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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

 5:20 PM 

Sensenbrenner says Rubio using 'McCarthyism' in NSA records collection debate

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner accused Marco Rubio of "McCarthyism" as the GOP hopeful has ramped up criticism of the USA Freedom Act co-authored by the longtime Wisconsin congressman.

That includes Rubio's suggestion ISIS would have supported the bill, a comment Sensenbrenner said he resents.

"I don't know why Sen. Rubio would object to it," Sensenbrenner told WisPolitics.com. "But saying that I am ISIS's biggest supporter in Washington being the author of the Freedom Act, I think, is McCarthyism at its worst."

The legislation, which cleared Congress this summer, made changes to the federal government's bulk collection of phone metadata by the National Security Agency. It also has become a source of contention among several GOP presidential hopefuls, because Sens. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Rand Paul, of Kentucky, supported the bill.

During a stop in New Hampshire on Jan. 4, Rubio said he would restore the previous NSA program.

"If ISIS had lobbyists in Washington, they would have spent millions to support the anti-intelligence law that was just passed with the help of some Republicans now running for president," Rubio said.

Sensenbrenner fired back in the WisPolitics.com interview that Rubio had a "disconnect" in his argument for bringing back the phone records collection program under the Patriot Act.

That program went through significant changes under the USA Freedom Act, though they didn't take effect until Nov. 30. The Menomonee Falls Republican pointed out the San Bernardino shooting occurred just days after the old Patriot Act provisions expired. If the previous phone records program was as effective as Rubio and others claimed, Sensenbrenner said, the program should have picked up something on the shooters.

The USA Freedom Act still lets the government get needed information on potential terrorist activity, Sensenbrenner said. But it has to seek a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get records from phone companies.

"I don't think that there's anything wrong with going to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and saying, 'We suspect that this guy is up to terrorist activity. Give us an order so that we can get the phone records,'" he said.

See more from the interview.


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