President Obama defended the government’s internet surveillance as a “modest encroachment” on the privacy of Americans, but he maintained that the programs initiated by George W. Bush help keep Americans safe, adding that he increased oversight of the surveillance.

Obama warmed to the Bush-era Patriot Act programs after taking office. “We actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards, but my assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks,” the president told reporters. “And the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without looking at content . . . it was worth us doing.”

The president said that he took office with “a healthy skepticism” of the programs.”There are a whole range of safeguards involved and federal judges are overseeing the entire program,” he told reporters today.