The Corner

George W. Bush Defends Surveillance

Jennifer Kabbany of The College Fix has an exclusive:

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 . . .

Read the whole thing, and listen to the audio file.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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