Former President George W. Bush defended PRISM, the Internet spying program he helped enact, while taking whistleblower Edward Snowden to task.
"I put that program in place to protect the country. One of the certainties was that civil liberties were guaranteed," Bush told CNN in an interview airing Monday.
"I think there needs to be a balance, and as the president explained, there is."
PRISM began under the Bush administration but stayed secret until The Washington Post and The Guardian (UK) revealed its existence last month.
It controversially allows the National Security Administration (NSA) to collect Internet and email data from some of the nation's biggest tech companies.
Bush, who spoke from Zambia, where he and his wife, Laura, are renovating a health clinic, was reflexive and nonspecific in his defense of PRISM.
This will surely fuel critics' case that it was approved with little oversight, however he has also gone to great lengths not to criticize the current administration.
Bush said that Edward Snowden, who leaked PRISM's existence and is believed to be in the transit zone of the Moscow airport, had harmed national security.
When asked if Snowden is a traitor to the U.S., Bush said, "I know he damaged the country." Pushed for more specifics, Bush repeated that very same line.