Bush says he was within the law in authorizing spy program

President &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/16691_Bush.html' target=_blank>George W. Bush on Monday rejected critics' assertion that he broke the law by authorizing domestic eavesdropping without a warrant, saying he was doing what Congress authorized him to do to protect Americans from &to=http://english.pravda.ru/letters/2001/09/12/14876.html' target=_blank>terrorist attacks.

With congressional hearings set to begin on this issue Feb. 6, Bush kicked his administration's new intensive public relations effort to win support for the program run by the National Security Agency. As part of that, he gave it a new label _ the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

Bush noted that hearings will open in Congress soon, and Sen. Pat Roberts, who accompanied the president here, was among the lawmakers on Capitol Hill who were given regular updates about the surveillance by the White House. Sen. Arlen Specter, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will preside over the hearings.

"It's amazing that people say to me, `Well, he's just breaking the law," the president said, with Roberts sitting behind him on stage at Kansas State University. "If I wanted to break the law, why was I briefing Congress?"