Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and rumored 2016 GOP Presidential candidate, defended the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program on Wednesday, calling it “hugely important” in the United States’ long-term battle against terrorism.
Bush addressed the surveillance program, which was enacted during the presidency of his brother George W. Bush, during a speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
“For the life of me, I don’t understand – the debate has gotten off track, where we’re not understanding and protecting,” said Bush. “We do protect our civil liberties, but this is a hugely important program to use these technologies to keep us safe.”
While trying to set himself apart from his brother, with comments such as “I am my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences” and “new circumstances require new approaches,” Jeb Bush towed the same line of thought regarding the NSA’s data collect and the “war on terror.”
“We must be prepared for a long-term commitment to fight this battle,” said Bush. “That requires responsible intelligence gathering and analysis, including the NSA metadata program, which contributes to awareness of potential terror cells and interdiction efforts on a global scale.”
Bush added that while the U.S. can respond to terrorist attacks “on many levels,” he feels the NSA’s surveillance program helps to prevent them. “The threats of the twenty-first century will not be the same as the threats of the twentieth and it is critical that we adapt to this change,” Bush said.
The Guardian noted that Bush’s stance on the program differed from Kentucky senator Rand Paul, another rumored 2016 GOP Presidential candidate. In March 2014, Reuters reported that Paul condemned the U.S. government’s massive surveillance program during a speech to students at the University of California, Berkeley.
“I’m not here to tell you what to be. I am here to tell you, though, that your rights, especially your right to privacy, are under assault,” said Paul. “I believe what you do on your cellphone is none of their damn business.“