Rep. Collins Speaks on Syria, NSA, Other Topics

doug collins9th District U.S. Representative Doug Collins says the United States needs to lead when it comes to taking action in Syria.

He spoke on that and a number of other issues in an interview Friday.

Recently, the White House said it had information that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people.

Collins, who serves as Vice Chair for the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa within the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he feels the U.S. should have been involved sooner providing some sort of aid and should be involved now.

“I’m not talking about boots on the ground, I’m not talking about the things we usually look at,” said Collins. “However, you have to look at it. Syria is surrounded in an area with Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and of course, Isreal. With everything going on, there is an international crisis developing there.”

Collins said aid needs to go those who are fighting for democracy. However, he cautions that America needs to be careful that it does not provide weapons to someone who will later use them against us.

Meanwhile, Collins also spoke on the controversy surrounding intelligence officials collecting Americans’ cell phone records.

He said he only learned the scope of the program through the media and adds he has concerns about that scope.

“Is there value to what our intelligence community is doing? Yes. I would never deny that,” said Collins. “I think what we have to do is (look at) the amount of data we are collecting and storing and how we are going about that, is that something we truly want to in essence give away in the name of security. I think that is a very fine balance.”

Collins went on to say that Congress probably needs to re-visit laws on the issue in light of technology.

“They are basing those decisions on 20 to 30-year-old court cases in which just the records of phone calls were not protected by the 4th Amendment,” said Collins. “However, I think the problem we are getting into today is we are dealing with a different set of data. For example, the phone I am on now (during the interview) do more than just make phone calls. There is a lot that goes on here. The concern and the question here is has our laws or our interpretation of those laws lag behind the reality of the digital age.”

The Hall County Republican did say the leaker should be prosecuted, stating that no matter the reason or justification, he broke the law.

On the domestic front, Collins talked about the prospects for immigration reform.

He said he is optimistic about an agreement being reached.

However, he said he does not support the bipartisan Senate proposal, calling it not workable.

According to Collins, a smaller approach like the House is taking on is a more appropriate method.

“We need to look at three different aspects, security and enforcement, illegal immigration, and legal immigration, and that is what we are doing in the House,” said Collins.

Collins also spoke on the Internal Revenue Service controversy, saying that targeting folks for political or religious beliefs is unacceptable and adding evidence shows that such actions were known about at some level in Washington.