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 RubioTrump administration eyes new strategy on COVID-19 tests ACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names MORE (Fla.), who is running for president, Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senator calls reporting on Russia bounties 'absolutely inaccurate' after White House briefing New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in MORE (Ark.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstRepublicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Senate Republicans defend Trump's response on Russian bounties Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown 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 CruzTrump administration grants funding extension for Texas testing sites Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down GOP lawmakers join social media app billed as alternative to Big Tech 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.