Politics

Sen. Cotton wants to extend bulk data collection

A Republican senator is using the terrorist attacks in Paris in an attempt to extend the bulk collection of metadata.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has proposed the "Liberty Through Strength Act," which would extend the National Security Agency's authorization to engage in the bulk collection of telephonic metadata to Jan. 31, 2017. Under the terms of the USA Freedom Act passed in June, the current program is set to end at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 28 this year. A statement issued by Cotton's office suggests, seemingly incorrectly, that the program would end on Dec. 1.

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However, Cotton asserts that extending the bulk collection program is necessary for national security. "The terrorist attacks in Paris last week are a terrible reminder of the threats we face every day," he says in the statement. "Regrettably, these policy follies also extend to the intelligence community, whose hands were tied by the passage of the USA FREEDOM ACT.

"Now is not the time to sacrifice our national security for political talking points," he adds. "We should allow the intelligence community to do their job and provide them with the tools they need to keep us safe. Passing the Liberty Through Strength Act will empower the NSA to uncover threats against the United States and our allies, help keep terrorists out of the United States, and track down those responsible in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks."

Cotton said he wants to give President Obama enough time to review any change in the program, saying that bulk collection should be extended "until the president can certify that the new NSA collection system is as effective as the current system."

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