A reader with first-hand knowledge about national security and intelligence issues, as well as the Obama administration’s policies relating thereto, has written to me about my two recent posts on NSA surveillance. The essence of my posts is that the Obama administration hand-picked a left-leaning panel to report on surveillance policy because it wanted a highly critical report to use as the basis for cutting back substantially on electronic surveillance.
Our reader tells me that, if anything, I’m being too charitable to Obama:
It is interesting to watch a president who has enjoyed the success that comes from using certain authorities and capabilities purposely try to dismantle them before the next guy takes over.
The reader reports that Obama’s attempt to reduce the NSA’s ability to use electronic surveillance to detect terrorist activity is being replicated throughout the national security apparatus, including at the CIA where he is desperate to shut down certain successful programs before he leaves office.
Obama has lacked the courage of his convictions on national security. He has been unwilling to risk his presidency in the name of his civil libertarian principles by implementing reforms he desires that would reduce the government’s ability to thwart terrorism.
However, Obama seems to have few qualms about risking the presidency of his successor — or about risking the security of the nation — in the name of his principles. This duplicity makes him all the more unprincipled.