Jeb Bush: NSA’s Data Collection Program Is ‘Hugely Important’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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In comments sure to rile up civil libertarians, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s metadata program that secretly collects phone records of Americans in the name of national security is “hugely important.”

The Republican made the comments while discussing efforts to prevent terrorist attacks during a foreign policy speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“That requires responsible intelligence gathering and analysis, including the NSA metadata program, which contributes to awareness of potential terrorist cells and interdiction efforts on a global scale,” Bush said.

The likely Republican candidate for president said he doesn’t get the opposition to the NSA’s program.

“For the life of me, I don’t understand,” Bush said. “The debate has gotten off track, where we are not understanding and protecting.”

It’s the sort of issue that could play out on a debate stage in 2016.

His comments differ from those of the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, a potential opponent in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, who last year filed a federal lawsuit against President Obama and the leaders of the country’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies over the government’s collection of telephone metadata.

“There’s a huge and growing swell of protest in this country of people who are outraged that their records would be taken without suspicion, without a judge’s warrant, and without individualization,” Paul said at the time.

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Alex Pappas