Civil liberties advocates have been saying for some time now that there’s not a lot of daylight between George W. Bush’s spying tactics, reviled by the left and even Obama himself just a few years ago, and President Obama’s anti-terror efforts. But that’s not just an opinion now. With George W. Bush riding to Obama’s aid on the NSA scandal, how can anyone see the Obama administration’s intelligence policies as anything but the offspring of Bush’s?
Which puts Democrats and Republicans alike in uncomfortable political territory:
“There’s kind of a view that maybe they’ve gone away – they haven’t,” Bush said, referring to terrorists. “And now, techniques used to prevent attacks have been disclosed. I don’t know if you remember after 9/11, Congress had hearings, right? And you know what the hearings were about? We didn’t connect the dots. Well, we didn’t have the tools there to connect the dots.”
“One of the killers makes a phone call from San Diego to somewhere, how come you didn’t know? We didn’t have the tools. We’ve got the tools. Now the people in Congress are saying, ‘Why are you connecting the dots?’ It’s a tough assignment for the president. It is.”
Those are valid points the President makes, and it illustrates the choice Americans have before them. There’s no doubting that the NSA’s spying powers are effective in identifying and thwarting terrorists. But are we willing to open ourselves up to pervasive, invasive monitoring of our communications (and all the potential for government abuse which comes with it) in order to gain that additional terror-fighting capacity?
As I’ve written previous, there are some things that are scarier that terrorism.