President Obama is having to explain and justify NSA surveillance of millions of Americans' phone records and Internet use. Critics on the left say he's too much like former president George W. Bush.
Into his fifth year in office, President Obama knows well attacks from the right. Obamacare, Benghazi, IRS shenanigans, he’s taken his lumps from Republicans and conservative activists. “Impeach him!” many cry. Only occasionally is he whacked from the left (see Guantánamo Bay prison camp).
But these days, it seems like the roles are reversed. Liberals are after Obama, while the likes of Republican political operative Karl Rove are in his corner.
The subject, of course, is government secret surveillance of phone records, a vacuum-cleaner approach whose purpose is heading off terrorist attacks but which pokes into what most people think of as private information.
“Big Data,” we are told, now includes the ability to surreptitiously obtain and store information from e-mail and social media, deriving information about peoples’ habits, friendships, and preferences using data-mining formulas and increasingly powerful computers. And you thought those full-body scanners at the airport left you feeling a bit … naked.
As president and commander-in-chief in charge of preventing the next terrorist attack, Obama has to take responsibility and explain such snooping to the American people, which he tried to do Friday in California.