Bush Acknowledges Approving Eavesdropping
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday he
personally has authorized a secret eavesdropping
program in the U.S. more than 30 times since the Sept.
11 attacks and he lashed out at those involved in
publicly revealing the program.
"This is a highly classified program that is crucial
to our national security," he said in a radio address
delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.
"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against
the terrorists. It is critical to saving American
lives. The American people expect me to do everything
in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to
protect them and their civil liberties and that is
exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am
president of the United States," Bush said.
Angry members of Congress have demanded an explanation
of the program, first revealed in Friday's New York
Times and whether the monitoring by the National
Security Agency violates civil liberties.
Defending the program, Bush said in his address that
it is used only to intercept the international
communications of people inside the United States who
have been determined to have "a clear link" to
al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.
He said the program is reviewed every 45 days, using
fresh threat assessments, legal reviews by the Justice
Department, White House counsel and others, and
information from previous activities under the
Without identifying specific lawmakers, Bush said
congressional leaders have been briefed more than a
dozen times on the program's activities.
The president also said the intelligence officials
involved in the monitoring receive extensive training
to make sure civil liberties are not violated.
Appearing angry at times during his eight-minute
address, Bush left no doubt that he will continue
authorizing the program.
"I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a
continuing threat from al-Qaida and related groups,"