When Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian broke its initial story on the NSA's secret vacuuming of Americans' phone data, George W. Bush's former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, had this response:
Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. [Obama] is carrying out Bush's 4th term. Yet he attacked Bush for violating the Constitution.
And when news surfaced that the NSA's reach had infiltrated nearly every major internet company's servers, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, Fleischer said
to Anderson Cooper:
"I'm proud as a Republican to be backing what President Obama has done."
In 2008, Americans voted for Obama
for two primary reasons: 1) to embrace his health care and economic stances in the wake of the financial collapse, and 2) to reject President Bush's hawkish national security and foreign policies.
Of those who voted for Obama, 87 percent strongly disapproved of the war in Iraq, 90 percent claimed McCain would continue Bush's policies, and only 13 percent found the War on Terror to be the election's most important issue (compared with an incredible 86 percent for those who voted for McCain).
Meaning: the greatest divide between voters was the issue of terrorism and how our country was addressing it, both domestically and abroad.
Meaning: many Americans who voted for Obama were reacting in various forms to the war in Iraq, The Patriot Act, and a myriad of perceived constitutional abuses in the name of fighting terror.
It was about hope and change. A hope for individual, economic survival, and a change from what many saw as the Bush administration's intrusive, Orwellian reach.
Now, those who have been paying attention for the last seven years are not surprised by the fact that our government appears to have grossly abused what, in The Patriot Act, was already a troubling response to 9/11. And hints of such abuse, coming from concerned politicians and targeted whistleblowers, have been swirling for years. That the Obama administration has expanded the Bush administration's surveillance establishment is nothing new, if you've been watching things closely.
However, not everyone has been paying attention.
Now that they are, Americans are realizing that, when it comes to matters of national security, President Obama appears to be embodying precisely what they had originally rejected in President Bush. Sure, there have been drone strikes, but those have been shrugged off by the populace as a faceless and necessary element in a faraway land. And anyway, Obama's drawn down in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is precisely what they expected and desired.
However, domestically, America is suddenly realizing that this is not what they signed up for. In 2007, Obama said this, in making a distinction between his future leadership and President Bush's reign:
"That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing but protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient."
Americans should be outraged and concerned by the scope of the NSA's surveillance reach -- which is truly Orwellian in scope. And some are.
But the reaction to recent developments is just as much in response to the actual surveillance infrastructure as it is to the fact that a Nobel Prize winner and constitutional law professor has allowed our government to, as one NSA employee stated, allow agents to literally watch what you type, as you type it.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
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