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Fact Checking the GOP Debate

Republican presidential candidates squared off last night in Las Vegas for what was the last GOP debate of 2015.

A flurry of claims and figures were tossed out in the debate, which focused squarely on national security issues. NBA Bay Area fact checked a few.

First up is Carly Fiorina, who turned the spotlight on Silicon Valley by pumping up the tech world’s role in rooting out extremism.

When CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Fiorina about whether or not tech companies should be forced to cooperate with the FBI, she responded, “They do not need to be forced. They need to be asked to bring the best and brightest, the most recent technology to the table.”

The reality is, that question has already been asked and answered. CEO’s like Apple’s Tim Cook have rejected backdoor access to data.

Forcing companies to provide that data to the government also makes it vulnerable to other sources, said Peter Leroe-Muñoz, vice president of technology and innovation policy at Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

“When you open a door, it can swing both ways,” he said. “Yes, the government and law enforcement agencies might have access to that data, but so also might malicious actors have access to that data.”

Other candidates, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio fret the government’s hands are now tied when it comes to scouring social media, emails and phone records after lawmakers scaled back the Patriot Act.

“The metadata program was a valuable tool that we no longer have at our disposal,” Rubio said on Tuesday night.

It’s true that the Patriot Act is gone, but it was replaced by the USA Freedom Act, which President Obama signed into law in June. That law ends the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records, but the government can still look at those records as long as there’s “reasonable, articulable suspicion, of terrorism". It just needs to go through the FISA court. That court now has five lawyers to serve as public advocates thanks to a provision in the USA Freedom Act.

Finally, claims crept up about keeping our borders safe.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul criticized Rubio for his stance on this issue.

“Marco has opposed at every point increased security -- border security for those who come to our country,” Paul said.

That accusation fails the truth test. Rubio helped lead the so-called Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of senators who passed immigration legislation in 2013.

The bill set aside $40 billion to beef up border security, including the addition of tens of thousands of border patrol agents. 

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