By Molly K. Hooper - 12/22/13 01:00 PM EST
A high-ranking House Republican on Sunday attacked President Obama for failing to defend the National Security Agency in the wake of massive leaks on the spy agency's activities.
"I wish the president would step forward and defend the NSA. What he says is, he says ‘no abuse, the intelligence is absolutely necessary.’ But then he says we have to reform it. What does he want to reform if it’s working?” the New York lawmaker asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press."
King, the former head of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that the agency did not abuse its authority – some of which was granted by Obama, himself.
He was particularly upset that the government may reform its surveillance program based on the leaks of the intelligence community’s operations by “defector” and “traitor” Edward Snowden.
Asked if the NSA was collapsing or if it will be around in the future with the same powers, King responded “if it doesn’t, it will be calamitous for the country … this is all a debate generated by the hysteria caused by Edward Snowden and why we’re listening to him is beyond me,” King said.
The New York Republican opposes reigning in the NSA’s ability to “stockpile” the metadata.
“What are we to reign in? There has not been one abuse cited, and the president said that himself – so, we’re talking about something that doesn’t exist,” King said.
Asked to respond to the potential for abusing its authority, King launched into a vigorous defense of the NSA.
“Well, they have not done it because they are monitored by the courts, monitored by the Justice Department, every time you give a police [officer] a gun he could abuse his authority but we don’t disarm our police, so we should not be disarming the NSA,” King said.