WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has previously called for an investigation into the National Security Agency's activities, slammed "phony conservatives" for making the recent NSA scandals into an issue on Sunday.
"There are a lot of conservatives, and some of them are phony, quite frankly, trying to use this as an issue, saying we are going to do away with the NSA and all that," Inhofe said on Aaron Klein's radio show on WABC in an interview that will air on Sunday night. "Well, since I am the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee I have to look at this very seriously to see what function the NSA is performing."
Despite excoriating other conservatives for inflating the threat posed by the agency, Inhofe still called for greater checks on the NSA's power, accusing the Obama administration of having allowed the agency to break the law.
"So we have to have that capability [to stop terrorism], but we have to make sure that the NSA people in this Obama administration are not in a position where they can just merely say, 'Well we cannot do that because we will break a law,' since we know that wont make any difference to them," Inhofe said. "So we are now faced with a situation where we know if you set up something where legally the NSA has to follow the guidelines, has to comply with the law, that doesn't work. Because those guys are breaking the law."
"I just have to admit right off the bat I don't trust anyone in the Obama administration, particularly on gathering information," Inhofe said.
The NSA should not be able to access the content of people's communications, Inhofe said.
"What you have to do is change this so that they cannot have access to the conversations," he said. "The intent of this has always been to establish contacts, not content. In other words, we want to be able to have the ability to go after known terrorists, primarily overseas. And they should be restricted in what kinds of calls they can use for contact information."
"We know, and I know a lot of people in the town hall meetings get very angry when you talk about classified information," Inhofe said. "But there are many cases where we have been able to effectively stop terrorist activity that would have killed perhaps many, many, many thousands of people in this country."
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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