- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he’d be OK with restoring the post-9/11 Patriot Act and that he errs “on the side of security” in the ongoing debate over the NSA’s phone-snooping program.

“Well, I tend to err on the side of security, I must tell you,” Mr. Trump said this week on radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show. “And I’ve been there for longer than you would think, but when you have people that are beheading [you] if you’re a Christian and, frankly, for lots of other reasons, when you have the world looking at us and would like to destroy us as quickly as possible, I err on the side of security.”

“And so, you know, that’s the way it is. That’s the way I’ve been. And some people like that, frankly, and some people don’t like that,” he said.

Beginning this past Sunday, the government had to stop the bulk collection of Americans’ phone data under Section 215 of the Patriot Act after Congress passed the USA Freedom Act earlier this year.

“And I’m not just saying that since Paris — I’m saying for some time,” Mr. Trump said. “I assume when I pick up my telephone, people are listening to my conversations anyway, you want to know the truth. It’s pretty sad commentary. But I err on the side of security.”

Mr. Hewitt asked Mr. Trump if he would be in favor of restoring the Patriot Act.

“I think that would be fine. As far as I’m concerned, that would be fine,” Mr. Trump said.

The issue has split the 2016 GOP field, with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie siding with Mr. Trump in supporting the metadata program and people like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky opposing the bulk collection.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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