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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio suggests government surveillance programs here to stay

Sen. Marco Rubio said the government surveillance programs that leapt back into the news this week are subject to "intense congressional oversight," and represent a difficult balance of privacy issues and national security interests.

He also suggested they are here to stay.

"Much of what that program involves is classified," Rubio said in an interview Thursday with Florida reporters, referring to the report about NSA phone monitoring. "I'll tell you that program is part of intense congressional oversight. It's a program members are aware of and they get to review from time to time and see how it's being applied."

A member of the Intelligence Committee, Rubio hedged when asked if the phone monitoring program was being misused.

"It involves a classified program so I'm very careful about the comments I make. I think our intelligence community works really hard and does an excellent job of trying to protect Americans. They won't always get it right. There are always ways to improve programs and ongoing oversight is important. But they have a tough job."

Asked if the monitoring will ever recede, or if this is a new reality, Rubio implied the latter.

"The threat that we face -- largely radical, political Islamists -- is probably a threat that is going to exist for the rest of our lifetimes. It's just the reality. We have to deal with it. The world changed after 9/11, and it changed after Boston. It's just a struggle to try to balance our deeply held convictions of privacy and freedoms and liberties with our need to provide for national security."

[Last modified: Friday, June 7, 2013 12:39pm]


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