Wednesday, May 16, 2007

DOJ Determined NSA CATCH-ALL Program Was Illegal

The blogosphere is reacting to the story of Alberto Gonzales' and Andrew Card's visit to pressure then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on his sick bed as if it is "news."

Hardly.

On New Year's Day 2006, the story was featured on this very blog, with the added revelation that the episode was behind Ashcroft's resignation as AG.

Yesterday's testimony by James Comey did yield a few additional tidbits, including the heretofore unpublicized involvement of President Bush in the matter.

President Bush intervened in March 2004 to avert a crisis over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program after Attorney General John Ashcroft, Director Robert S. Mueller III of the F.B.I. and other senior Justice Department aides all threatened to resign, a former deputy attorney general testified Tuesday.

Mr. Bush quelled the revolt over the program's legality by allowing it to continue without Justice Department approval, also directing department officials to take the necessary steps to bring it into compliance with the law, according to Congressional testimony by the former deputy attorney general, James B. Comey.

Although a conflict over the program had been disclosed in The New York Times, Mr. Comey provided a fuller account of the 48-hour drama, including, for the first time, Mr. Bush's role, the threatened resignations and a race as Mr. Comey hurried to Mr. Ashcroft's hospital sickbed to intercept White House officials, who were pushing for approval of the N.S.A. program. ...

Mr. Comey, the former No. 2 official in the Justice Department, said the crisis began when he refused to sign a presidential order reauthorizing the program, which allowed monitoring of international telephone calls and e-mail of people inside the United States who were suspected of having terrorist ties. He said he made his decision after the department's Office of Legal Counsel, based on an extensive review, concluded that the program did not comply with the law. At the time, Mr. Comey was acting attorney general because Mr. Ashcroft had been hospitalized for emergency gall bladder surgery.

Mr. Comey would not describe the rationale for his refusal to approve the eavesdropping program, citing its classified nature.

2 Comments:

Blogger Meatball One said...

Another EFFWIT trophy. Congrats

5/16/2007 11:05 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...

M1:

Thanks much.

5/17/2007 8:15 AM  

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