By Justin Sink - 08/18/13 02:48 PM EDT
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) unloaded on fellow Republican lawmaker Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) Sunday, accusing him of providing "a grab bag of misinformation and distortion" on the National Security Agency's top-secret surveillance programs.
In an appearance earlier on "Fox News Sunday," Paul accused the spy agency of "looking at billions of phone calls every day" and said the constitutionality of the programs should be evaluated by the Supreme Court.
But King, a defender of the surveillance program, said "this whole tone of 'snooping' and 'spying' that we use is horrible, I think — a distortion, a smear, a slander."
The Washington Post reported this week that the NSA broke privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times per year, and that the agency might have attempted to hide some instances where it did so.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized the agency following the disclosure, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calling the revelations "extremely disturbing."
But King said that the relatively low error rate was evidence that the programs "worked."
"If you have 99.99 percent compliance, and you have self-reporting errors. … I'm on the Intelligence Committee. I am satisfied that we are told what the NSA is doing."
The New York Republican did criticize President Obama, however, for not more vocally defending the surveillance programs.
"It's up to the president to come forward and defend it. … This is the president's program," King said. "The president of the United States should be much more aggressive in defending; he should be out there, and that's why a lot of these distortions by people like Rand Paul, who don't know what they're talking about, are allowed to take hold."
Before leaving for his weeklong vacation to Martha's Vineyard earlier this month, President Obama announced a series of new steps his administration would take to address concerns over the programs.
Obama said he would work with Congress to increase oversight on the program that reviews phone metadata, promote the role of a civil libertarian adversary in the process for obtaining a search warrant, and release new information about the legal rationale for the spying.
"It’s right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives,” Obama said. “It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well.”