In a new interview with Reason, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) talked at length about the Patriot Act, the federal government’s surveillance programs, and whether Edward Snowden is cut out for reality television.
In one of the interview’s more candid exchanges, the 2016 presidential hopeful quipped that if he were president, he would put Edward Snowden and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in the same jail cell for the same amount of time:
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.
When Reason asked if Paul would record any hypothetical jail cell conversations between the two men, Paul mused that the whole affair might make for a great reality TV show:
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.
A clip of the video is embedded below. You can watch the full interview here.