Bush ‘nervous’ about NSA attacks

Bush ‘nervous’ about NSA attacks
© Greg Nash

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said that he’s “nervous” about excess criticism of the nation’s intelligence agencies.

In a radio interview on Monday, shortly after news broke that two people had tried to ram the gates of the National Security Agency’s headquarters in suburban Maryland, Bush rose to the defense of the agency and its mission. 

“I’ve always been nervous about the attacks on the NSA, and somehow that we’re losing our freedoms by keeping the homeland safe,” Bush told conservative host Hugh Hewitt.

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“I think we need to be really vigilant about that.”

Bush has been a staunch defender of the NSA, which grew in stature during his brother’s administration in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. 

That position has distinguished him somewhat from other expected Republican presidential hopefuls, such as Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), who have been more critical of the agency. In the two years since former NAS contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks about the agency, critics on both sides of the aisle have worried that its collection of bulk records about people’s communication poses a threat to their privacy.

The fault for that, Bush said, lies with President Obama.

“The president has to lead, has to explain to people that he’s actually enhanced the intelligence capabilities in many ways, because the technology has gotten better,” Bush said.

“But he never defends it; he never explains it. He never tries to persuade people that their civil liberties are being protected by the systems we have in place,” he added.

“If people knew that, I don’t think there would be any doubt that they’d want to have the ability to identify people from the outside that may be trying to coordinate with people on the inside.”

On Monday, one man was killed and another injured, when they failed to stop at the NSA facility’s gate. The two men were reportedly dressed as women and driving a stolen SUV with a gun and drugs in the vehicle, but federal officials have said the incident is not connected to a terrorism plot. Instead, it seems they may simply have made a wrong turn and failed to listen to guards' orders. 

An NSA guard was also injured during Monday’s incident.