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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cruz and Rubio continue to fight over NSA

4

December

The feud between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz continues to grow in advance of the Dec. 15 debate in Las Vegas, and Cruz on Friday demanded his Florida rival “correct false claims about America’s intelligence gathering capabilities.”

Cruz was reacting to Rubio’s appearance Friday on Good Morning America in which Rubio said, “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.”

The Freedom Act does not mean metadata is not being collected; it shifts the collection to phone companies and the government can only access it with cause.

Cruz campaign: The assertion 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’ is patently false. Under the USA Freedom Act, America’s intelligence services, the FBI, and local law enforcement have all the authority they need to target suspected terrorists, access phone records, and track all those with whom they’ve been communicating.

Rubio’s campaign responded that Cruz told Sean Hannity this week, before the California attack, that the law did two things: “Number one, it ended the federal government's bulk collection of phone metadata. It ended the federal government having your cellphone information and my cellphone information.”

Critics of the act say having phone companies collect the data could slow down government response to threats.

[Last modified: Friday, December 4, 2015 7:51pm]

    

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