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Bush: Obama in office ‘realized the dangers’ facing US

Former President George W. Bush in an interview aired Sunday defended President Obama on his counterterrorism policies, saying that he believed his successor had “realized the dangers” the nation faced after entering office.

In an interview taped last week for ABC News, Bush was asked if he was surprised that Obama “kept in place so many of your counterterrorism programs, including those he criticized as a candidate.”

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“I think the President got into the Oval Office, and realized the dangers to the United States, and he's acted-- in a way that he thinks is necessary to protect the country,” said Bush, declining to criticize Obama.

“Protecting the country's the most important job of the presidency,” he added.

The disclosures of secret National Security Agency surveillance programs by leaker Edward Snowden have renewed debate about the government’s intelligence programs. 

In an interview with CNN aired last week, Bush also defended the Obama administration’s counterterror policies, noting that he had implemented many of the surveillance programs in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“One of the certainties was that civil liberties were guaranteed,” he said. “I think there needs to be a balance, and as the president explained, there is a proper balance.”

Bush has rarely spoken about policy issues since leaving the White House and has said he does not want to publicly criticize his successor, arguing that he understands the real pressures and demands of the Oval Office. 

"I don't think it does any good," Bush told CNN last week. "It's a hard job. He's got plenty on his agenda. It's difficult. A former president doesn't need to make it any harder. Other presidents have taken different decisions; that's mine."