Former Reagan security adviser turns on NSA phone spying [VIDEO]

Brendan Bordelon Contributor
Font Size:

Reagan-era defense official KT McFarland told Fox News on Tuesday she’s “come full circle” on her previous support for the National Security Agency’s phone spying program, claiming she’s now worried no safeguards exist “to prevent the [future] abuse of power.”

McFarland, a Fox News national security analyst, spoke with Fox’s Alisyn Camerota about a Monday ruling from federal Judge Richard Leon, who claimed the NSA’s metadata collection program was likely unconstitutional. (RELATED: In massive blow to NSA, judge says phone spying likely unconstitutional)

She said that she met last week with the NSA director, General Keith Alexander, who defended the program.

McFarland has defended the program since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden first exposed it back in June.

“They’re not listening into conversations,” she said, based on her conversation with Alexander. “What they’re doing is making note of who calls whom.”

When pressed, McFarland admitted her view of the NSA’s surveillance activities was starting to sour:

CAMEROTA: But wasn’t it interesting, KT, that the judge in this case concluded in his 68-page opinion, he said, “The government did not cite a single incident in which the program stopped an imminent terrorist threat.” Now that’s different —

MCFARLAND: That is different.

CAMEROTA: — than what the head of the NSA has said.

MCFARLAND: And we don’t know, because all of those documents are highly classified and secret. I guess — you know, Ali, I have come full circle on this. When it first starting breaking that the NSA was listening in on the phone records, or keeping phone records, I thought, “Look, they are only doing their job. I’m not gonna believe the critics who are saying, ‘Oh, you know, this is an abuse of power.'” But I must say, after seeing the breadth and scope of what the NSA is collecting, and the fact that maybe now they’re only collecting the fact that I called you and you called Bill — what about in the future? Are they going to collect the content of our conversation without having to get a court order?

Now maybe everything is above-board and legal. But I’ve gotta say, if you look at the abuses we’ve seen in government in the last year — where the IRS is going after conservative groups, where the FBI is wiretapping reporters — what’s to prevent the kind of abuse of power where somebody — some future administration, some future leaders — decide “You know, I really want to find out what my political opponents are saying to each other.”

Follow Brendan on Twitter