Rubio, Fox News “Dead Wrong” on NSA Surveillance Program


Senator Marco Rubio is interviewed by National Journal's Major Garrett during the Washington Ideas forum, at The Newseum in Washington

Megyn Kelly and Brit Hume of Fox News tore into Ted Cruz’s vote against the NSA’s surveillance program which allowed them to collect metadata on every single American. They joined Marco Rubio’s refrain that The USA Freedom Act which Cruz supported is dangerous for America. They bashed him immediately after the debate Tuesday night.

Rubio and Cruz debated it this week and in the after-game “analysis”, Megyn Kelly and Hume among others bashed Cruz for his stance. It will be a ‘tough sell’ in this age of terrorism, Kelly warned.

It’s pure politics. They are wrong on both counts. The Daily Beast has an excellent article on that issue and it’s linked below.

Rubio warned that, “…if God forbid there’s an attack tomorrow morning in another major U.S. city, the first question everyone is going to have is: Why didn’t we know about them, and how come we didn’t stop it? And the answer better not be: Because a tool we once had that could have allowed us to identify them is no longer available to us.”

Rubio said that on Fox News Sunday and during the debate.

It’s misleading.

Under the new law, government investigators must request records from telecommunications companies for individuals they suspect to be involved with terrorism.

Intelligence officials agree with the law in general. They say the previous system was too cumbersome and did NOT contribute to many leads on terrorists. The database prevents few if any attacks.

“People should understand that more isn’t always better,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who championed the USA Freedom Act in the House of Representatives. “Drowning our intelligence agents in endless records means we miss the most important pieces. We have seen this again and again. Remember the Boston bombings, the Paris attacks, and even the San Bernardino attacks happened with bulk collection in place.”

Rubio said the USA Freedom Act “took away the right to collect metadata, which means that we can now not access the phone records of individuals that we either suspect of being involved in terrorism or who carry out an attack to see who they were coordinating or talking to.”

The bill “did not take away the ‘right to collect metadata from terrorist suspects,’” Sensenbrenner told The Daily Beast. “It stopped the bulk collection of innocent Americans’ records and established an efficient process for obtaining records from suspects… USA FREEDOM simply requires the government to obtain a lawful order to access information from the phone companies.”

Rubio said on Fox that phone companies won’t collect the records, however, that is inaccurate. The phone companies will collect the records.

“I know of no phone company that says they are not going to collect phone records—under FCC rules, companies must keep billing information for 18 months,” said Neema Singh Guliani, a legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. “In fact, in many cases, companies keep phone records for longer than two years. T-Mobile, for example, has said that they keep records for seven to 10 years.”

Rubio said you can only see the records up to two or three years.


“This is incorrect,” Guliani responded. The length of records would determine on how long the phone company was keeping records, he said: “The government would be able to obtain an order from the FISA court for any records that the phone company had related to the individuals that conducted the attack.”

Cato Institute policy analyst Patrick Eddington, who specializes in homeland security and civil liberties issues, added that “as the Director of National Intelligence noted in his testimony, anything over 18 months old is pretty much useless.”of the three public hearings the Senate Intelligence Committee has held this year, Rubio has only attended one, according to transcripts.

“Particularly inaccurate is the assertion that we couldn’t target someone who carries out an attack,” said Chad Sweet, the Cruz National Campaign Chairman who has also served in the CIA and as chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security. “The USA Freedom Act preserves America’s ability to track down, kill or prosecute America’s enemies, particularly those who have carried out attacks.”

Rubio has used this as a political and personal attack on Ted Cruz but apparently in 2013, Rubio told Fox News that it was a legitimate issue. Now he called it “ideological silliness”.

The law has been a positive and actually expanded the NSA’s power. Before the new law, there were some limits on how responsive phone companies had to be. Now they have to respond.

The law allows for a much wider breadth of information that the NSA can request; it just can’t collect this data in bulk. To steal an analogy from policy managers at Access Now, a technology advocacy group, “Basically, there is a bigger ocean they can fish in, but they collect far fewer fish,” according to Politifact.

Comparing the old bulk data collection program to the new program established by the Freedom Act, the government has more tools to access a larger array of records — negating Rubio’s point that “there is nothing we are allowed to do under this bill that we could not do before.”

Sen. Mike Lee, the co-author of the USA Freedom Act, said Rubio is “dead wrong” on Boston Herald Radio. Jim Comey supported Mike Lee’s assertions.

“Marco Rubio has been attacking Ted Cruz on the USA Freedom Act and for his vote on the USA Freedom Act, he is suggesting this is somehow making America less safe, it’s simply not true,” Utah U.S. Sen. Mike Lee said on the “Herald Drive” show. “Marco is wrong on this, he is just dead wrong.”

“The Freedom Act has not made us less safe at all,” Lee said, adding that he discussed the law’s impact on the investigation into the shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., with FBI Director James Comey.

“I asked, ‘Did this impact our ability to follow up on San Bernardino or protect ourselves against another San Bernardino attack?’ The answer was, of course, no,” he said. “This is a law that, in many ways, enhances our ability to protect the homeland and does so in a way that is respectful of the privacy interests, the Fourth Amendment interests of the American people.”

Having the government collect so much data from Americans, as it was allowed to do under the Patriot Act, was a major concern, Lee said.

“We don’t need to give that much power to the government, power that could be abused and I think would have been abused,” he said. “This maintains our security interests in a way that is more consistent with our privacy interests and in a way that does not compromise our security at all.”


Source: The Daily Beast


  1. Right, Sara. A whole bunch of people who are supposed to be on our side of the aisle play right into the hands of the statists. We are not at war. Maybe we should be. But if the situation is not dire enough to declare war, it is not dire enough to suspend the 4th Amendment. And 4th amendment principles apply in the 21st century just as much as they did in the 18th. You don’t present some kangaroo court with probable cause or reasonable suspicion on 320 million people. The same bunch of phony patriots who want to push the absurd notion that we can’t catch terrorists unless Americans’ civil rights are suspended sat on the Judiciary Committee the other day and voted 16-4 that Muslims have a civil right to enter this country. Are you ……. kidding me?

  2. after the ‘patriot’ act it was a short step for the government to go from unsanctioned invasion of our talk-talk privacy to warrantless ‘searches’ of private property. the door to door look-see for guns following hurricane katrina and the ‘let’s poke around’ everyone’s closet in the boston neighborhoods to find dzhokhar are perfect examples of what americans now ‘accept’ because we have been made to feel afraid.

    mr. rubio is a tool for the neos and very ‘electable’. if he turns out to be the choice of the american polity i’d suggest we all invest in prosthetic technology companies. our afghanistan and iraq ‘intrigues’ have created a $24 billion industry.

    nevermind human suffering when there’s liberty to be lost or money to be made…b

  3. People just don’t care about privacy rights – it’s some abstract concept to them. They want to be safe and they think if you are not breaking the law, you have nothing to worry about. That’s not how I feel but I think it’s how a lot of people feel.

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