ABC’s Michael Falcone reports:
On the eve of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s much-anticipated speech on national security and civil liberties in Philadelphia on Tuesday, a Republican super PAC is launching a pre-emptive strike, calling her record on these issues “one of political expedience over privacy or national security.”
“She simply cannot be trusted,” Tim Miller, the executive director of the super PAC, America Rising, wrote in a memo released first to ABC News.
The six-page research document outlines what Miller’s group asserts is Clinton’s “disingenuous track record on privacy and national security” matters. Along with the memo, America Rising, is also unveiling a paid online campaign called, “You Can’t Trust Hillary on Privacy,” which will include Facebook and Twitter ads as well as a new look for the organization’s StopHillary2016.org website.
Clinton is scheduled to give a speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday evening — the same night President Obama is planning an address to the nation on Syria.
The memo attempts to show Clinton’s shifting attitudes toward surveillance programs and civil liberties over the years. It notes that in 2008, Clinton voted against re-authorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Protect America Act, which authorized the e-mail data-mining program known as PRISM that came to light in documents revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year.
The Republican opposition researchers, who have taken a laser-like focus on Clinton as the early contours of the 2016 presidential campaign take shape, also dug up this 2006 quote from her: “Unchecked mass surveillance without judicial review may sometimes be legal but it is dangerous. Every president should save those powers for limited critical situations,” Clinton said, according to an Associated Press article from that year.
Miller writes, “Clinton positioned herself as a sharp critic of the Bush Administration’s use of the National Security Agency for intelligence gathering that involved programs that obtained domestic intelligence, and voted against bills authorizing these efforts. However, in 2009 Clinton became a key player in the national security team that engaged in and expanded these very practices.”
The memo attempts to tie Clinton directly to the controversial Obama administration policies that have attracted scrutiny in the wake of the Snowden disclosures and points to evidence purporting to show the “depth of her knowledge about intelligence gathering.”
Though Clinton has not said whether she will run for president in 2016, her busy public schedule since stepping down as secretary of state as well as her decision to deliver a series of policy speeches, including the one on Tuesday night, offers more evidence that she may be moving in that direction. And in the absence of any declared Republican opponents, Monday’s memo and other work by America Rising, which got off the ground in March, represents its attempt to provide a counter-weight to the Democrat many Republicans acknowledge would be an extremely formidable presidential candidate three years from now.
“While we do not know what Clinton will say, we do know that her remarks will not be driven by concerns over either national security or privacy, but rather by politics, just as her positions on these issues were during her 2008 presidential campaign and her time in the Senate,” Miller wrote in the memo titled, “Clinton Can’t Be Trusted On Privacy.”
With the debate over authorizing a military strike on Syria raging in Washington, and Clinton expected to deliver a short statement on the matter at the White House on Monday, America Rising is poised to rebut Clinton on that issue too.
Through a spokesperson, Clinton has already endorsed President Obama’s plan for limited U.S. military action. “Secretary Clinton supports the president’s effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime’s horrific use of chemical weapons,” a Clinton aide told ABC News last week.
“Our group will also be pointing out her efforts to make concessions to the Assad regime and their backers during her tenure,” Miller told ABC News.