Bush defends surveillance programs, says Snowden ‘damaged’ U.S.

Former president George W. Bush said in an interview airing Monday that Edward Snowder has "damaged" the security of the United States by leaking information about secret programs -- programs Bush defended as respectful of civil liberties.

"I know he damaged the country," Bush told CNN. "The Obama administration will deal with it."

Bush said he instituted the programs to protect the country and that protection of privacy was always a concern.

"I put the program in place to protect the country, and one of the certainties is 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, of course, dealt with similar concerns about his surveillance programs -- particularly his warrantless wiretapping program.

Bush, like President Obama, is currently in Africa. The two are expected to meet Monday at the U.S. embassy in Tanzania.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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