Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Sen. Marco Rubio: 'We cannot unilaterally disarm' the NSA, 'it makes the country less safe'

Published Mar. 29, 2014

WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama moves to rein in NSA data collection, Sen. Marco Rubio remains resolute.

"A lot of it's been completely mischaracterized," Rubio said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times this week that seemed to take a jab at Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a potential 2016 GOP presidential primary rival, who is mounting a populist campaign on the issue.

"Some of this paranoia that's being spun out there goes beyond the issue at hand," Rubio said.

The Florida Republican and Senate Intelligence Committee member said: "There is no evidence that these programs have been systematically abused. And there are significant safeguards built in. You can't just go after someone's metadata. You have access to it, but you can only truly use it and gain access to a phone bill if they go through a judge. Then what you're getting is a phone bill and the information contained therein. So really, the debate is why are they collecting it in the first place?

"Well, because you want to have quick access. Understand that when you're dealing in the terrorist realm, as opposed to the law enforcement realm, sometimes you need to move quickly to prevent something. If it's found that any individual is going after these records outside of the court, that person should be prosecuted and put in jail. But if you wipe out the program and we have the ability to deduce an attack is being planned … and we hamstring ourselves, I think that could one day lead to horrifying consequences."

Rubio has sketched out a firm stance on national security and foreign policy, finding himself to the right of some fellow Republicans who have elevated libertarian thinking.

Paul has been especially vocal about the NSA, tapping into an issue that could broaden his appeal. He appeared this month before a receptive student audience in Berkeley, Calif., and said the surveillance agencies are "drunk with power."

"I find it ironic that the first African-American president has without compunction allowed this vast exercise of raw power by the NSA," Paul said. "Certainly J. Edgar Hoover's illegal spying on Martin Luther King and others in the civil rights movement should give us all pause. Now if President Obama were here, he would say he's not J. Edgar Hoover, which is certainly true. But power must be restrained because no one knows who will next hold that power."

On that principle, Rubio agreed — to a point.

"There has been a history in this country of people in government abusing intelligence information, certainly the FBI and instances in the '70s with the CIA and others. If there is evidence of that now or any time in the future, that's illegal. And that should be prosecuted. But I don't think the solution to the problem is to wipe out the capability. Perhaps the most important obligation the federal government has is our national security, and in the 21st century you have not just nation states but nonstate actors who are constantly plotting to attack Americans. We cannot unilaterally disarm in terms of our intelligence-gathering capabilities. … it makes the country less safe."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. President Donald Trump speaks at the Economic Club of New York at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    The explanation gets complicated.
  2. Jomari DeLeon, is pictured at at Gadsden Correctional Facility in Quincy, Florida August 7, 2019. Jomari is three years into a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. She sold 48 tablets of prescription tablets over two days to an undercover officer. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |  Times
    Florida lawmakers agreed the state’s old drug sentencing laws went too far. But that means nothing to people serving time.
  3. Sen. Travis Hutson presents his Job Growth Grant Fund legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Nov. 12, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The original version would have targeted charter schools only.
  4. Florida Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, was the sponsor of a law that was to go into effect Friday that would have created new requirements for abortion doctors that could have limited the number of clinics. But the U.S. Supreme Court threw out similar Texas restrictions, raising doubt about the fate of Florida's new law. [Scott Keeler | Times]
    The delay, which kicks a vote on the bill into mid-December, could stall what may be one of state lawmakers’ most contentious decisions on a political live wire going into a presidential election...
  5. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  6. Morton Myers, 40, is an entrepreneur, a lifelong Clearwater resident and now a candidate for mayor who comes from a family of Scientologists. He says he is not a practicing Scientologist and is running to bring change and representation to all residents. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Morton Myers says he’s not an active member. But with family on Scientology’s staff, he says he’s uniquely positioned to find middle ground with the church.
  7. FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, after meeting with President Donald Trump about about responses to school shootings. Bondi is preparing to defend Trump against accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his re-election campaign. And she’s stepping down from a lobbying where she represented foreign interests (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    “People are going to discover all over again what Pam Bondi’s made of,” says the consultant who engineered her foray into politics 10 years ago.
  8. President Donald Trump speaks at New York City's 100th annual Veterans Day parade, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) SETH WENIG  |  AP
    Trump will speak at the Hollywood summit on Saturday, Dec. 7 before traveling to Orlando for the Florida GOP’s Statesman’s Dinner, the Republican Party of Florida’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
  9. President Donald Trump speaks in front of a painting of former President George Washington in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 27. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Trump pointed to Washington as precedent for an active businessman serving as president.
  10. The Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway was built in Tampa as toll road. Commissioners are divided over an elevated toll road proposed for southern Pasco.
    After frustration about their oversight of three potential new toll roads, the department moved up their timeline for scrutinizing the projects.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement