President Barack Obama isn’t likely to hear many kind words from Republicans looking to succeed him in office. However, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is praising him for continuing a controversial surveillance program.
Considered a frontrunner
for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination, Bush recently said
that Obama’s decision to keep in place the National Security
Agency’s ability to monitor metadata – information such as when a
phone call was made, who it was made to and how long it lasted –
has helped keep the United States safe.
Bush made the comment on Tuesday while appearing on “The Michael Medved Show,” a nationwide radio
program, after he was asked what the “best part” of the
Obama presidency has been.
“I would say the best part of the Obama administration would
be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the
big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced,” Bush said.
“Advancing this — even though he never defends it, even
though he never openly admits it – there has been a continuation
of a very important service, which is the first obligation, I
think of our national government is to keep us safe. And the
technologies that now can be applied to make that so, while
protecting civil liberties, are there. And he’s not abandoned
them, even though there was some indication that he might.”
— James Peters (@jamespeters168) April
The legality of the NSA’s surveillance program has been hotly
debated in the US ever since revelations by former government
contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. Critics of the program argue
that it violates the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection
against unreasonable search and seizure, but supporters say it is
crucial for combating terrorism.
Provisions in the USA Patriot Act that provide the NSA with the
authority to gather metadata are set to expire on July 1, though
it’s unclear if lawmakers will decide to repeal or reform that
ability, or simply renew it altogether.
Elsewhere in the program, Bush agreed with Medved that Obama
helped the GOP reclaim control of Congress over the course of two
midterm elections, but dismissed the idea that racism is fueling
the president’s critics.
“I think it has to do with Obamacare, Dodd-Frank [which
installed new regulations on Wall Street], a tepid economic
recovery, declining median income in the sixth year of a
recovery,” Bush said. “This is a deeply pessimistic time
and the president’s overreach is really the cause for this.”