Jeb Bush may be the little brother to George Bush, but remarks in South Carolina recently made him sound more like Big Brother to John Q. Public.
Bush argued that the government requires broader surveillance powers in an effort to deal with “evildoers.” He also stated that he hopes Congress will revisit the changes recently made to the Patriot Act that killed NSA bulk phone data collection.
ATLANTA — Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said Tuesday that the government should have broad surveillance powers of Americans and private technology firms should cooperate better with intelligence agencies to help combat “evildoers.”
At a national security forum in the early voting state of South Carolina, Bush put himself at odds with Republican congressional leaders who earlier this year voted to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records.
The former Florida governor said Congress should revisit its changes to the Patriot Act, and he dismissed concerns from civil libertarians who say the program violated citizens’ constitutionally protected privacy rights.
“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and NSA doing its job,” Bush said. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”
Bush also said the US should send more troops — he didn’t say how many — and equipment to Eastern European nations in response to Russia’s increasingly aggressive posture in the region. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin should know that his “adventurism” comes with “a price to pay.”
“Rather than reacting to the bad behavior, I think we need to be more forward-leaning as it relates to what the consequences will be,” Bush said.
The remarks were part of Bush’s ongoing efforts to pitch an aggressive foreign policy as he struggles to break out of a crowded Republican presidential primary in which businessman and former television reality star Donald Trump has garnered much of the attention.
Bush also criticized private technology firms for using encryption to make it harder for their customers to be surveilled. “It makes it harder for the American government to do its job while protecting civil liberties to make sure evildoers aren’t in our midst,” he said.
Noting that companies like Google are getting pressure from customers, Bush said “market share … should not be the be-all-end-all,” and he called for “a new arrangement with Silicon Valley in this regard.”
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