Retired Congressman Ron Paul discusses the unsurprising revelations of massive government spying on Americans; why “truth is treason in an empire of lies;” the Republican leadership’s support for Obama’s spying programs; Rand Paul’s 4th Amendment Restoration Act and class action lawsuit; and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
Scott Horton Interviews Ron Paul
The Scott Horton Show
June 10, 2013Â
TranscriptÂ (scroll down for audio)
Scott Horton:Â All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. I’m Scott Horton. It’s The Scott Horton Show, live here from 11 to 1 Texas time at scotthorton.org and noagendastream.com weekdays. And our next guest is Dr. Ron Paul. He’s the author of A Foreign Policy of Freedom and also some other accomplishments you might have heard of. He was a congressman for a while I think and he’s got an article today at antiwar.com that is called ‘Government Spying: Should We Be Shocked?‘ Welcome back to the show, Dr. Paul. How are you doing?
Ron Paul:Â Doing fine. Nice to be with you.
Scott Horton:Â Very good to have you here, sir. So, the big news of course from the end of last week and now into this one is all of Glenn Greenwald’s revelations at The Guardian about National Security Agency spying, and one of the big things to come out of — well, the whistleblower has gone ahead and come forward after the first three big stories, and his name is Edward Snowden and it turns out he’s a Ron Paulian of some kind, donated to your campaign in 2012. What do you make of that?
Ron Paul:Â I haven’t thought a whole lot about it, but I guess his concern about privacy is the same as mine, that he resents it and sees that people who do things like that are defying the Constitution and are not representing our liberty, so I guess it shouldn’t shock anybody that he would be a libertarian-leaning type individual.
Scott Horton:Â And do you approve of this type of whistleblowing in general? What do you think of what’s going on here?
Ron Paul:Â Well, of course, you know, what we want is the truth. You know, everybody should say yes, we do want the truth, but a totalitarian and authoritarian, when they’re in charge, that’s the last thing they want. They want secrecy. In a free society you’re supposed to have a Constitution designed to have the government protect our privacy and our liberties, not the secrecy of government, but when the government gets too big and becomes more authoritarian, then that government wants to hide the truth. They do everything possible. And that is the reason that I’ve made the statement that truth is treason in an empire of lies. So here these individuals who come along and tell us the truth, of course they do break the law and they’re practicing civil disobedience and it’s very, very risky, but who becomes treasonous? The people who defy our Constitution, undermine our Constitution, throw it out and not protect our privacy? No, the person who’s accused of treason are the ones who are telling the truth. And right now, of course, we have a CIA agent that’s in prison because he told us the truth about torture, you know, about Guantanamo torture and revealed this. But to deny that information to the people is what I think is so dangerous. So I think the bigger question is not what should the penalty be for Snowden as much as what should the penalty be for people who take an oath to obey the Constitution and do the exact opposite?
Scott Horton:Â Right. It’s amazing, isn’t it, the way that they try to conflate whistleblowing with espionage. And they say, ‘Well, you know, if you say something classified to the New York Times and Zawahiri can read that hiding out in his mom’s basement in Pakistan somewhere, then you’re providing aid and comfort to the enemy.’
Ron Paul:Â Yeah. And that of course is just, you know, the demagoguery of it all, because they want to paint those of us who want to protect the Constitution and protect the Fourth Amendment, we are then said to be the bad guys. So they turn around and demagogue it and say, ‘Oh, he’s cavorting with the enemy, and he’s supplying information to the enemy.’ But this is quite a bit different than what we saw in World War II when we had our government was filled with spies and they would take secret information about, you know, nuclear weapons and turn them over to avowed enemies like the Soviets and actually benefit materially from that. That is quite a bit different than somebody telling the truth about our own government when it gets out of control.
Scott Horton:Â Well, and just how out of control is this? I mean, I guess it’s shocking but not surprising is basically the message here.
Ron Paul:Â Well I think it keeps getting worse. I don’t know if you saw that little clip somebody found the other day on a speech I gave in 1984 —
Scott Horton:Â Yeah.
Ron Paul:Â — expressing concerns — hey, we better watch out, this thing could get out of control. In the same way, even in these past 10 years, I don’t think something dramatic has happened under Obama in the last year or two that all of a sudden these programs have gotten out of hand. Because they were started with the Republicans and they were started, you know, under Bush, and they continue — just because we don’t hear about them doesn’t mean that they weren’t existing. I think it’s steady. I think it’s steady growth, and the worse things get, the more they’ll do it. Whether our foreign policy deteriorates or our monetary policy deteriorates, the greater the power goes to those individuals who want to control things, and of course the more powerful a government, the more secrecy they want, because they’re afraid to be revealed.
So once they reveal what’s happening, they might be challenged, so they have to then play the patriot card and say, ‘Oh, well, you’re not patriotic. You’re un-American.’ Remember how much they said about my foreign policy. You know, ‘He doesn’t care bout the troops. He’s un-American.’ You know, and this is just to try to destroy that person who is giving us the information. And that of course is what they’re doing right now with Snowden is just to say that, you know, ‘He’s the bad guy.’
And some of the statements — you know what I get a real charge out of, in a way, I mean it’s so weird, is the Republicans want power and generally they’ll say and do anything for power. They want to put Obama on the ropes, and they finally get something—Â And I think it’s great that a large majority of American people say, ‘Hey, he’s gone too far. I mean, he doesn’t care about the Fourth Amendment. He’s snooping on all of us. He’s spying on all of us. This is over the limit.’ And then we have the Republican leadership come and say, ‘Hey, you know, this is good. We endorse this.’ You know, as if they were handed a great issue and they say, ‘Oh, no, we started this under George Bush and this stuff is good. We have to do this. We have to have national defense. And if you don’t do this that means you’re un-American and you’re not patriotic.’
Scott Horton:Â Yeah, I saw Bill Kristol saying, ‘Hey, we shouldn’t conflate the IRS scandal with the NSA scandal,’ even though the NSA scandal is a million times worse, you know?
Ron Paul:Â Yeah. Yeah. He’s one of those Republican leaders that want to… People don’t refer to him as that, but he’s the one that’s been behind the Cheney and the Bush operation and all the foreign policy — but of course they have a lot of influence obviously in both parties, because foreign policy really hasn’t changed. This is why this is shocking to the progressives, and this is a wake-up call for progressives, and I think this is good.
But it’s sort of disgusting to see Republicans defending Obama when they finally get him on the ropes and catch him doing some of the things that are wrong and that could be used, you know, in a political way of trying to challenge him. But, no, it becomes totally neutralized. Which makes my point that foreign policy, you know, never changes. So when Obama gets into a little trouble, what happens? A lot of Republicans come to his rescue and say, ‘Hey, no that’s okay, we believe in this, we don’t want our foreign policy to be undermined because this is so necessary.’
Scott Horton:Â Right. Well, yeah, during the campaign Obama and Romney both bragged about how they were learning foreign policy by reading Robert Kagan’s new book, Bill Kristol’s co-author of benevolent global hegemony and all the rest of that stuff. Obama proudly claimed it. So there you go.
Ron Paul:Â Yeah.
Scott Horton:Â And now, so Snowden in his interview with Glenn Greenwald said that his biggest fear is that nothing will change of this, and yet immediately your son Rand, Senator Rand Paul, came out and said, ‘Oh, yeah? Well I’m introducing the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act, and I’m suing too, and — ‘ he wants it to be a class action lawsuit. He wants, what, 10,000 people to join up to help him sue the government over this.
Ron Paul:Â And I wish him well. I’m not sure, you know, who’s right on this, whether Snowden will be right or Rand will achieve what he wants to achieve. Because, you know it is so difficult, and you know, for instance, before we went into Iraq, most of the Americans, 80% of the Americans were, ‘No, we don’t need to do this. We don’t need to do this.’ And yet after the war propagandists are out there and the media pounds away, all of a sudden they can change attitudes. So, you know, the people right now are riled up and that’s great, but are they going to be there, are they going to change the congressmen and their senators because they, you know, haven’t supported their position? No, this may settle down and not much will happen. But I’m hoping it does, it does change policy. That’s the thing that really counts is will the policies be changed?
And even, you know, court fights and all, most of the time they don’t achieve, you know, a court victory to change things, but they’re great in calling attention to the problems out there.
And I remember one time I was outraged by Reagan and the Senate passing a tax bill that wasn’t written in the House at all, it was written in the Senate. And we went into court and the court says, ‘Oh, no, you have no standing. You have no rights. Just because, you know, just because the Senate overrode the House, you have no standing. You can’t complain about this.’ So the case was just thrown out of court.
Scott Horton:Â That’s funny.
Ron Paul:Â So what kind of judge is going to really give us a fair hearing? That’s the big question. But —
Scott Horton:Â Especially something like that where that’s just black and white words in the Constitution itself that bills like that must originate in the House. Of course you have standing.
Ron Paul:Â Yeah. That’s the problem. So. But I think it’s public, it’s a PR fight. You’ve got to get a consensus, and this is what I think is shifting now, you know, in the last five to six, seven years. There’s been a shift in attitude toward monetary policy and the Federal Reserve and now on privacy. I think this is great. The American people are tireder of the wars now. Matter of fact, I think one of the reasons the Republicans did badly in ’08 was they were tired of the wars. But now they’re getting tired of Obama and his war against American citizens and their civil liberties, and people say, ‘Oh, this is devastating.’ No, they need to know the truth, and that’s the most important thing. People will not act if they don’t hear the truth. But it gets very tricky if you tell the truth and you end up being accused of being a traitor. And that’s what’s going to happen, of course, to the many whistleblowers as they take great risks in doing this.
Scott Horton:Â All right, now. Over at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, they’ve been doing a lot of really great work criticizing American policy toward Syria, and I wonder what you make of the fight going on inside the halls of power over what to do there when people like Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski and some of the most powerful, kind of, I guess they’d call them graybeards of American establishment foreign policy or whatever, they’re saying ‘Stay out, it could be worse, let’s not make it worse,’ and that kind of thing, and yet there’s constant pressure always to intervene too, and, ‘Innocent people are dying and somebody’s got to do something, and we’re somebody and we can do something.’ And I just wonder, what do you make of it all? What side is John McCain on? What side is America on? Where do we go from here?
Ron Paul:Â All I know is if we lose this argument and we expand and go in there and start bombing and get troops involved, and we let McCain and Graham win this argument, that doesn’t say much about us, you know, who are arguing the opposite. We must not be doing a very good job of presenting our case. And our tools are more available now than they used to be. It used to be if you didn’t get on the top three TV stations, you didn’t have a voice, but today we do have a voice. How many people watched Snowden on his video? Millions and millions of people. So if we lose this, you know, it would be sad to think that McCain and Graham win it and their policies are so ridiculous to go in there and help the Al Qaeda. This argument, you know, about humanitarian concerns, well, that’s an argument only, that isn’t the reason they want to do it, because the record shows that every time we go in there, you know, we send off missiles for humanitarian reasons to kill the bad guys and yet thousands and thousands of innocent civilians get killed, and that incites more Al Qaeda. It makes no sense, and yet they keep doing the same thing over and over again.
Scott Horton:Â Yep. All right, now, can you tell us real quick before I let you go, can you give us a word about the Ron Paul Institute? I know the URL is ronpaulinstitute.org.
Ron Paul:Â Well, we’re real happy with that, and it’s just early stories. It’s been a couple months and it’s going to expand and grow. And I guess the one thing I can tell you that I am pleased with, I thought that it wouldn’t be quite as easy to get people excited about it and people actually send some money in to help us out as it would be to talk about economics and recessions and the Federal Reserve and the United Nations and things like that, but we’ve had a pretty good response and we’ve barely started. So we’re hoping that we can have a real impact, and I think Daniel McAdams, who did my foreign policy, you know, in the congressional office for years, and he’s heading this up, and I have a lot of respect for his ability, so I’m really looking forward to us having an impact, and so hopefully some good will come of it.
Scott Horton:Â Yeah, well I sure have got it bookmarked, and Dan McAdams is great on pretty much everything that I can think of anyway, and he’s been way out ahead on this so-called revolution in Syria for, you know, two and half years now as well, so that definitely speaks well of the whole project. Okay, well, listen, I’ll let you go, but I want to thank you very much again for your time, Ron. It’s great to talk to you again.
Ron Paul:Â Okay, Scott. Bye bye.
Scott Horton:Â All right, everybody, that is the great Dr. Ron Paul, American hero, author of The Revolution: A Manifesto and his great collection of speeches going back to the late ‘70s, early ‘80s called A Foreign Policy of Freedom. You’ve got to read it. It’s so good. And then of course End the Fed, which is a great case against central banking, and on and on and on, you know. He’s the heroic Dr. Ron Paul at the Ron Paul Institute now, ronpaulinstitute.org, the Institute for Peace and Prosperity. What a great name for an institute, if you’re going to have an institute named after you, right?