- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone calls is a key part of keeping the nation safe.

Mr. Bush, speaking at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said the surveillance program is one of the tools that is needed to thwart potential terrorist attacks on American soil.

“These attacks require response on many levels, but most of all we should focus on preventing them,” Mr. Bush said. “That requires responsible intelligence gathering and analyses, including the NSA metadata program, which contributes to awareness of potential terror cells and interdiction efforts on a global scale.”

Mr. Bush said that “for the life of me, I don’t understand” how the debate has gotten off-track over the idea that the program tramples on individual liberties.

“We do protect our civil liberties, but this is a hugely important program to use these technologies to keep us safe,” he said.

Mr. Bush is laying the foundation for a possible presidential run, and is widely considered the front-runner for the 2016 GOP nomination.

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