Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday supported government eavesdropping to prevent terrorism, but said a major controversy over presidential powers could have been avoided by obtaining court warrants.
Powell said that when he was in the Cabinet, he was not told that President George W. Bush authorized a warrantless National Security Agency surveillance operation after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week" Powell said he sees "absolutely nothing wrong with the president authorizing these kinds of actions" to protect the nation.
The New York Times reported on its Internet site Friday that the NSA has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States. The program bypassed the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Powell said Congress will need to judge whether Bush is correct in his assertion that he could approve eavesdropping without first obtaining court orders.
Powell, who also is a former chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, had no reservations when asked whether eavesdropping should continue.