White House press secretary Jay Carney, responding on Monday to NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s charge that Barack Obama is as bad as George W. Bush was when it comes to invasive procedures conducted through surveillance, said President Obama has “lived up” to his promises that he would alter the path the United States took in its war on terror. Carney insisted that Obama had changed policy from Bush vis-à-vis the Iraq war, Guantánamo Bay, the use of torture for gathering information and the warrantless wiretapping program. Carney intoned, “In every case, this president’s policy has been different.”
Snowden had defended his actions by claiming, “I believed in Obama’s promises. I was going to disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the policies of his predecessor.”
Carney added that the White House had struck the correct “balance between security and privacy.” Although the White House has been attempting to distinguish the warrantless wiretapping of Bush from the NSA’s surveillance during Obama’s administration by claiming that Congress and the courts have utilized their power to review the Obama era’s surveillance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court that monitors the counterterror programs has rejected a mere seven of more than 13,000 applications since 2006. Thus the argument for judicial review rings hollow.
Carney’s claim on Monday that Obama had tried to close Guantanamo also rings false; the facility is still a viable working facility.
Meanwhile, criticism of Obama from unexpected sources continues to mount:
- Maureen Dowd said Sunday that Obama couldn’t be called “Bush-Cheney lite” because there was nothing “lite” about the surveillance programs.
- Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), a staunch Obama ally, lambasted the Obama Administration for its lack of transparency. He said, “Maybe Americans think this is okay, but I think the line has been drawn too far toward we’re going to invade your privacy rather then we’re going to respect your privacy. I expect the government to protect my privacy, and it feels like that isn’t what’s been happening.”
Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said Obama should apologize to Bush, tweeting, “Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. [Obama] is carrying out Bush’s 4th term. Yet he attacked Bush for violating Constitution.”