You know that Ted Cruz is taking his presidential bid seriously when he starts flipping positions on national security and government surveillance.
Recall that he joined Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan's nomination to be head of the CIA back in 2013. That took place three months before Edward Snowden's revelations about massive NSA surveillance of Americans. Cruz had this to say about Edward Snowden back then:
"If it is the case that the federal government is seizing millions of personal records about law-abiding citizens, and if it is the case that there are minimal restrictions on accessing or reviewing those records, then I think Mr. Snowden has done a considerable public service by bringing it to light," Mr. Cruz said at an event hosted by TheBlaze, according to the website??.
More recently, Marco Rubio, who also participated in Paul's filibuster, has been hammering Cruz for any and all positions that place civil liberties ahead of what Rubio deems to be national security. Recent comments by the Florida senator on ABC's This Week:
"I never believed Edward Snowden was a good public servant the way that Ted Cruz once said, that he had done a public service for America…"
"We cannot afford to have a commander in chief who thinks people like Edward Snowden are doing a good public service."
When asked by The New York Times to respond, Cruz
took a very different tone, saying?,? "?It is now clear that Snowden is a traitor, and he should be tried for treason."
He pointed to his remark in 2013 that Mr. Snowden should be prosecuted if he broke any laws. "Today, we know that Snowden violated federal law, that his actions materially aided terrorists and enemies of the United States, and that he subsequently fled to China and Russia," he said. "Under the Constitution, giving aid to our enemies is treason."
We can file this under intra-party feuding and jockeying for position as the primary season really begins in earnest. Yet it points to one more way in which Ted Cruz is quick to distance himself from libertarian-leaning positions when push comes to shove and to verge into standard-issue hawk positions (recall also that Hillary Clinton has been unwavering in her attacks on Snowden).
Certainly the most important thing about the Snowden revelations are the revelations themselves and what they say about the willingness of the government under both Republicans and Democrats to either ignore or bend the law whenever they consider it expedient.
Apart from Rand Paul, Cruz was about the only GOP candidate who spoke out against government abuse of civil liberties in the name of the war on terror. This latest contretemps suggests that one more voice for limited government may have gone missing.