Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio: Surveillance Now, Surveillance Tomorrow, Surveillance Forever!

Possible presidential candidate wants NSA mass data gathering made permanent.


Locking down that crucial support from Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) looks like he wants to lock down the "fear" vote for a possible run for president. In a commentary for Fox News this week, he complains that America is not interventionist enough in the fight against terrorism and must keep up the National Security Agency (NSA) domestic surveillance forever and ever:

The U.S. government should implore American technology companies to cooperate with authorities so that we can better track terrorist activity and monitor terrorist communications as we face the increasing challenge of homegrown terrorists radicalized by little more than what they see on the Internet.  

This year, a new Republican majority in both houses of Congress will have to extend current authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe.

National Journal notes that this stance would separate Rubio in the Republican primaries from Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Rand Paul (Kentucky). Both are in favor of some level of NSA surveillance reform:

Cruz was one of only four Republicans to join with Democrats in November in voting to pass the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would have reformed several aspects of the NSA spying regime and would have barred the government from dragnet collection of Americans' phone records. Rubio voted against the measure, and so did Paul—though for divergent reasons. While Rubio warned that the bill could hamper intelligence agencies and bolster terrorists, Paul voted it down because he said it did not go far enough.

Libertarian-leaning Republican Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) bluntly tweeted "Disqualifed" in response to Rubio's suggestion, presumably commenting on Rubio as a potential primary candidate. Democratic Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.), also a critic of the surveillance state, responded with a call for around-the-clock monitoring of Rubio.

"If Senator Rubio believes that millions of innocent Americans should be subject to intrusive and unconstitutional government surveillance, surely he would have no objections to the government monitoring his own actions and conversations," Polis said in a press release. "Senator Rubio is asking for American technology companies to 'cooperate with authorities,' so I believe he will have no objection to authorities being given access to his electronic correspondence and metadata.  Maybe after his 2016 strategy documents are accidentally caught up in a government data grab, he'll rethink the use of mass surveillance."

Meanwhile, it looks like some Koch donors actually like the cut of Rubio's jib, giving him preference over four other likely GOP presidential candidates.