Excerpts from President Bush's radio address yesterday, as released by the White House:
As president, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and I have no greater responsibility than to protect our people, our freedom, and our way of life.
On September the 11th, 2001, our freedom and way of life came under attack by brutal enemies who killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans. We're fighting these enemies across the world. Yet in this first war of the 21st century, one of the most critical battlefronts is the home front. And since September the 11th, we've been on the offensive against the terrorists plotting within our borders.
One of the first actions we took to protect America after our nation was attacked was to ask Congress to pass the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act tore down the legal and bureaucratic wall that kept law enforcement and intelligence authorities from sharing vital information about terrorist threats. . . . Since then, America's law enforcement personnel have used this critical law to prosecute terrorist operatives and supporters, and to break up terrorist cells in New York, Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas, and Ohio. The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do: It has protected American liberty and saved American lives.
Yet key provisions of this law are set to expire in two weeks. The terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks. . . . The House of Representatives passed reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Yet a minority of senators filibustered to block the renewal of the Patriot Act when it came up for a vote yesterday [Friday]. . . . The senators who are filibustering must stop their delaying tactics, and the Senate must vote to reauthorize the Patriot Act. . . .
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with US law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations.
Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks. This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. . . . Yesterday [Friday] the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. . . .
As the 9/11 commission pointed out, it was clear that terrorists inside the United States were communicating with terrorists abroad before the September the 11th attacks, and the commission criticized our nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists here at home and terrorists abroad.
Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon -- Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdar -- communicated while they were in the United States to other members of Al Qaeda who were overseas. . . .
The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities . . . have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad. The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland.