This is really pathetic. I understand that candidates vying for a nomination, at some point, have to rough each other up a bit but one would hope they would be truthful in the process.
For reasons known best to him, Marco Rubio has decided that his best avenue of attack on Ted Cruz is over a July vote that killed the ability of the NSA to collect phone metadata from calls made by tens of millions of Americans, the near totality of which had zero to do with terrorism. A couple of weeks ago I posted on the genesis of this attack, announced by the head of a Rubio supporting Super PAC, which Rubio can’t no way no how coordinate with. Ted Cruz and [mc_name name=’Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’L000577′ ] voted together to stop the mindless data collection. Rubio and McConnell voted to allow continued surveillance of innocent Americans. You can make our own decision on what was right.
On Friday, Rubio seemed to want to say that the majority of the US Senate that voted to get rid of the most noxious aspects of the NSA’s domestic surveillance scheme were somehow culpable in the San Bernardino shooting:
In the wake of Wednesday’s massacre in San Bernardino, California, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Friday dinged Ted Cruz and his other fellow senators and GOP presidential rivals for their votes to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone metadata.
“A couple points. First of all, we have to have robust intelligence gathering capabilities to disrupt plots. It’s one of the reasons why I was opposed to this law that even some of my opponents running for president voted for, this USA [Freedom] Act that passed a few months ago. It 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,” Rubio told “CBS This Morning.”
This is simply not true on so many levels that you have to assume the dishonesty is deliberate. First off, the bill in question, the USA Freedom Act gives the NSA six months, from June 2, to end the bulk collection program that Rubio is so upset about
“shall take effect on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act”
So, if the bulk collection program could possibly have prevented the San Bernardino shooting then it would have. This led to a fight between the campaigns:
Chad Sweet, Cruz’s campaign chairman and a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, fired back in a statement. “This particular assertion – that America couldn’t target those who have carried out attacks – is beyond the pale and Rubio should correct the record immediately, instead of attempting to instill a false fear among Americans,” he said.
“Our campaign is calling on him to formally correct these inaccurate statements and to start telling the truth about America’s intelligence capabilities,” Sweet continued.
A Rubio spokesman noted that Cruz has recently lauded the fact that telephone metadata more broadly is no longer collected in bulk.
“The truth is that because of [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]’s legislation, the Federal government can only access terrorists’ metadata by jumping through hoops that are extensive [and] not conducive to fast-moving investigations,” argued Rubio communications director Alex Conant in a follow-up email.
This is what the House Judiciary Committee says about the act:
Myth: The USA Freedom Act reverts our intelligence-gathering programs to a pre-9/11 posture.
Fact: The USA Freedom Act enacts sweeping reforms to surveillance programs – ending bulk collection, creating a panel of experts at the FISA court, and mandating transparency – but the bill also preserves key authorities. Section 215 will remain a valuable counterterrorism tool for the FBI. A targeted, narrowly-tailored call detail records authority will replace the NSA’s current, unlawful program. Additionally, the USA Freedom Act enhances national security by providing targeted tools to keep America safe.
Let’s break this down. The bulk collection program is totally irrelevant for persons suspected of terrorism. Their calls are already available to law enforcement for the asking because the courts have ruled that you have no expectation of privacy there. The San Bernardino shooters were not even on the government’s radar. The “hoops” Conant is exercised about are technically called “reasonable suspicion,” “probable cause,” and, last but not least, “search warrant.” All of which were available to authorities after the shooting.
Rubio rolled out another round of this attack on Jake Tapper’s “State of the Union” today:
“Our intelligence gathering capabilities have been significantly diminished just in the last four or five days,” Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Rubio pushed for President Barack Obama to work with Congress to reverse the changes to the NSA’s bulk collection policies. It’s a stance that puts him at odds with some of his competitors in the 2016 race, particularly Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who was vocal in pushing for the changes that Congress passed earlier this year following the disclosure of the NSA’s data collection from Edward Snowden.
CNN’s Jake Tapper pushed back against Rubio, noting that the White House says they have access now under the new program to more metadata than before, and that the Justice Department has access to years of calls as part of the San Bernardino criminal investigation.
This is sort of sad. When a CNN host points out that your attack on a conservative is inaccurate, that should tell you that absolutely no one, other than a handful of Bush donors, believes you.
So, on the one hand it is good practice for Ted Cruz to get used to handling false, manufactured and bulls*** attacks because, should he be the nominee, that is the way Hillary will operate. On the other hand it is a shame to see Rubio trying to act like Hillary Clinton