George W. Bush on NSA Surveillance: Civil Liberties Guaranteed

Says Edward Snowden damaged the country


White House

Former President George W. Bush defended President Obama from criticism levied against him and the NSA surveillance operation Bush acknowledges he began. Via Yahoo! News:

"I put the program in place to protect the country, and one of the certainties is civil liberties were guaranteed," Bush said… "I think there needs to be a balance [between security and privacy] and as the president described, there is a proper balance."

Bush also said Edward Snowden, who leaked the information, "damaged the country" and declined to criticize Obama, saying he didn't "need to make it harder" for Obama to do "a hard job." Bush's ownership of the NSA program flies in the face of liberal attempts to differentiate between Obama era and Bush era spying. Writing in the Daily Beast, Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago argues:

There is a crucial difference between the Obama administration's phone call data-mining program, which is constitutional under current law, and the Bush administration's NSA surveillance program, which was clearly unconstitutional. Unlike the Obama program, which is limited to obtaining information about phone calls made and received from telephone companies, the Bush program authorized the government to wiretap private phone conversations. From a constitutional perspective, the difference is critical, and it is unfortunate that President Obama has not done a better job of explaining the distinction, and why his administration's program does not violate the constitutional "right of privacy."

Bush will be happy to hear it.

Related:  a recent psychology study tried to use Bush and Obama supporters to explore "cognitive dissonance" by asking them to write essays in support of the other president. I think I see a flaw.