Throwing the Intelligence Community Under the Bus

Over at Beacon, I examine the latest outcry to the NSA doing its legally mandated job abroad and come to the conclusion that it’s being thrown under the bus.

But perspective does not seem in generous supply in Washington. The political tide is shifting against the intelligence community, as more Congressman who until very recently publicly supported the NSA and collection efforts turn coat to demand it be restrained. President Obama’s aides are making noises much like Senator Feinstein, as if he is going to restrict the collection of “friendly” leaders.

It is an understandable reaction from Obama. Unlike even the war in Iraq, the issue of surveillance has created enormous diplomatic blowback for the government, and both France and Germany are acting far angrier than even when Donald Rumsfeld declared them irrelevant to their faces. Obama has to dosomething about this, the big question is what would make the most sense.

I sketched out some ideas afterward, but there really aren’t good choices at this point — the leaks have moved so far beyond protecting Americans’ civil liberties, and more recent revelations about operations in Europe have left me wondering just how badly the top-line reporters on this story have blown it (a recurring theme with them, to be gentle about it).

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joshua.foust
Joshua Foust is a writer and analyst who studies foreign policy.