By: Glenn Thrush
June 6, 2013 01:14 PM EDT
The outrage over President Barack Obama’s authorization of a nearly limitless federal dive into Americans’ phone records obscures a hiding-in-plain-sight truth about the 44th president many of his supporters have overlooked for years:
For all his campaign-trail talk of running the “most transparent administration” in U.S history, Obama never promised to reverse the 43rd president’s policies on domestic anti-terrorism surveillance — and he’s been good on his word.
Obama’s effort to strike what he’s repeatedly called “a balance” between personal liberty and homeland security has exposed what amounts to a split political personality: Candidate Obama often spoke about personal freedom with the passion of a constitutional lawyer — while Commander-in-Chief Obama has embraced and expanded Bush-era surveillance efforts like the 2011 extension of the Patriot Act, which paved the way for a secret court order allowing the gathering of Verizon phone records.
In an irony now being savored by his conservative critics, Obama administration officials are now relying on Republicans to defend him against charges from liberals and the libertarian right that he’s recklessly prioritized national security over personal liberty.