While Republicans frequently scream about Obamacare, until now they’ve been silent on the Patriot Act which was sweeping legislation passed by both parties in the wake of 9/11. The conservative noise machine drumbeat into Americans that opposition to this legislation or opposition to the war was almost treasonous and would undermine President George W. Bush and his administration in their efforts to keep us safe.
The NSA security breach and the PRISM program is now garnering all sort of rhetoric from the right that was largely absent during the Bush Administration. Media Watchdog Media Matters put together this terrific video of Fox News talking head Sean Hannity doing a 180 on NSA surveillance and data mining.
While many of us on the left opposed the Patriot Act’s sweeping legislation then and now, for President Obama to repeal it would only give fodder to the right wing for “not keeping America safe” if terrorists decide to hit us again.
BusinessWeek reports the NSA program has already thwarted 50 different attempted terrorist attacks on America in recent years. From the story:
Intelligence-gathering efforts by the U.S. have helped prevent more than 50 terrorist attacks in more than 20 countries, including one planned on the New York Stock Exchange, government officials said.
Surveillance of communications between a known al-Qaeda extremist in Yemen and an individual in the U.S. allowed the FBI to “detect a nascent plot” to bomb the exchange and arrest those involved, Sean Joyce, deputy director of the bureau, told the House intelligence committee today.
Khalid Ouazzani, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Morocco, pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City in May 2010 to providing material support to terrorists.
Asked if it was a serious plot, Joyce said, “I think the jury considered it serious since they were all convicted.”
“This widespread leak by a 29-year-old American systems administrator put our country and our allies in danger by giving the terrorists a really good look at the playbook that we use to protect our country,” said Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland, the intelligence committee’s top Democrat.
Monitoring of foreigners’ Internet activity also helped in the discovery of a plot to bomb the office of a Danish newspaper that published cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, said Joyce, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
So the reply to conservatives outraged by the NSA PRISM program should be, “the program is 10 years old; why were’t you outraged when Bush was responsible for it?”