A recent nationwide ABC News/Washington Post 2016 presidential primary preference poll found Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky tied at 11% atop the rest of the Republican field. According to The Hill, Governor Walker, a likely 2016 candidate and apparent co-frontrunner for the Republican nomination with Senator Paul, weighed in on the controversy over the USA PATRIOT Act’s expiring domestic surveillance provisions and the recently-signed USA FREEDOM Act during a Wednesday appearance on Fox and Friends.
“I think we would be much better off if we fully reauthorized the PATRIOT Act. I think it’s an important tool… I certainly don’t want to be in the position that France is in where they’re now saying, ‘What could we have done?’” said Governor Walker, positioning himself opposite his top GOP rival Senator Paul, who forced the PATRIOT Act’s Section 215 bulk spying provision to expire last week after it was ruled illegal by a federal appeals court earlier in May.
When asked about the USA FREEDOM Act, which President Obama signed into law on Tuesday, Walker said, “I certainly prefer this over nothing. I just think going forward, and it’s another example of the failure of this president to lead, this is an example where the president could lead, could have used the bully pulpit to tell the American people how important it is to make sure we have the information to prevent another terrorist attack out there and this is one of the many tools we need to do that. I hope in the future we’ll reestablish the PATRIOT Act.“
According to Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI), the USA FREEDOM Act outsources the National Security Agency’s unpopular bulk phone metadata collection program to telecom corporations, rather than having the NSA collect the data itself. Senator Rand Paul voted against the legislation, citing constitutional concerns. Presidential candidate and Senator Ted Cruz voted in favor of the bill, while 2016 candidate Senator Marco Rubio, a PATRIOT Act supporter, voted no.
ABC News notes that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, another possible 2016 contender, said sarcastically of the USA FREEDOM Act, “Exactly what we want to count on… We want to put our national security in the hands of the phone companies.” Governor Christie supports reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act instead.
During Governor Walker’s Fox and Friends interview, he said that, if he ends up running for president, he would not announce until the end of this month when his state’s budget is complete.
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