Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar are both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and therefore are as plugged in as anybody when it comes to matters pertaining to the NSA, FISA, and Patriot Act.
And in recent interviews, both have spoken out in defense of the NSA's controversial phone and internet communications monitoring programs, citing the role they say the programs have already played in preventing terrorist attacks.
[jump] Here's a transcript of what Klobuchar had to say about the NSA leaks during a recent interview with Politico:
I think, first of all, we all know after what happened on 9/11 that we needed to revamp our programs of our national intelligence, our national security. There were silos everywhere. Information wasn't being spread. If you look back at that time and you think about the dismay that people had when they realized some of this information had come in.Klobuchar was also asked whether she thinks NSA leaker Edward Snowden should be prosecuted.
I'm from Minnesota, and we actually caught one of the guys there -- the only guy who was caught early, Moussaoui -- and in fact none of that had really been passed on to the right people to figure out that maybe something was going on here. So that's just one example and where I come from when I look at this.
On the other hand, I've always believed that we have to balance -- this as a prosecutor -- we have to balance security, and we have to balance privacy. That's why I've actually supported things that I'd like to see part of this in the future. A shorter time period for reauthorization of the FISA bill, so that we're able to actually look at these things more quickly so that things come up, the world changes, sophisticated technology [is] added, and Congress should have more oversight by looking at it more quickly. This would be an example of that.
Secondly, I think we should wherever possible make public some of the underlying orders, the legal opinions, and I voted for Senator Merkley's provision on that.
All that being said, I think the American people are going to have to step back a little and look at the facts here. It appears from what we know so far that the NSA, for American citizens, was not looking at the content of these phone calls. They were not even looking at the identity of who was making the phone calls. They were simply getting humongous databases and then with court permission would go in and check certain numbers to see if they matched the calls that were being made. And I think that has to come out.
And I know there has been one hearing already. We're going to be doing an FBI oversight hearing in Judiciary and the more we can get this information out so the American people can truly look at this, I think there will be more credibility for this program.
I think that what people are most concerned about, what I'd be concerned about, what anyone would, is if people are reading your content. And that's we have to make very clear, are there enough rules in place so that nobody is reading the content, so that nobody is identifying innocent people who are making calls? I think that's what people are most focused on. So their employers aren't getting the information, so that people they know in their families aren't getting the information. I think that's what's really the trigger here and we have to make sure -- the reason to have oversight here is to make sure, how safe is this information? So that none of it, this big metadata, is not going out there. Because right now it's simply numbers that they check numbers against.
And I think they've been able to show, and I hope we hear more about this once they can declassify some of this, that dozens of terrorist -- potential terrorist attacks -- were averted because of this. They are oftentimes looking for a needle in a haystack, and this is one way they can do it without listening in on people's conversations.
"If he broke laws then he should be prosecuted, and that's how I look at the world," she said. "They have to look and see what he did here, but to me, it seems like he had some obligations and signed some contracts of what he wasn't going to reveal, but we dont know every fact yet."
To watch the entirety of Klobuchar's Politico interview, click to page two.