Sens. Marco Ru­bio and Ted Cruz clashed over their op­pos­ing votes on a key sur­veil­lance bill dur­ing Tues­day night’s GOP de­bate, with each sen­at­or try­ing to es­tab­lish him­self as the strongest on na­tion­al se­cur­ity.

Ru­bio ac­cused Cruz of ham­per­ing in­tel­li­gence agen­cies by sup­port­ing the USA Free­dom Act, which ended the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s vast col­lec­tion of mil­lions of U.S. phone re­cords. That in­form­a­tion could have been crit­ic­al in in­vest­ig­at­ing the shoot­ing in San Bern­ardino, Cali­for­nia, Ru­bio ar­gued. “We are now at a time where we need more tools, not less tools,” the Flor­ida Re­pub­lic­an said. “And that tool we lost, the metadata pro­gram, was a valu­able tool that we no longer have at our dis­pos­al.”

Cruz shot back that Ru­bio “knows what he’s say­ing isn’t true.” The old NSA drag­net, Cruz ar­gued, covered only 20-30 per­cent of call re­cords, where­as the Free­dom Act will ac­tu­ally al­low the agency to col­lect “nearly 100 per­cent” of re­cords. Ru­bio stayed firm, claim­ing that “there is noth­ing that we are al­lowed to do un­der this bill that we could not do be­fore.”

So who is right? Did the Free­dom Act ac­tu­ally give the NSA ac­cess to more re­cords, as Cruz is claim­ing?

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