President Barack Obama harshly criticized the methods used by George W. Bush in his fight against terrorism when he was a senator. However, the revelations about the National Security Agency spying on phone calls and other communications confirm that the current president continues to use the same methods. What will this contradiction cost Obama?
The U.S. has had a double standard on this topic for many years. The Washington establishment always claims to be in favor of the right to privacy, but then it violates that right in the name of "morality" or national security.
Bill Clinton almost lost his presidency over a sex scandal, which in many European countries would have been considered simply a slip-up of personal character, and now Obama justifies the embarrassing espionage on thousands of citizens, arguing that it is a necessity to avoid potential terrorist attacks.
What's surprising is that, according to a CNN poll taken yesterday, 56 percent of Americans agree with Obama and only 41 percent do not. Furthermore, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have lined up in support of the president.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that the terrorist threat "is getting worse" and that this "justifies" the monitoring. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., emphasized that the methods are legal under the Patriot Act, which was approved by bipartisan vote after 9/11 and requires all monitoring to be authorized by a court. Feinstein added that they have been able to stop more than 100 terrorist plots since 2009 and made a series of arrests based on the monitoring.
Her colleague, leader of the of the Republican minority of that important committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., spoke up as well, "It has proved meritorious because we have gathered significant information on bad guys, but only on bad guys, over the years."
The most virulent reaction comes from libertarians, like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who announced that he is planning to present a report against the NSA's surveillance for its "extraordinary invasion of privacy" to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A small group of young, progressive, Republican lawmakers who were not in Congress during the Bush era have united with Paul and are expressing their disillusionment with Obama.
Now Obama must decide whether or not to request the extradition of Snowden, the young man who leaked the information, which would be applauded by those who see him as a traitor and repudiated by those who see him as a hero.
All in all, analysts agree that from a political point of view, it is best for Obama to participate in the debate this scandal has provoked.