Bush defends NSA spying program (2006)
Senators back hearings as president explains campaign remarks
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush on Sunday defended his administration’s use of wiretaps on U.S. citizens without a court order, saying comments he made in 2004 that “nothing has changed” in the use of wiretaps were not misleading.
He also said that the recent exposure of the clandestine wiretapping program — which set off a storm of criticism and controversy — harms the country.
Democratic and Republican senators on Sunday expressed support for congressional hearings to review the program, which President Bush secretly authorized shortly after the September 11 attacks.
It allows the National Security Agency to intercept domestic communications without a warrant, as long as one party is outside the United States.
The president has come under heated criticism from many lawmakers, particularly Democrats, who have questioned the legality of the program.
Critics say that judicial checks and balances are a critical part of government and that the courts have a record of supporting presidential requests for wiretaps important for U.S. security.
Bush on Sunday described his program as “necessary to win this war and to protect the American people,” and added that the program has been reviewed “constantly” by Justice Department officials.
He said Congress has been briefed about it, although some lawmakers have denied being informed of the program.
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