King: NSA a 'totally phony issue'

The controversy surrounding the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs is “a totally phony issue,” according to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).

King made the comment to CNN while criticizing Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) comparison of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

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“For Sen. Paul to compare that patriot, Gen. Clapper, to someone like Snowden, who has put American lives at risk, Sen. Paul should be ashamed of himself,” King said during an appearance on CNN's “The Situation Room.”

“He disgraced his office and he owes Gen. Clapper an apology immediately,” King said.

He then commented on the report released this week recommending a number of reforms to the NSA, arguing such changes were not necessary.

“There is no NSA scandal,” King said. “This is a totally phony issue.”

Paul this week said that Clapper’s statements damaged the nation's intelligence community more than Snowden's leaks of millions of documents.

Clapper claimed in March during an appearance before Congress that the NSA was not storing data about Americans. When Snowden began leaking documents in June, some NSA critics said he had lied to Congress.

King rejected a letter some Republicans have signed calling for Clapper's resignation, and said signatories were “apologizing for America.”

“That comes from the isolationist wing of the party,” King said. “That is not the tradition of Ronald Reagan. It's the tradition of Charles Lindburgh and the radical, left-wing Democrats of the 1960s.”