Rand Paul: "I'd put Clapper and Snowden in the same jail cell"


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During a recent interview with Reason magazine Editor in Chief Matt Welch, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) discussed his thoughts on Edward Snowden and how a Paul presidency would handle the NSA whistleblower's return.

Go here for the full interview.

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Approx. 2.30 minutes.

Edited by Todd Krainin. Cameras by Joshua Swain and Meredith Bragg.

This is a rush transcript. All quotes should be checked against the audio for accuracy.

Reason: If on the day after inauguration, you get a phone call and it's Edward Snowden saying, "Alright, I'm ready to come back," what are you going to do?

Rand Paul: You know, I think justice is about making punishment proportional to the crime. And I think his intentions were to reveal something that he felt like the people in government were lying about. And it turns out they were lying.  

The director of national intelligence committed perjury in front of the Senate committee. My understanding is it's about a five-year sentence, but instead of getting any kind of sentence, instead of getting a slap on the wrist, or instead of even being fired, he's been rewarded, and he's still in charge of intelligence. And I think he's done a great deal to damage trust. 

On the other side of the coin, can you let people who have sensitive data just make the decision to reveal it to the world? I think you have to have laws against that. So I think there have to be laws against what Snowden did. Did he do it for a higher purpose? Does he have a high moral ground? All of that I think history will judge. But I've sort of tongue-in-cheek said that if I had the choice, I'd put Clapper and Snowden in the same jail cell for about the same period of time. That's not a serious question, but I think it'd be an interesting debate they might have about liberty versus security.

Reason: I guess the question is, would you put a microphone in there?

Rand Paul: No, but they probably could have a reality jail-cell show and that'd probably be a best seller. 

No, I think that there has to be some punishment, but I think the other side's been crazy over the top with people who say they want to shoot Snowden, or they want to hang him….I think that one of the things we've tried to promote is a reform that would make things different. Snowden has said he would have tried official channels to reveal this to someone officially, but that the whistleblower statute doesn't apply to contractors. So I actually have an amendment that would try to make that so. So if you're a contractor doing business with an intelligence agency and you find that they're breaking the law—and interestingly, the courts have now said the NSA is breaking the law. It's my other pet peeve with the president on this whole thing. The president accuses me of getting in the way of reform, and it's like, "You could've stopped the program any time you wanted. You did it through executive order, and you're doing it through executive action. We never told you to do this program. In fact, even the authors of the Patriot Act say they never intended to give you this power, and yet you won't stop it until we actually affirmatively tell you to stop it." So I think the president's not quite sincere wanting real reform.