PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — During this week’s Republican presidential debate, candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio squared off in a debate over NSA surveillance and the collection of phone data used to identify and to, theoretically, prevent future attacks. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey told Chris Stigall on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT that he sides with Rubio, who thinks rollbacks on how much data the NSA can collect were a mistake, and against Cruz, who voted for more restrictions on what information the agency has access to.
Toomey believes the constraints placed on government agencies makes it more difficult to combat terrorism.
“I voted to renew the Patriot Act because I think that the metadata, the data about phone numbers and the numbers to which those phone numbers connected, that data, with no identifiable characteristics, no human being identified to it, absolutely no content, but those connections, I think, are extremely important…I think that was a very important and useful tool and Ted voted to change that dramatically, to weaken it, in my view. The Federal Government, already, no longer has that information and we now rely on the phone companies, who are not obligated to keep it.”
He insisted that the battle against ISIS be bolstered, even if that means sending more troops back to the region.
“I’m on board that we have to destroy ISIS and if that takes more Americans on the ground, which I suspect it does, more than we have today, than I think we have to do that. I don’t think it takes a 100,000 man army of US soldiers to get that done. I think with adequate and serious American leadership and commitment, we would be able to encourage the Sunni Arab states and probably the Turks to provide the bulk of the manpower. But those militaries don’t have the capabilities and the sophistication that we have. So it would require embedding with them, American special ops forces, Americans who can help guide air attacks.”
Toomey also said he understands the appeal of Donald Trump with disaffected Republican voters.
“He’s speaking to an anxiety, a frustration, an anger, it’s a combination of fear about security, but also there’s the economic anxiety of people who have been living paycheck to paycheck and they haven’t seen their circumstances get better and they don’t feel like Washington is responding to their situation. I understand it.”