GOP: Bolster surveillance in wake of attacks

GOP: Bolster surveillance in wake of attacks
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A trio of freshman Senate Republicans, including one White House contender, is trying to up pressure on Congress to pass new surveillance legislation, saying it's needed to defeat "radical Islamic jihadism" after a string of recent attacks.

"How many attacks on the homeland will we have to endure before the president understands that lawful intelligence tools subject to judicial review are necessary to win the long war against radical Islamic jihadism?," Republican Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats Mellman: Are primary debates different? Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court MORE (Fla.), who is running for president, Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonUS officials express optimism negotiations with Iran possible Cotton: 'Healthy skepticism warranted' when dealing with Democrats on immigration Cotton: I hope Trump's statement 'got through' to Iran's leaders MORE (Ark.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senator declines to directly address rape allegations against Trump GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers GOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal MORE (Iowa) wrote in the Independent Journal Review on Friday.

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The op-ed follows the attacks in Paris and California, which the senators say underscore "just how dangerous the world has become under Obama."

The attacks have reignited a debate over a surveillance reform bill passed earlier this year. Under the USA Freedom Act, the National Security Agency (NSA) ended its bulk collection of phone metadata and switched to a new system late last month in which it receives a narrow set of records from individual phone companies after obtaining a court order.

The senators, however, suggested on Friday that the new law would lead to the president "unilaterally disarming the United States in the fight against terrorism."
 
Instead, they want Congress to pass legislation offered earlier this month from Cotton, which is backed by nine Republicans including Rubio and Ernst. The measure would require the government to keep phone records already collected under the NSA's previous metadata collection program for officials to search through for five years.
 
It would also make permanent two other provisions of the NSA reform bill tied to "lone wolf" suspects and those who use multiple devices, as well as a portion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows the NSA to collect vast amounts of information about Americans’ and foreigners’ behavior on the Internet, which is set to expire in 2017.
 
Friday's op-ed also comes as Rubio has been locked in a rhetorical battle with Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats O'Rourke on Senate bid backer Beyoncé: I will have to 'earn her support' for 2020 Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage MORE (R-Texas), who is also running for the Republican presidential nomination, over the surveillance reform bill.
 
After the Paris attacks, Rubio has repeatedly accused Cruz of making the country less safe. Cruz supported the USA Freedom Act earlier this year, while Rubio voted against it.
 
FBI Director James Comey, however, suggested earlier this week that it's too soon to determine if the new law is hampering the administration's ability to track terrorists.