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.
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.”