problem. And to expect any changes without an announcement like this, things keep getting worse. They've gotten worse steadily for the past ten years. So essentially there is no Fourth Amendment anymore. And for somebody to tell the American people the truth is a heroic effort. And he knows that it's very risky. He knows he's committing, you know, civil disobedience, and he knows that he could get punished. But he believes very sincerely, I'm sure, I've never met the man, but he believes very seriously that what our government is doing to us is so serious that somebody has to speak out.
And I think the large majority of the American people are sick and tired of hearing how many people are having surveillance on them, whether it's their phones, their internet, and e-mail and everything else. Matter of fact, I think the president ought to send him a thank you letter, because the president ran on transparency, and we're getting a lot of transparency now. So, finally we're getting the president to fulfill his promise about transparency. So that's pretty exciting for me, because I believe in transparency.
But we have our government turned on its head. The government is supposed to be open and we're supposed to have our privacy, but we don't have any privacy and the government's totally secret. And then they combine this with what they do with the IRS? Maybe that's how they line up their targets in the IRS. They modify, you know, they check on our phone calls and find out what kind of business deals we're doing so we can audit them and do all these kinds of things. It's just totally out of control.
A few minutes later:
MORGAN: I'm going to go to Ron Paul to put a different question to him. Ron Paul, if you had been president, which you could have been, you ran for office this time, and you could have won. If you had been president, are you in all seriousness telling me that you would have stopped all of this tracking of data in the way that the NSA has been doing it?
PAUL: An awful lot of it, but it wouldn't be stopped. You would still have your, you would, you would still have your transparency. I mean, you would still have your intelligence gathering, but it would be done under the law. You would have probable cause and you would have courts. This idea that you can go to the FISA court and get a warrant, that's ridiculous. That's like the monitoring of the president saying, “Oh, well we're going to pick and choose who we're going to assassinate, American citizen or not. But we have monitors, we're going to study this.” That's the rule of law? What he's doing is repealing the Magna Carta. You can’t just do these kind of things. And this one is not only repealing the principles of liberty, but it’s destroying the Constitution.
So my question should be, to all of you who defend this nonsense is, "What should the penalty be for the people who destroy the Constitution?" They're always worrying about how they're going to destroy the American citizens who tell the truth to let us know what's going on, but we ask the question, what is the penalty for the people who deliberately destroy the Constitution and rationalize and say, “Oh, we have to do it for security?” Well, you know what Franklin said about that: you end up losing, you lose your security and you lose your freedoms too.
So I think we've embarked on a very, very dangerous course. The American people are with us on this. It's totally out of control. And I would say if you're confused about what we should do, just read the Constitution. What's wrong with that? You know, that gives us pretty good guidelines. If you don't like it, get people to repeal it and change the Constitution, but not just to deny it.
I mean, we go to war without a declaration. We totally ignore the Constitution. That is what our problem is today. We have no rule of law, and people say, “Well, just let secret courts do this, and the government to know everything, and the American people to have no privacy.” I mean you're, that reflects an intimidation. People are insecure, and think that we need more authoritarianism. You're justifying dictatorship is what you're doing.