SAN FRANCISCO (CBS News) – Oracle CEO Larry Ellison sat down with CBS News’ Charlie Rose at his Bay Area compound and gave his surprising opinion on the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.

CHARLIE ROSE: Where do you come down on what the NSA is doing?

LARRY ELLISON: Well, the great thing is we live in a democracy. If we don’t like what the NSA is doing, we can just get rid of the government and put in a different government. I think, actually, we’ve been collecting this information for so long, long before the NSA was collecting it. Let me tell you who was collecting it.

American Express, Visa, all of your credit card data, we have, and all of your financial records. This whole issue of privacy is utterly fascinating to me. Who’s ever heard of this information being misused by the government? In what way?

ROSE: Let me just hear you clearly. You were saying whatever the NSA’s doing is okay with me?

ELLISON: It’s great. I wish, you know, it’s great. It’s essential. By the way, President Obama thinks it’s essential.

It’s essential if we want to minimize the kind of strikes that we just had in Boston. It’s absolutely essential.

ROSE: But what point would it be alarming for you, in terms of government surveillance? At what point would your red line be crossed?

ELLISON: If the government used it to do political targeting. If the Democrats used it to go after Republicans. If the Republicans used it to go after Democrats.

In other words, if we stop looking for terrorists and we started looking for people, on the other side of the aisle.

(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco and CBS Interactive. All rights reserved.)


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