Rep. Peter King on Saturday denounced a Republican National Committee resolution calling the National Security Agency's surveillance "unconstitutional" as a disastrous sellout to his party's isolationist wing.
"I can understand somebody having intelligent questions about it, but to be using hysterical language, by Republicans, calling it spying and unconstitutional, that's what you expect from ultraliberal Democrats and the American Civil Liberties Union," said King (R-Seaford).
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"The NSA's data-collection program is a legacy of three top Republican conservatives -- George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Michael Mukasey," King said in a phone interview. Mukasey was an attorney general in the Bush administration.
The RNC's resolution Friday said the NSA's "domestic spying" should be investigated, that public officials should be held accountable, and legally barred from continuing the program.
"I think it is a disaster, it's really a sellout to the isolationist wing," said King, a member of the Homeland Security Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence.
Defending the NSA's activities, King said, "All they're doing is collecting numbers." To actually monitor future conversations, "they have to go to court," he said.
King's reaction to the resolution was first reported by Politico.
King has indicated he is considering a 2016 run in the Republican presidential primaries to counter the influence of tea party favorites he calls isolationist.
"I'll be damned if I let the party end up in the hands of Rand Paul or Ted Cruz," King said, referring to the senators from Kentucky and Texas.