FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2015 file photo, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman [mc_name name='Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)' chamber='senate' mcid='B001135' ], R-N.C., right, confers with committee Vice Chair. [mc_name name='Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)' chamber='senate' mcid='F000062' ], D-Calif. on Capitol Hill in Washington. A proposed law meant to encourage companies to share information about cyber threats with the U.S. government includes measures that could significantly limit what details, if any, the public can review about the program through federal and state public records laws. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

If people are still puzzled about the rise and continuing appeal of Donald Trump, they only need to look at the douchebaggery the GOP Establishment regularly pulls whenever it finds its path to the trough of Federal dollars and perks potentially obstructed. Last night in the debate there was a heated exchange between Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio over the efficacy of the new law that supplanted the USA Patriot Act and stopped the ineffective busy work the NSA was carrying out in collecting metadata from phone calls:

RUBIO: He is and so are those that voted for it. There were some that voted for it because they wanted to keep it alive and they were afraid the whole program would expire.

Here's the world we live in. This is a radical jihadist group that is increasingly sophisticated in its ability, for example, to radicalize American citizens, in its inability to exploit loopholes in our legal immigration system, in its ability to capture and hold territory in the Middle East, as I outlined earlier, in multiple countries.

This is not just the most capable, it is the most sophisticated terror threat we have ever faced. We are now at a time when we need more tools, not less tools. And that tool we lost, the metadata program, was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal.

BASH: [mc_name name='Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)' chamber='senate' mcid='C001098' ]?

CRUZ: Well, you know, I would note that Marco knows what he's saying isn't true. You know, Mark Levin wrote a column last week that says that the attack ads his Super PAC is running that are saying the same thing, that they are knowingly false and they are, in fact, Alinsky-like attacks like Barack Obama.

And the reason is simple. What he knows is that the old program covered 20 percent to 30 percent of phone numbers to search for terrorists. The new program covers nearly 100 percent. That gives us greater ability to stop acts of terrorism, and he knows that that's the case.

RUBIO: Dana, may I interject here?

BASH: Senator -- Senator -- [mc_name name='Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)' chamber='senate' mcid='R000595' ], please respond.

RUBIO: 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. So let me just be very clear. There is nothing that we are allowed to do under this bill that we could not do before.

Whatever.

But, because Cruz is moving into a clear second-place position in the polls, the GOP establishment has to do something. Enter Richard freakin Burr.

A key Senate Republican is looking into whether Sen. TedVCruz (R-Texas) discussed classified information during Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate.

"I'm having my staff look at the transcripts of the debate right now," Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters. "Any time you deal with numbers ... the question is, 'Is that classified or not?' Or is there an open source reference to it?"

Cruz raised eyebrows during an exchange with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) over the National Security Agency's surveillance program, when he said that the old program covered "20 or 30 percent of phone numbers" while the new program covers roughly 100 percent.

...

Burr added on Wednesday that while he hadn't heard Cruz's comments, "the question had been raised, therefore I asked them to look at it."

He suggested that his staff would need to search through media reports to see if the numbers had been reported independently before.

The North Carolina senator didn't specify what — if any — consequences Cruz could face if his staff determines that the Texas Republican did discuss classified information.

"I would be a lot more worried if he was in fact a member of the committee, but to my understanding this subject matter was not one where any members outside of the committee had been briefed on it," he said.

Let's be serious here. This is nonsense on its face. First the contention "Any time you deal with numbers ... the question is, 'Is that classified or not?' Or is there an open source reference to it?" is just stupid of a quality you rarely see. "20 to 30 percent" is no longer operative and "almost 100 percent" is not a number that you can possibly say is classified. And there is this from February 2014:

NSA is collecting less than 30 percent of U.S. call data, officials say

And this from March 2014:

NSA surveillance program reaches ‘into the past’ to retrieve, replay phone calls

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.

A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.

The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.

 

Second. If there is any security violation here it is on the part of Rubio, for announcing in front of several million people that information that he believed to be classified had just been divulged.  Otherwise, the odds of ISIS monitoring the GOP primary debate approaches zero. The next security violation is by Burr for further highlighting this silly allegation because it would be an additional validation that classified information was compromised.

Both Rubio's statement in the debate and Burr having a cow today are clear indications that the assertion is total crap and this is simply designed to complement Rubio's continuous message that Cruz is weak on national security.

You're not going to hear anymore of this because this is a dishonest, cheap, and juvenile attack from beginning to end. But is demonstrates one thing. The establishment fears Ted Cruz and they are working with Rubio's campaign to stop him.