McCain weighs in on NSA ruling: 'People seem to have forgotten 9/11'

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainHigh anxiety for GOP Trump: 'Very disappointed' GOP senator dropped support GOP senator: I'd consider Clinton Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Ariz.) is “very worried” about Thursday’s federal appeals court decision that struck down the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American’s phone records, he said Thursday on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”

“We have to have the ability to monitor these communications,” he said.

“It’s pretty clear that 9/11 could have been prevented if we had known about some of the communications that were linked to those who committed the terrible atrocity of 9/11.”

McCain added that the government has to balance that capacity with privacy and admitted that it has overstepped from “time to time.” While he called for a public debate to come to an agreement that balances privacy with security, he said it’s integral that Americans “understand” the threat.

“People seem to have forgotten 9/11,” he said.

“People don’t understand that there are thousands of young people all over the world who are motivated by this radical brand of Islam, which is our enemy.”

Those comments came just hours after a federal appeals court in New York ruled the NSA’s controversial data collection “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized” in the Patriot Act, which was passed on the heels of the 9/11 attacks. The decision did not address the constitutionality of the program, only whether it was authorized under existing law.

The program captures “metadata” — which includes the numbers involved in the call, its duration and date — on millions of phone calls. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the program's existence in a number of leaks to media organizations, and privacy advocates have since warned that the program is an intrusion into the privacy of Americans.

Congress is currently faced with a renewal of portions of the Patriot Act, including the section of which the government based its authorization of the metadata program, Section 215.