Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate, believes the government should be able to snoop more on Americans. Bush is pushing for private technology firms to work closer with government spying agencies against “evildoers.”
The frightening remarks were made at a national security forum in South Carolina on Friday.
Bush’s comments flew against the views of Republican congressional leaders who voted earlier this year to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records, though the program still continues to operate thanks to legal acrobatics.
Bush said Congress should revisit changes it made to the Patriot Act, dismissing concerns of civil libertarians who say the Act 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 attacked private technology firms for providing encryption for their customers and thus making it harder for them to be spied upon.
“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.
He said companies such as Google should ignore customer complaints about not enough encryption.
He said “market share … should not be the be-all-end-all,” calling for “a new arrangement with Silicon Valley in this regard.”
American technology companies have already lost significant business from foreign governments after it was revealed by Edward Snowden that the NSA had spied on virtually every major American technology company.
Bush also said he believed the U.S. should send more equipment and troops troops to eastern European nations in response to Russia’s aggressive moves in the region in order to show Russian President Vladimir Putin 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,” he said.
Political experts say Bush’s comments were part of his ongoing efforts to push an aggressive foreign policy as a way of making his mark and to break clear of a crowded Republican presidential primary scrum.
Bush is looking to close the gap on the party’s leading candidate, Donald Trump.