Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wants Congress to permanently extend the National Security Agency's massive spying programs, including its controversial dragnet collection of domestic phone records.
In a Fox News op-ed post Tuesday,
the Florida Republican – who's mulling a possible run for the White House in 2016 – blasted President Barack Obama's counterterrorism policies, and warned the nation is ignoring the "fundamental lessons of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."
"The threat from Islamic extremism is only growing and without greater leadership from the United States, I fear that it will only be a matter of time before innocent Americans pay the ultimate price if we continue to underestimate our enemies and not develop a strategy that is commensurate to the threat," he writes.
He writes one critical tool that should not be curtailed is the "gathering capabilities that have been legally and painstakingly established following those horrific attacks."
Rubio calls on Congress to permanently reauthorize core provisions of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, which are due to sunset June 1, the National Journal notes.
"This year, a new Republican majority in both houses of Congress will have to extend current authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe," Rubio writes.
He also suggests tech companies shouldn't create impossible-to-crack standards for mobile devices and digital services – echoing concerns of both Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director James Clapper, the National Journal reports.
"The U.S. government should implore American technology companies to cooperate with authorities so that we can better track terrorist activity and monitor terrorist communications as we face the increasing challenge of homegrown terrorists radicalized by little more than what they see on the Internet," Rubio writes.
Rubio has repeatedly defended
the NSA's spy programs, including in the wake of the attacks in Paris at a magazine and kosher deli that left 17 dead earlier this month.
But his op-ed also sets him apart from Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, both of whom also have an eye on a presidential bid.
Cruz was one of only four Republicans to join with Democrats in November in voting to pass the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would have reformed several aspects of the NSA spying regime and would have barred the government from mass surveillance of Americans' phone records, the National Journal notes.
Paul has vowed to work to block the Patriot Act's reauthorization entirely this year, the National Journal reports.
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