PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–Chris Stigall analyzed the political ramifications of President Obama’s reforms to data collection by the National Security Agency with political consultants Michael Bronstein and Jeff Roe this morning on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT. On Friday, the President announced he is limiting access to phone and data records following the uproar caused after revelations of widespread collection of communications information by the intelligence agency.
Stigall asked Roe, a Republican consultant from Axiom Strategies, where the public stands on this issue. He responded that, “the voters and the public are against N.S.A. spying, they are against metadata collection. Voters are uniquely clear on this.”
Meanwhile he says, “Politicians are split. The hard left and the hard right agree, but the middle is pretty convoluted.” Roe continued that from a security perspective the debate over data collection presents a difficult choice saying, “I’m sure if I was standing behind the frosted glass of a House Select Committee on Intelligence and I saw this data working on our behalf, I’d be hard pressed to give it up. But the ramifications of the political overtones are crystal clear and that is the American people are against it.”
Ultimately, he revealed he would counsel candidates to push back against data collection because, “the reason why there is a congress is to hold these agencies in check. That oversight is critical.”
Bronstein, a Democratic consultant from Bronstein and Weaver, told Stigall that he agreed with Roe about how to consult candidates on the politics of the data collection issue, but said it becomes more complex once they take office because, “as soon as you get someone elected they see what’s going on on the other side of the wall, a lot of the time they know that information is really important. You see someone like President Obama, who made this a campaign issue and he finds himself on the other side. He knows his job is to protect Americans, first and foremost, [but] he moves into the Executive Branch and basically argues for a lot of the policies that he might not have supported earlier on.”
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When assessing the actual reforms announced by the President, Bronstein was skeptical summarized that, “a similar policy was going to continue, but essentially that it wouldn’t be done in the same way, and that is a very hedged argument.”
He concluded that, “Americans are right to be concerned about it and it is healthy to have this kind of debate, but also the government needs to be able to function on a day to day level.”