Tuesday night CNN hosted the most recent Republican Primary Debate. During the debate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz began talking about changes the the NSA’s metadata collection program in an exchange with Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
“The old program covered 20 percent to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists, the new program covers nearly 100 percent,” Cruz said, “That gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that’s the case.”
“Let me be very careful when answering this, because I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information,” Rubio said in response.
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) the chairman of the Intelligence Committee said that it was possible that Cruz disclosed classified information and would investigate.
“I’m having my staff look at the transcripts of the debate right now,” Burr told reporters this morning.
Whether or not the information is classified is murky further muddying the waters is whether or not Cruz learned of this information through an already leaked or open source.
“Is there an open source reference to it?” Burr said. “So it’s not as clear as just reading what he said. We’ve got to search all sorts of media outlets to see if anybody had reported that number independently.”
Burr added however, that as far as he knew the information was classified.
“To my understanding, the subject matter was not one where any members outside of the committee had been briefed on it,” Burr said. “Though we’re open to briefing on anything, we didn’t have a record of him being over there.“
A Ted Cruz spokesperson claimed that he learned the information through the USA Freedom Act and that the information Cruz referred to was “all publicly available”.
Burr, for his part, said that he did not watch the debate last night.
“The Voice was on. It was the final episode,” he said.
[Politico] [Associated Press]