Intelligence revealing that 50 Americans had joined extremist groups fighting in Syria's civil war, and thus also posed a threat of future terror attacks in the United States, is a perfect example of how the National Security Agency's spy program was working, former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Wednesday.
"This, to me, is the perfect case of what the NSA programs, that have been so controversial, are doing," Bolton told Fox News' "Happening Now."
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At least 50 Americans have joined extremist groups in Syria, working to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the Los Angeles Times
reported. Officials suggested the American fighters could also mount attacks within the United States.
Bolton indicated that Americans fighting with foreign terrorists are in the category of terrorists as well. He said it warranted knowing their communications with people in the U.S.
"I sure want to know who they are talking to. Are they talking to the same people? What other information are we going to find out about this to keep us safe in the future?" he asked.
Bolton said this example represented a "paradigm case" of what the NSA's metadata program was set up to find in order to protect the U.S. against terrorist attacks.
"If we can find numbers coming out of Syria, coming back into the United States, this is part of the effort that we should be undertaking to find out the potential for future attacks in this country," he said.
With so much conflict in Syria, Bolton suggested the United States could do little in a "three-way civil war." He said that declining U.S. influence in the Middle East was "allowing conditions to grow much worse."
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