Republican strategist Karl Rove said Thursday he’s so angry over the Obama administration’s trifecta of scandals that “I can’t see straight,” but he cautioned against rushing to judgment against the intelligence community amid reports that it has been collecting the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers.
Appearing on Fox’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” Rove said that he has full confidence in the intelligence and law enforcement community.
“We have foiled plots since 9.11 using tools like this,” he said. “I don’t have any specific operational awareness of this program, but I would be very cautious about lumping what the administration has done on these other instances — the IRS, the AP, James Rosen, and Benghazi — with this, which is not being directed out of the White House.”
Rove said that Democrats and Republicans who sit on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have apparently played an oversight role with respect to the program, which is operated by the National Security Agency under a top-secret order, according to news reports.
“The indication is that this program has been in force for a number of years and has been routinely renewed and has generated information that has given the intelligence community — Democrats and Republicans alike — a confidence that it is a valuable tool in the war against terror,” said Rove.
He added that such a program, in which intelligence officials gained access to phone records of millions of Verizon customers, might have prevented the recent terror attack on the Boston Marathon.
In the case of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police after the April 15 attack, Rove said that such a tool could have set off a red flag.
“Imagine what would happen if we were able to identify that he had called somebody in Chechnya,” Rove explained. “He was under review for a period of time. What if he had called somebody in Chechnya who was known to be a terrorist? That would have allowed us to then understand that he was a problem and to map his contacts back in the United States.”
Rove also said that such a tool might have foiled the twin attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. back on 9.11.
“If we had a program like this in effect at the time that might have been helpful to us in stopping the 9.11 plot,” he said, adding that the program appears to be a “legitimate” tool for intelligence and law enforcement “in the environment and the world in which we live.”
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