George Bush: No regrets over PRISM spy program

On visit to Africa, former President George W. Bush says ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden damaged U.S. national security.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
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Former President George W. Bush defended the surveillance measures put in place during his tenure as necessary to fight terrorism.

In a CNN interview published Monday, Bush did allow that there needed to be a balance in the tradeoff between greater security and privacy concerns.

"I think there needs to be a balance, and as the president explained, there is a proper balance," Bush said. Referring more specifically to the disclosures about the National Security Agency's surveillance activities in its PRISM spy program, Bush said, "I put that program in place to protect the country. One of the certainties was that civil liberties were guaranteed."

Bush didn't refrain from commenting on whether former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked a trove of documents relating to the spy program, had harmed U.S. national security.

"I know he damaged the country; the Obama administration will deal with it," Bush said after being asked whether he thought Snowden was a traitor. "I think he damaged the security of the country."

"Ultimately, history will judge the decisions I made," Bush added, responding to a broader question about his place in history. "I won't be around because it's going to take awhile for the objective historians to show up. And so I'm pretty comfortable with it. I did what I did. I know the spirit in which I did it."