Bush Defends NSA Surveillance
President Bush, told by a critic he should be ashamed of his policies, defended the government's secret eavesdropping program Thursday and said he would not apologize for listening in on the phone and e-mail conversations of Americans talking to people with suspected al-Qaida links.
A man who identified himself as Harry Taylor rose at a forum here to tell Bush that he's never felt more ashamed of the leadership of his country. He said Bush has asserted his right to tap phone calls without a warrant, to arrest people and hold them without charges and to revoke a woman's right to an abortion, among other things.
He was booed by the audience, but Bush interrupted and urged the audience to let Taylor finish.
"I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administraiton," Taylor said, standing in a balcony seat and looking down at Bush on stage. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself."
Bush defended the National Security Administration's survelliance program, saying he authorized the program to protect the country.
"You said would I apologize for that?" Bush told him. "The answer is absolutely not."
The challenge to the president came near the end of a lengthy appearance before the World Affairs Council of Charlotte, where he took questions from the audience. This has become a regular feature of Bush's appearances as he tries to revive public support for his leadership.
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