Bush: 'no doubt' NSA domestic surveillance program legal

[JURIST] In a press conference [transcript; recorded video] Thursday, US President George Bush continued his administration's defense of the controversial domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive], saying the program is legal and indicating that he may resist proposals by Congress to change it. Responding to a question on the surveillance program, Bush said:

There's no doubt in my mind it is legal.... There's no doubt in my mind there are safeguards in place to make sure the program focuses on calls coming from outside the United States in, with an al Qaeda -- from a -- with a belief that there's an al Qaeda person making the call to somebody here in the States, or vice versa -- but not domestic calls.

So as I stand here right now I can tell the American people the program is legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties, and it's necessary. Now, my concern has always been that in an attempt to try to pass a law on something that's already legal, we'll show the enemy what we're doing. And we have briefed Congress -- members of Congress. We'll continue to do that, but it's important for people to understand that this program is so sensitive and so important, that if information gets out to how it's -- how we do it, or how we operate, it will help the enemy. And so, of course, we'll listen to ideas. But, John, I want to make sure that people understand that if it -- if the attempt to write law makes this program -- is likely to expose the nature of the program, I'll resist it. And I think the American people understand that. Why tell the enemy what we're doing if the program is necessary to protect us from the enemy? And it is. And it's legal. And we'll continue to brief Congress. And we review it a lot, and we review not only at the Justice Department, but with a good legal staff inside NSA.
AP has more.

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