Presidential races

Bush: NSA metadata program ‘not a violation of civil liberties’

Jeb Bush, Net Neutrality
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Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) said in an interview broadcast Sunday that a National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects information on Americans’ phone calls is “not a violation of civil liberties.”

{mosads}“There’s no evidence, not a shred of evidence, that the metadata program has violated anybody’s civil liberties,” the potential 2016 White House candidate said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “The first duty of our national government is to protect the homeland. And this has been an effective tool, along with many others, and the Patriot Act ought to be reauthorized, as is.”

The Senate will come back to Washington on Sunday to make one last stab at saving three parts of the Patriot Act set to expire. Among the expiring provisions is Section 215 of the law, which the NSA has used to authorize its bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records.

Bush said national security threats have increased in the past few years, pointing to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terror groups “that want to destroy Western civilization.”

Bush said the U.S. needs to coordinate with the Iraqi government and Iraqi military to defeat ISIS.

“We need to embed American troops, as, as, we’ve done successfully in the past, to help train them, to identify targets, to do what we do really well. We need to encourage the Iraqi government to provide support to the, to the Sunni tribes, as we did during the surge. I think we need to arm the Kurds as well, in coordination with the Iraqi government,” he said.

“We need a strategy. We don’t have a strategy right now. We have a series of tactics, reacting to whatever’s going on on the ground. That doesn’t mean we have to have combat troops in harm’s way. But I think in, in concert with other countries, and certainly in an effort to try to restrict Iranian influence in Iraq, that we can play a constructive role.

Bush said it looks like the Obama administration is trying to leave the ISIS problem for the next president because it does not have a “clear strategy.”

“I think the strategy is both military as well as political,” he added. “We need to make sure that Iraq is stable for the region, and to create-narrowing the, the influence of ISIS not just in Iraq but in, in Syria. So it doesn’t appear that they have a strategy.”

Bush also said to expect an announcement on his presidential plans “soon, for sure.”

“I have a trip to Germany, Poland, and Estonia, a week from Monday. And after that, I’ll, I’ll have to make up my mind,” he said.

–Julian Hattem contributed to this report, which was updated at 8:57 a.m.

Read more from The Hill: 

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