Rove: Obama Needs Bipartisan Leaders to Save NSA Mission

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 03:52 AM

By Elliot Jager

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America "needs to be reminded" why monitoring phone calls made into and out of the United States is "vital" to national security, but President Barack Obama lacks the credibility to do so, writes Karl Rove in a Wall Street Journal column.
On Monday, Federal Judge Richard Leon ruled that systematically retaining records of phone calls made by Americans probably violates the Constitution.

Rove noted that legally the National Security Agency can only query its database when a link is made to suspected foreign terrorists. NSA officials said that in 2012 this happened just 300 times.

He argues that the threat from Islamic terrorists remains real and that it would be a mistake not to use the NSA's tools to protect the homeland.

But "strange bedfellows" have coalesced in opposition to the NSA, from the American Civil Liberties Union to far-right legal activist Larry Klayman, Rove writes.

Moreover, mounting numbers of young people — 60 percent of millennials — put privacy concerns above national security. While a majority of Republicans do not agree that the battle against terrorism has been taken too far at the expense of civil liberties, a not insubstantial 43 percent do.

Interestingly, a majority of Democrats back the collection of metadata for antiterrorism purposes (57 percent) while only a minority of Republicans (44 percent) and Independents (47 percent) do.

"This shift in attitude among Republicans partly reflects the increasing appeal of libertarianism within the GOP and, more important, the almost universal lack of trust in Mr. Obama among Republicans," writes Rove.

Rove, a former top aide to President George W. Bush and a leading Republican strategist, would like to see Obama turn to trusted, bipartisan leaders and ask them to take on the role of explaining to the American people why the NSA programs are vital.

He would have Obama tap former CIA directors Leon Panetta and Gen. Michael Hayden; Judge Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., among others.

These are leaders Americans trust, he writes.
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