Many of the fights over the Patriot Act’s provisions resembled fights the parties had in the 1970s about “law and order”—both rooted in disagreements over the reach of Fourth Amendment protections, not to mention opposed notions of common sense. Once the Patriot Act breached this wall, its goal of catching terrorists became a secondary concern to the act’s opposition.
With one exception: President Barack Obama. It may be true that George Bush’s successor replaced “war on terror” with “overseas contingency operation.” But President Obama kept most of the security tools Mr. Bush put in place to fight whatever you want to call it, such as the overseas contingency operation that forced Osama bin Laden into permanent retirement. Note also that with Bush departed, the partisan opposition is, too.
The kinship of 9/11 may be gone, but there is solace in knowing that whichever fractious party sits in the Oval Office, it remains common policy to ensure the protection of the American people, whether they want it or not. If that’s the most unity we can muster this week, I’ll take it.