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American Forces Press Service

NSA Surveillance Saves American Lives, Bush says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2006 President Bush today reiterated the need for a terrorist surveillance program to save American lives and win the war on terrorism.

"I gave a speech to the men and women who are dedicating their lives to serving the American people and preventing this country from being attacked again," Bush said following his closed-door session at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md. He said the agency "is playing a crucial part in the war on terror."

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Bush authorized the agency to gather information on suspected terrorists by eavesdropping on certain international phone calls originating from within the United States. "This information has helped prevent attacks and save American lives," he said.

Bush said that it was important to understand the intentions of America's enemies before they strike, and the NSA surveillance is helping "connect the dots" about these intensions.

"When terrorist operatives are here in America communicating with someone overseas, we must understand what's going on if we're going to do our job to protect the people," Bush said. "The safety and security of the American people depend on our ability to find out who the terrorists are talking to, and what they're planning."

Bush also spoke about the legalities involved in the spying program, and the need to protect civil liberties.

"This terrorist surveillance program includes multiple safeguards to protect civil liberties, and it is fully consistent with our nation's laws and constitution," he said.

Bush has said previously that he briefed members of Congress about the NSA surveillance and that they authorized its use. "I have the authority, both from the Constitution and the Congress, to undertake this vital program," he said.

"In the long run, we can be confident in the outcome of this struggle, because we've seen the power of freedom to defeat tyranny and terror before," Bush said. "The American people expect me to protect their lives and their civil liberties, and that's exactly what we're doing with this program."


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