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Peter King: Obama allowing Rand Paul to 'demonize the NSA'

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Monday that President Obama needed to be "more aggressive" in defending National Security Agency surveillance programs, complaining that his "apologetic" tone had opened the door for critics like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to "demonize the NSA."

"On drones, on the NSA, the president basically is carrying out the right policies but he sounds apologetic in defending them," King said during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"For instance he's talking about making reforms in the NSA but doesn't say why. If the policies are working effectively, you know, why should certain reforms be made?"

Obama spent his winter vacation reviewing a report commissioned by the White House that recommends dozens of steps the administration could take to increase transparency or impose limits on the nation’s intelligence programs.

Among the recommendations are ending the NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records, additional scrutiny when the decision is made to surveil foreign leaders, and new safeguards requiring the administration to obtain judicial approval before reviewing citizen’s financial or phone records.

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White House officials have said the president will announce which of the recommendations he will undertake in a speech later this month. But on Monday, King argued that the president "has to be more aggressive" in defending the programs.

"Otherwise you have people — Rand Paul and both Democrats and Republicans — who somehow demonize the NSA and others who are carrying out the work for us," he said. "And people forget 9/11, it's a long time ago and they don't realize that in many ways, Al Qaida and its affiliates is dangerous, if not more so today, than they were on September 11, 2001."

King made waves over the weekend when he blasted Paul over the Kentucky lawmaker's threat to sue the Obama administration over the NSA surveillance programs.

“Rand Paul does not know what he’s talking about. And, Rand Paul is really spreading fear among the American people," King told Fox News. “To me, he’s either totally uninformed or he’s part of that hate America crowd that I thought left us in the 1960s."

"In any event, he doesn’t deserve to be in the United States Senate for spreading that type of misperception and absolute lies to be honest with you," King added.

Paul defended the proposed class-action lawsuit in an interview with ABC News on Sunday.

"I think the idea of a class-action lawsuit with hundreds of thousands of participants really beats home and brings to the forefront the idea that this is a generalized warrant and it should be considered unconstitutional," Paul said.