President Obama’s eagerness to use drones and commando teams to pursue alleged terrorists has long been a hallmark of his controversial counterterrorism campaign that made Democrats a little nervous, suggesting the constitutional scholar they elected under the mantle of hope wasn’t so different from his predecessor. Now, the latest revelations showing the massive scale of surveillance of both phone records and electronic communications shows just how much he has embraced “a position that in some ways resembles the second-term posture of his predecessor, George W. Bush,” writes the Washington Post’s Greg Miller. Obama may have tried to mark a break with the past in his speeches, but his actions speak louder.
Some Bush allies have been quick to highlight the similarities between the man whose popularity was once compared to a celebrity’s and the former president who left office with low approval ratings. “Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. O is carrying out Bush’s 4th term,” former Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleischer recently wrote on Twitter.
On Saturday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declassified some details of the PRISM program as part of an effort by the White House to defend the controversial efforts to collect Internet data. It marked the second time in three days that Clapper declassified details on a program to respond to media leaks, notes the Associated Press. For the White House, PRISM is nothing more than an “internal government computer system” designed to sort through data obtained through court orders. In addition, Congress has authorized the program with Clapper claiming lawmakers have been briefed 13 times on the issues since 2009. The program “has proven vital to keeping the nation and our allies safe,” Clapper said.