Bush Visits Top Secret National Security Agency

President Bush urged Congress to broaden surveillance activities and make the new eavesdropping law permanent after a visit to the National Security Agency.

Passed by Congress in August, the Protect America Act was a temporary fix to the eavesdropping law and will expire in February.

"The problem is the law expires on Feb. 1 -- that's 135 days from today.  The threat from al Qaeda is not going to expire in 135 days," Bush said, flanked by Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend, and NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander.

The president argued the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is "dangerously out of date" and new technologies like disposable cell phones and the Internet aren't taken into consideration within its provisions.


Bush argued for more tools in the intelligence community to protect America from another attack.

"Without these tools, it will be harder to figure out what our enemies are doing to train, recruit and infiltrate operatives into America," Bush said. "Without these tools our country will be much more vulnerable to attack."

Bush put pressure on Congress saying, "The decisions Congress makes will directly affect our ability to save American lives."

In support of updating the law, Bush said, "Unfortunately, some in Congress now want to restrict the tools.  These restrictions would impede the flow of information that helps us protect our people.  These restrictions would reopen gaps in our intelligence that we had just closed."

However, many members of Congress and civil liberties groups don't agree with new changes in FISA because they believe the law impedes citizens' privacy.

The timing of the president's visit to the NSA comes as hearings on FISA are being held on Capitol Hill with the Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell testifying Tuesday

"9/11 should have and could have been prevented. It was an issue of connecting information that was available," McConnell said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.