Almost immediately after the Republican National Committee adopted an error-filled resolution attacking the NSA and its telephone metadata program, current and former GOP officials took a strong stand against the resolution:
[T]he RNC resolution threatens to do great damage to the security of the nation. It would be foolhardy to end the program without ensuring that we remain safe from attack. This database provides a uniquely valuable capability for discovering new phone numbers associated with international terrorist organizations, including numbers that may be used by terrorist cells within the United States. Former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morrell has testified that having this capability might have prevented 9/11 and could help to prevent the next 9/11.
This is not a Democratic or a Republican program. Protecting Americans from terrorism should not be a partisan issue. The program was first launched under President George W. Bush. It was approved by Congressional leaders of both parties. And for good reason. It helps to keep Americans safe.
It may be appropriate to modify the program in certain respects, if that can be done without a significant loss in effectiveness, but abolishing it without any idea how to close the intelligence gap that 9/11 exposed is not a recipe for partisan advantage. It is a recipe for partisan oblivion.
Count us out.
Signatories included a current House intelligence committee member, Rep. Mike Pompeo, and a host of former Bush administration security officials: Attorney General Mukasey, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff, CIA Director Hayden, Homeland Security Adviser Wainstein, DOD Under Secretary Edelman, OLC head Bradbury, and me. Former Homeland Security committee chair Peter King expressed similar views even more colorfully.
In other contexts, I’ve called it Obama Derangement Syndrome, where suspicion of the President begins to distort GOP views of even the least politicized national security elements of government.
That really is a dead end.