Newt Gingrich's Urge to Terrify and Spy on Americans

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In 2008, the former House speaker lamented the government's success in stopping terrorist attacks and called for intense eavesdropping



Oh boy.

During a 2008 appearance at a Huntington, N.Y., bookstore Newt Gingrich described seven years of success stopping terrorist attacks as "one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration."

How so?

"The more successful they've been at intercepting and stopping bad guys the less proof there is that we're in danger," he said. "The better they've done at making sure there isn't an attack the easier it is to say there was never going to be an attack anyway." And then this stunner: "It's almost as if they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us."   

Almost, eh?

What would it take to push it that extra little bit over the edge for you, Newt?

Gingrich goes on to say something that should itself disqualify him from the presidency. "I would divide the FBI into two agencies. I would have an anti-domestic crime FBI which was very cautious, very respectful of civil liberties, you are innocent until proven guilty," he said. "And I would have a small but very aggressive anti-terrorism agency. And I would frankly give them extraordinary ability to eavesdrop. And my first advice to civil libertarians is simple. Don't plot with terrorists."

Just how the Framers would've put it, I'm sure. 


My advice to civil libertarians: don't vote for Gingrich. And my advice to his campaign? Let the people know where you stand on this one. Here's text you can use in your next commercial: "Elect me in 2012 and I'll empower federal police with extraordinary latitude to aggressively spy on American families. That way if anybody is plotting a terrorist attack I can stop it, though I'll be tempted to just let it happen, to remind you how frightened you ought to be all the time. Never forget that I approve this message."
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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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