Washington - The administration was sharply divided over the legality of President Bush's most controversial eavesdropping policies, a congressman quoted former Attorney General John Ashcroft as telling a House panel Thursday.
'It is very apparent to us that there was robust and enormous debate within the administration about the legal basis for the president's surveillance program,' Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told reporters after a closed-door meeting with Ashcroft.
The point is critical to two matters being considered in the Democratic-controlled Congress: One is the House and Senate Intelligence committees' ongoing review of 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which includes an extensive examination of the president's warrantless eavesdropping program.
The other is the House and Senate Judiciary Committees' parallel examinations of current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' service to the administration. Under that probe, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey revealed that Gonzales, then White House counsel, tried to pressure him and a critically ill Ashcroft to certify the legality of the wiretapping program. ...
Democrats have insisted that the hospital story appears to contradict Gonzales' congressional testimony that there had been no significant disagreement within the administration over the program. Gonzales has stood by his testimony.
Friday, June 22, 2007