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WASHINGTON - US President George W. Bush defended controversial US interrogation tactics and secret CIA prisons in an interview broadcast Monday and expressed frustration at being "second-guessed" overseas.

Rejecting charges that US questioners used torture to extract information from terrorism suspects, and dismissing international concerns about covert CIA facilities, Bush told NBC television: "Whatever we have done is legal."

"My job is to protect this country," he said in an interview recorded Friday. "And I'm going to within the law. And it gets second-guessed all the time by people who don't live in the United States."

"Let me remind you: September the 11th for them was a bad day; for us it was a change of attitude," he said as the United States marked five years since those attacks. "This isn't make-believe."

Bush also sharply attacked critics at home who have attacked his use of wiretaps without court authority and, implicitly, US lawmakers and military officials who have objected to certain interrogation tactics.

Referring to the use of secret CIA prisons to hold and question top Al-Qaeda suspects, the president declared: "People want to get rid of that program. It doesn't make any sense."

"I'm not going to talk about techniques that we use on people. One reason why is because we don't want the enemy to adjust. The American people need to know we're using techniques within the law to protect them," said Bush.

"We're developing tools within the Constitution to do so. Some people in this country want to get rid of them, and they're wrong. They're wrong," said the US president.

"You can't expect me and people in this government to do what we need to do to protect you and your family if we don't have the tools that we think are necessary to do so," Bush said.

09/11/2006 14:40 GMT

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