March 25, 2017

STEWART BAKER: Surveillance Sauce For The Goose. Imagine it’s 2020 and Trump is spying on Democratic candidate Kamala Harris.

Faced with that scenario, who thinks the press would be mocking Harris’s claim that her campaign was wiretapped by its enemies? So why are reporters mocking Trump’s?

Fact is, there’s a very real problem at the bottom of President Trump’s complaints. The Obama administration decided to conduct what was bound to be one-sided surveillance. Any evidence the investigators turned up would hurt the President’s adversary, not his side. The same would be true of any leaks. And widespread distribution of intelligence from the investigation would dramatically increase the risk that his adversary will be hurt by leaks. If you’re the President, or anyone in his administration, what’s not to like?

Who made the decision to expose the Trump campaign to this scrutiny and the risks that came with it? Thanks to FISA, national security surveillance decisions must be made mainly by political appointees. This is meant to be a protection for civil liberties but it’s the reverse in a partisan context.

Indeed.

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