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President Bush Defends Obama’s NSA Surveillance Program (VIDEO)

Former President George W. Bush on Thursday defended some of the cellphone data-gathering tactics used by the National Security Agency that have caused a public uproar in recent weeks, saying America’s “still at risk” and it’s about “connecting the dots” in the war on terror.

“There’s kind of a view that maybe they’ve gone away – they haven’t,” Bush said, referring to terrorists. “And now, techniques used to prevent attacks have been disclosed. I don’t know if you remember after 9/11, Congress had hearings, right? And you know what the hearings were about? We didn’t connect the dots. Well, we didn’t have the tools there to connect the dots.”

“One of the killers makes a phone call from San Diego to somewhere, how come you didn’t know? We didn’t have the tools. We’ve got the tools. Now the people in Congress are saying, ‘Why are you connecting the dots?’ It’s a tough assignment for the president. It is.”

Bush made the comments as part of a private, hour-long talk he gave during the annual general assembly meeting of the Western Riverside Council of Governments, which consists of representatives from city councils and public agencies in that region of Southern California – known as Republican-friendly territory.

The former president’s paid appearance was closed to the public and media.

The College Fix obtained an audio recording of the president’s address, during which he also spoke on the economy, immigration, Sept. 11, baseball and other topics in a dinnertime talk that was at times casual, at times serious.

Although Bush did not mention the Patriot Act by name, his comment that “techniques used to prevent attacks have been disclosed” was apparently in reference to recent revelations that the government collects American’s phone records and similar data for national security purposes.

Bush did not specifically address the news that, under President Barack Obama’s administration, government agencies have used the 11-year-old law to exponentially increase the amount of mass data collected on Americans, including emails, social media posts and similar information.

Bush also did not mention the data-mining program PRISM, which reportedly connects the dots between all the metadata collected by the government from companies such as Verizon and Google.

The disclosure about PRISM – made earlier this month by former NSA tech consultant and government whistleblower Edward Snowden – generated a firestorm of controversy, and prompted Americans to question whether they prefer freedom and privacy over a sense of safety.

Bush, in his talk, said Americans are “still at risk.”

Commenting on his thoughts the morning of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush said “I vowed … I would do everything within the law to protect the United States of America, that is by far the most important job of the president.”

The Patriot Act was signed into law during the aftermath of the attacks, in October 2001.

“I’ve made a lot of tough decisions … but I hope my citizens understand that they are all designed to uphold the constitution and protect the American people,” Bush said. “People forget – there are a lot of threats. … Until free societies marginalize radicals, this nation is still at risk. We are in an ideological conflict, facing people who murder the innocent to advance their point of view.”

It was at this point Bush defended “connecting the dots” through clandestine technologies.

Bush also touched on the notion of democracy spreading across the globe, and America’s role in that movement.

“One of the things that really troubles me is isolationism,” he said. “I promise you, if the United States withdraws from the world, vacuums are created, and in the vacuums will flow elements that are not in the interest of human kind. We’re badly needed.”

Bush, who launched the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, spoke on what some people contend is the slow pace of democracy spreading in the Middle East as a result of American interventionism.

“People say, ‘Well, there’s no democracy yet.’ Well, you know what I understand about democracy? We enslaved Condi’s relatives for a hundred years,” he said, referring to Condoleezza Rice, a black woman who served as secretary of state for Bush.

“What are we talking about instituting democracy and fairness?” he said. “Democracy is a work in progress. It takes time. … We’ve gotta have some patience, some perseverance – and faith – that the democratic system is the only way for there to be peace in the long run. … I believe the Arab Spring is the beginnings of peace.”

Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix.

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IMAGE: Joseph Akomodi/Flickr

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CF1 from The College Fix on Vimeo.

About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

Add to the Discussion

  • chylene6599

    Hey, Mr. Bush! How much money did you make on all the insider trading that happened around the time the towers fell and the evidence got wiped out by those airplanes? And that 2.5 trillion missing from the DOD account that Rumsfield told you all about the day before the missle plowed into the very office in the pentagon that was investigating it? Neat trick! And what about the 14 countries that tried to notify you guys about 9/11 in the first place? They forgot to charge the cellphone? The Chechen brothers got past 150 or so armed guards and dogs with cooking equipment and they missed their Facebook, twitter e-mail: Hey, we taxpayers want our 40 billion back!

  • Helldogger

    Many of my fellow conservatives get mad at me when I tell them GWB gave you Pelosi/Reid Obama.

    • inabunker

      How true and I’m a conservative!

    • libertyordeath

      Yes. Republican =/= conservative.


      • Helldogger

        Sorry Steph you were too busy shopping to pay attention. But Bush/Hastert/Frisk worked double time turning the govt over to the communist.
        Let me guess, you fell for the Romney trick.

  • Dixie Trent

    Republicans cannot get the advantage over Democrats in a presidential election now—and they KNOW IT. Republicans cannot do it alone. The Tea Party cannot do it alone, either!

    I suggest WE ALL go to the Libertarian Party and read ALL of their policies and beliefs (http://www.lp.org/platform). Then I suggest we pressure the Tea Party and conservative Republicans to schedule a “conference” with the Libertarian Party ASAP. This will also send a BIG MESSAGE to both crony Republicans and their Democrat counterparts.

    • d ghbhb


  • Bill Snoot

    Why is that dirtbag Bush not rotting in a prison cell? He lied to and betrayed our troops and that’s murder. He murdered our troops, and you bottom feeders who supported him belong in the same prison.

    • d ghbhb

      what thehellyoutalkngabout??????????

  • shipley130

    Is that why mosques are off limits, because they want to connect the dots?

  • raintyday

    Maybe someone besides Obamas clan should see how Obama has made changes to the program OR if Obama is abiding by the rules. If he is it would be a HUGE change for Obama! He doesn’t believe in protocol, the constitution, religious freedom, rules or laws. As he has proven to date. Can Bush ensure us the program is still in order or is it being abused like the IRS? NO! Only Obamas inter clan can do that AND THEY WON”T, no matter who’s head is on the block! The world has become a “me” nation.

  • James Beaufort

    President Bush, whom I like and admire, is nevertheless an establishment Republican and at times a Liberal Republican. He is not a Conservative. NSA can and does listen to our phone calls without a search warrant.

    Also, I beg Jeb Bush to go home and stay there. We do not need yet another Bush in the White House.

    • d ghbhb

      rand paul looks better every day


    • snookum2

      He is not a liberal replican at times. He is a leftist republican at times. I will no longer honor those evil bstrds by calling them liberals which is the exact opposite of what they are. They are suppressive/oppressive. The polar opposite of liberal.

  • d ghbhb

    boyoboy was i ever wrong about this guy – he IS a closet liberal – and i voted for theterd. we did not enslave negroes , some of previous generations did and many of them were negroes and furthermore a half million white people gave their lives in a civil war to stop it

  • d ghbhb

    – democrats totally suk
    – republicans are too often liberals in disguise
    – liberatarians concentrate too much on really dumb issues but they are the best of the bunch

  • d ghbhb

    any republican that defends that illegal outlaw evil bstrd in the white house is a pieceofsht

    • Honestygirl62

      Your an ignorant, in need of some schooling, Moron.

  • Soldier

    No such thing as a Republican Politician now a days, they’re just as Left as the rest of the Liberals that want to butt rape America to Death.