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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Brian Kilmeade Show
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Brian Kilmeade Show to discuss the latest on his efforts to ban TikTok, the House of Representatives’ TikTok hearing, and the latest on Iran’s attack on Americans. See below for highlights and listen to the full interview here.
On the future of U.S. military action against Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria:
“We’ve been having this AUMF debate about getting rid of what people know as the Iraq War authorization. The problem with that is, it is the only authority that exists under the War Powers Act for presidents to take action against Iran in that country. The IRGC in Iran is, either directly or through their proxies, these other groups that are under their control, targeting Americans in Syria, in Iraq. They operate out of that area. And that’s what we’re seeing right now…. I think you’re going to continue to see this, and we’re going to have to have the ability to go after these guys. You can’t just do that one-off. You have to persistently have insight into what’s going on on the ground, or you don’t know where they are and where to hit them.”
On the War Powers Act:
“I think the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. I think presidents always have the power to act in the defense of our country. If Congress doesn’t like the president waging a war or a military operation, Congress can cut off the money for it. But I don’t think the president needs to go to Congress for pre-approval to defend our country. That’s what they’re going to argue. The problem with it is that these guys in Iran are not American constitutional scholars. What they read in the newspaper is that the U.S. Congress wants our military to no longer operate. That’s how they interpret it. To them, this is a prime moment to strike, when America seems to be on the retreat: ‘Let’s kill a few more of them, and then they’ll really want to get out of here.’”
On America’s continued presence in the Middle East:
“If we were to get up and leave—and I’m not saying we need to send massive numbers of ground troops—but if we weren’t on the ground there, then what would happen is, Iran would basically take over Iraq and Syria. They would have all those, and they would use those places as launching pads to attack America and Israel and other parts of the region and continue to push us out. That’s the world we’re going toward, [a world in which] Iran becomes the dominant power in the Middle East, China dominates Asia and is number one, eventually becoming the most powerful country, and Russia basically [has] a sphere of influence reaching throughout Eastern Europe. That is the world that those three countries, working together, envision. And we have to decide whether that’s good or bad for America. I think that’s bad for America 100 percent.”
On Saudi Arabia’s growing ties to China, Russia, and Iran:
“I’ve had problems with the Saudis. I don’t think they should be chopping people up in consulates and stuff like that around the world. That said, we have to be strategic about how we conduct foreign relations. The Saudis are saying to themselves, ‘We can’t count on the U.S. We certainly can’t count on Biden. Iran is a real threat to us. We don’t want to be the first country they attack. We don’t want to be the first ones that Iran comes after. So let’s try to cut a deal with them to buy ourselves time.’ It is reminiscent of the deal that the Soviets cut with the Nazis. It ended up in war anyway, but they thought it would buy them some time. That’s how [the Saudis] view it.
“It all links back to the fact that they just do not believe that the U.S. is reliable. Congress cut off funding for Saudi Arabia’s ability to go after the Houthis that were attacking them. The Houthis were launching these Iranian missiles into Saudi Arabia, trying to kill members of the royal family. And members of Congress in both parties…decided, ‘We want to cut them off. We don’t want to give them any more precision weapons to fight back.’ Two years later, we go to Saudi Arabia and say, ‘Can you guys help us with Ukraine?’ And they’re like, ‘You wouldn’t help us with our problem. Now you want us to help you with some other country’s problem? The answer is no.’ So there’s a lot of bitterness there in that relationship.
“These countries are all going to act in their interests, and they’re like, ‘We don’t think America is reliable’—I think that’s especially true under Biden—‘so we better start hedging our bets and spreading out our diplomatic engagement. We don’t want to put all our eggs in the American basket.’”
On the need to ban TikTok:
“Banning TikTok as a company is the only solution. That’s a dramatic solution. I understand that the majority of people know TikTok as a place where you can see funny videos. Here’s the problem.
“Tiktok is powered, like all social media companies, by two things: the massive amount of data that they gather on their users—and I mean stuff people can’t even imagine that they’re pulling off your phone—and…this artificial intelligence algorithm that basically predicts what kinds of videos you’re going to like and what kinds of things you’re going to buy….
“Here’s the issue. The engineers who control that artificial intelligence that predicts what you’re going to like are all in Beijing, because that belongs to ByteDance. So it doesn’t matter where TikTok stores their data. It doesn’t matter if they store their data in Washington, D.C. and Virginia and Texas, wherever they want to store it. That algorithm that belongs to ByteDance only works if you give those engineers in China access to the data. You can’t have the algorithm without the data. You can put all your money in a safe, but if you give the thief a combination, it doesn’t matter where the safe is. They have a combination to the safe. That’s the issue here….
“In China, there’s no such thing as a private company. Under Chinese law, every company in general, but especially technology companies, have to hand over any data they have access to, and they have to do whatever the Chinese Communist Party tells them to do. I don’t care what the CEO of TikTok says about providing anything directly to the Chinese government. If they’re providing it to ByteDance, which they have to in order for the algorithm to work, they’re providing it to the Chinese government, because the Chinese government can go to ByteDance and say, ‘We want the data,’ and they don’t have a choice. There’s no court hearing, there’s no court order. They have to turn it over, and they have to do what the Chinese tell them to do….
“If we ever, God forbid, get into a military conflict with China, they’re going to use hypersonic missiles to sink our ships. They’re going to conduct cyber attacks that take down our electric grid and our Internet. They’re going to use space weapons to blow up our satellites. But we don’t think they would use Tiktok’s algorithm to drive messages in America about how we need to surrender, about how we need to take to the streets and riot, about how we need to fight with each other, about how Taiwan isn’t worth dying for? We don’t think they would use that? They’ll sink our ships and shoot down our satellites, but they won’t use something like TikTok for that? They absolutely would.
“That’s the ticking time bomb that’s embedded in our society. We need to confront this once and for all. I don’t care how popular TikTok is, it is dangerous. It needs to be banned, because the Chinese won’t…turn over that algorithm. They’ve already specifically banned that. There’s no way to coexist with TikTok.”
On China’s access to dangerous AI:
“The AI TikTok has is better than anything Facebook is using. They’re already developing it. The second thing is, the AI Facebook has belongs to Facebook. They’re an American company, but it belongs to Facebook…. Everything in China belongs to the Chinese government. It doesn’t matter what company innovated it, who paid for it. The Chinese government has access to all of it.
“As an example, if you sign on to TikTok—they changed their privacy rules in 2021—they can now collect your face print and voice print. So they don’t have to make up your voice. They have your voice. They have your face. They have the face print that you use to open your phone. So they can do all kinds of things. That’s the kind of thing that they can use to, in a moment of crisis and conflict, send out messages that sound like they’re coming from the mayor of a city or the governor of a state or the president, saying something that creates chaos and distracts us from taking on China or maybe even convinces us we shouldn’t.
“That is the ultimate vulnerability here, not to mention the fact that they could also decide, ‘Let’s bombard American teenagers with messages about killing themselves and shooting each other, which is a way to poison a society that you’re trying to overtake.”
On why the courts stopped President Trump from banning TikTok:
“One of the reasons why the court stopped it is an argument for the First Amendment, which I think needs to be litigated all the way up to the Supreme Court, because we’re not trying to ban the content. It’s not what they’re saying on TikTok that we’re trying to ban. It’s the fact that the way that system is set up creates a vulnerability where the Chinese communist government has access to the data of 100 million American users. That’s the premise for it. That’s number one. The other one is that there’s a statute that actually prohibits this kind of thing. That’s why we have to pass a bill that addresses that.
“There’s a bill out there—Warner is on it, Thune is on it. It’s not that the bill is an evil thing, but all it does is basically codify the powers the administration already has. And it’s my view, my belief, that this administration does not want to ban TikTok, at least not until after 2024. Not until there’s another two years of data and other things going on. So giving them the authority to do what they already have the authority to do and are not doing is, to me, not a solution. But it gives the White House the ability to say, ‘We’re taking TikTok seriously.’ That’s my problem with it.
“And I just don’t think we have time. Remember, I started talking about this in 2019. I called for a ban on TikTok three and a half years ago. This is not a new issue for me. TikTok has only grown, and their influence has only grown. I’m worried we’re running out of time on this thing. There comes a point where it’ll be too late. We won’t be able to do it.”