GOP Hopefuls Stick to Positions on NSA Surveillance Amid Spying on Israel Report

Republican presidential candidates – from both sides on the aisle on the issue of NSA surveillance – on Wednesday protested the Obama administration’s spying on Israel’s government and the collecting of their communications with members of Congress, after the Wall Street Journal broke the story on Tuesday.

But they also stuck to their positions regarding the program.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends” morning program, Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Israel and Americans alike have a right to be concerned about the fact that an ally of the U.S. and its citizens were unfairly treated with the use of the U.S. surveillance program during the debate over the Iran nuclear deal.

“Obviously, people read this report, and they have a right to be concerned this morning about it,” Rubio said. “They have a right to be concerned about the fact that while some leaders around the world are no longer being targeted, one of our strongest allies in the Middle East — Israel — is. These are all concerns, and they’re legitimate.”

However, Rubio cautioned that before rushing to conclusions people should understand the complicated issue. “We have to be very careful about how we discuss it, especially since there’s a press report that I don’t think gets the entire story,” said the GOP presidential hopeful. “I actually think it might be worse than what some people might think, but this is an issue that we’ll keep a close eye on, and the role that I have in the Intelligence Committee. I’m not trying to be evasive, but I want to be very careful in a national broadcast like this how we discuss these sorts of issues.”

Senator Rand Paul, appearing on the same program, was less defensive of the administration using the program to shoot down private conversations of U.S. citizens. “I’m appalled by it. This is exactly why we need more NSA reform and the debate in Washington right now has been unfortunately going the other way, since the San Bernardino shooting, everyone’s saying ‘Oh we need more surveillance of Americans.’ In reality, what we need is more targeted surveillance,” Paul said. “I’m not against surveillance, but I am against indiscriminate surveillance.”

Paul explained that “when we listen in on foreigners’ conversations when they’re talking to Americans, we’re scooping up tens of thousands of conversations of Americans, and that this is a real problem because it’s a real invasion of our privacy.”

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