Cheney tapped on wire charges


Summary

The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal disputes within the Bush administration over the legality of the President’s wiretapping program.

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Also named in subpoenas signed by the committee’s chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, were the Justice Department and the National Security Council.

“Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection,” Senator Leahy says in his cover letters for the subpoenas.

“There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee.”

White House might ignore requests

Echoing its response to previous congressional subpoenas to former administration officials Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor, the White House gave no indication that it would comply.

“We’re aware of the committee’s action and will respond appropriately,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto says.

“It’s unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation.”

Senator Leahy’s committee and its counterpart in the House of Representatives have issued the subpoenas as part of a sweeping look at how much influence the White House exerts over the Justice Department and its chief, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

But with senators of both parties already concerned about the constitutionality of the administration’s efforts to root out terrorism suspects in the United States, the committee shifted to the broader question of Mr Gonzales’ stewardship of Justice and, in particular, his willingness to permit the wiretapping program.

Piquing the committee’s interest was vivid testimony last month by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey about the extent of the White House’s effort to override the Justice Department’s objections to the program in 2004.

The White House recertified the program unilaterally.

Mr Bush ultimately relented and made changes to the classified program that the Justice officials had demanded, and the agency eventually recertified it.

The fight was one of the most bitter disputes of the Bush presidency and questions remain over whether the program tramples people’s civil rights.


The committee wants documents that might shed light on internal disputes within the Bush administration over the legality of the President’s wiretapping program.

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Also named in subpoenas signed by the committee’s chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, were the Justice Department and the National Security Council.

“Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection,” Senator Leahy says in his cover letters for the subpoenas.

“There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee.”

White House might ignore requests

Echoing its response to previous congressional subpoenas to former administration officials Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor, the White House gave no indication that it would comply.

“We’re aware of the committee’s action and will respond appropriately,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto says.

“It’s unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation.”

Senator Leahy’s committee and its counterpart in the House of Representatives have issued the subpoenas as part of a sweeping look at how much influence the White House exerts over the Justice Department and its chief, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

But with senators of both parties already concerned about the constitutionality of the administration’s efforts to root out terrorism suspects in the United States, the committee shifted to the broader question of Mr Gonzales’ stewardship of Justice and, in particular, his willingness to permit the wiretapping program.

Piquing the committee’s interest was vivid testimony last month by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey about the extent of the White House’s effort to override the Justice Department’s objections to the program in 2004.

The White House recertified the program unilaterally.

Mr Bush ultimately relented and made changes to the classified program that the Justice officials had demanded, and the agency eventually recertified it.

The fight was one of the most bitter disputes of the Bush presidency and questions remain over whether the program tramples people’s civil rights.