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Cruz seeks to refocus NSA debate on 'bad guys'

MANUEL BALCE CENETA / AP

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, is trying to refocus the debate over National Security Agency surveillance on the terrorists who actually succeed in pulling off attacks in the United States.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a potential 2016 Republican presidential contender, is trying to refocus the debate over National Security Agency surveillance on the terrorists who actually succeed in pulling off attacks in the United States.

“The federal government has not been effective enough monitoring and surveilling bad guys,” Cruz said this week as the Senate awaited President Barack Obama’s NSA reform proposals which he’ll announce Friday. “We have not succeeded in preventing what should have been preventable terrorist attacks,” such as Major Nidal Hassan’s shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas in which he killed 13 people.

Cruz agrees with Democrats such as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy that “the sweep of the surveillance has been far too broad with respect to law-abiding citizens.” Cruz said many Americans want to see “far greater scrutiny on bad guys, people that we have reason to suspect may be planning a terrorist attack” and “far more protection for law-abiding citizens….”

When Cruz questioned members of Obama’s advisory panel on NSA reforms, one member, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein pointed to a key recommendation the panel  has made that would give expanded emergency powers to the NSA to track terrorists suspects as soon as they the enter the United States, even before a warrant is granted.

The recommendation is “of great importance,” Sunstein said, but “it's gotten essentially no attention, so far as I can tell -- not even on Twitter has it gotten attention.”