The security of the United States has been compromised due to the recent disclosure of documents pertaining to secretive government-run surveillance programs, former president George W. Bush told CNN in an interview set to air Monday.
Bush, the two-term president who authorized the National Security
Agency spy programs as a counterterrorism tool shortly after the
September 11, 2001 attacks, told CNN that the recent leaks
attributed to 30-year-old former intelligence contactor Edward
Snowden have hurt the US.
“I think he damaged the security of the country,” Bush
said of Snowden’s leaks.
The remark, made in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett while
the former president was visiting Africa, is not scheduled to air
until Monday afternoon. In a snippet already available on the
Web, however, viewers can see Mr. Bush open up about the NSA
scandal for the first time since The Guardian newspaper began
publishing documents provided by Snowden.
Since The Guardian’s initial report on June 6, that paper and
others have sporadically published additional proof of the NSA’s
widespread practices started under President Bush and continued
under President Barack Obama that have placed the everyday
Internet and phone habits of millions of Americans and others
under the microscope of the federal government.
President Obama and members of both his administration and the
Bush White House have repeatedly defended the surveillance
programs in the wake of the first exposÃ© published by the
newspaper, notwithstanding accusations brought by the likes of
Congress and concerned citizens alike that the government has
committed vast constitutional violations by infringing on Fourth
Amendment-guaranteed protections from unlawful search and
Speaking to CNN, Bush not only condemned Snowden’s actions but
defended the surveillance policies he signed off on more than a
“I put that program in place to protect the country,” Bush
said. “One of the certainties was that civil liberties were
Although the leaked documents provided by Snowden in recent weeks
have only started to expose the scope of the surveillance
program, they weren’t the first disclosure made about the
initiatives. The New York Times first blew the whistle on Bush’s
warrantless wiretapping program in late 2005, prompting the
then-president to make a statement during a weekly radio address
just days later.
“The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after
September the Eleventh helped address that problem in a way that
is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and
authorities,” Bush said at the time.
“This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the
terrorists,” he added, calling it “critical to saving
“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, so
long as I’m the President of the United States,” Bush said.
Now as more is learned due to Snowden’s disclosures, the
practices of both the Bush and Obama administrations are under
attack. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration last month
accusing the White House of denying them a “reasonable
expectation of privacy, free speech and association, right to be
free of unreasonable searches and seizures and due process
rights,” and the current commander-in-chief has previously
resorted to making remarks similar to the latest quips courtesy
of Mr. Bush in order to defend the NSA’s habits.
“In the abstract you can complain about Big Brother and how
this is a potential program run amok, but when you actually look
at the details then I think we’ve struck the right balance,”
Pres. Obama said last month.
Speaking to CNN, Mr. Bush said, “I think there needs to be a
balance, and as the president explained, there is a proper
Bush isn’t the first from a major figure from Washington to
remark about an alleged security breach in the wake of Snowden’s
disclosures, either. NSA Director Keith Alexander said previously
that “Our security is jeopardized” due to the leak.
Michael Hayden, who served as director of the NSA under both
President Bush and Obama, told RT previously that Snowden’s
“commitment to absolute transparency has created great harm to
the security of people around the world.”
Adding to CNN, Bush said he thinks Obama “will deal” with
the fallout of the leaks properly. Snowden has been indicted with
counts of espionage and could spend decades in prison if
extradited to the US and convicted during trial. He is currently
reported to be in Moscow, Russia.
In only the three weeks since The Guardian first revealed that
telephony metadata was being collected on a widespread scale, new
leaks – including those published as recently as this weekend –
have exposed how the NSA taps into the servers of major Internet
companies and conducts surveillance targeting foreign consulates
and missions. Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist who first
reported on the leaked documents, said that Snowden had archived
“thousands” of files of which he believed “dozens”
were newsworthy. Greenwald added that precautions have been taken
to ensure that documents would continue to be leaked should
either of the men’s safety become compromised, and on Monday he
wrote on Twitter that “Snowden’s leak is basically done.”
“It’s newspapers – not Snowden – deciding what gets disclosed
and in what sequence,” wrote Greenwald.
Republished with permission from:: RT