The NY Times traces the evolution of Obama on his "Path From Critic to Overseer of Spying".
Was he a poser, an opportunist or a liar for his Bush-bashing in 2007 and 2008? Nooo, he was (and is!) simply a man who cares passionately about protecting the American people:
WASHINGTON — As a young lawmaker defining himself as a presidential candidate, Barack Obama visited a center for scholars in August 2007 to give a speech on terrorism. He described a surveillance state run amok and vowed to rein it in. “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens,” he declared. “No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.”
More than six years later, the onetime constitutional lawyer is now the commander in chief presiding over a surveillance state that some of his own advisers think has once again gotten out of control.
Like other presidents before him, the idealistic candidate skeptical of government power found that the tricky trade-offs of national security issues look different to the person charged with using that power to ensure public safety.
Aides said that even as a senator, Mr. Obama supported robust surveillance as long as it was legal and appropriate, and that as president he still shares the concerns about overreach he expressed years ago. But they said his views have been shaped to a striking degree by the reality of waking up every day in the White House responsible for heading off the myriad threats he finds in his daily intelligence briefings.
“When you get the package every morning, it puts steel in your spine,” said David Plouffe, the president’s longtime adviser. “There are people out there every day who are plotting. The notion that we would put down a tool that would protect people here in America is hard to fathom.”
"Hard to fathom". Yet to earnest progressives, no doubt including Barack and Michelle, Dick Cheney is, well, Dick Cheney. Glenn Greenwald described progressive angst over Obama's transformation three years ago:
The American Right constantly said during the Bush years that any President who knew what Bush knew and was faced with the duty of keeping the country safe would do the same thing. Obama has provided the best possible evidence imaginable to prove those claims true.
And now Obama's aides are saying what we all knew.
The Times reporter askes us to endure a lot of rationalizations. One of my favorites is this "Trust me; After all, I trust myself" defense:
Mr. Obama undertook no major overhaul of the surveillance programs he inherited. “He’s sitting on the other end of the pen now,” said the former Obama aide. “He has more information than he did then. And he trusts himself to use these powers more than he did the Bush administration.”
Critics were told to go whistle:
When civil liberties advocates visited to press him to do more to reverse Mr. Bush’s policies, Mr. Obama pushed back. “He reminded me that he had a different role to play, that he was commander in chief and that he needed to protect the American people,” recalled Mr. Romero of the A.C.L.U.
Right, an argument Bush never thought of.
We are offered reassurance as to the wisdom of the American people:
He was surprised at the uproar that ensued [over the Snowden papers], advisers said, particularly that so many Americans did not trust him, much less trust the oversight provided by the intelligence court and Congress. As more secrets spilled out, though, aides said even Mr. Obama was chagrined. They said he was exercised to learn that the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was being tapped.
In other words, we didn't trust Obama to provide adequate oversight, and we learned (as did he, apparently) that he wasn't. Was it his weaponization of the IRS? The appointment of an Obama donor to lead the FBI "investigation"? Or did We The People sense that Barry was probably distracted from the NSA and fully absorbed by the implementation of HealthCare.Fail? Ooops.
Let me close with a priceless bit of psychoanalysis from the First Shrink:
Mr. Obama largely left [the security agencies] alone until Mr. Snowden began disclosing secret programs last year. Mr. Obama was angry at the revelations, privately excoriating Mr. Snowden as a self-important narcissist who had not thought through the consequences of his actions.
We'll file that under "Takes One To Know One".