Gonzo: Must Have Been A Different Illegal Surveillance Program

Yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about his sworn testimony that "the Terrorist Surveillance Program had aroused no controversy inside the Bush administration, despite congressional testimony Tuesday [by James Comey]that senior departmental officials nearly resigned in 2004 to protest such a program."

Gonzo's response? "The Justice Department said yesterday that it will not retract . . ." Must have been talking about some different illegal surveillance program. But these questions still stand; does Gonzales still stand by these statements?

I take my responsibilities very seriously in respecting the role of the Department of Justice, given to the department by Congress, to decide for the executive branch what the law requires . . .

I understand and it's my judgment that I don't get to decide for the executive branch what the law is. Ultimately, that is the president, of course. But by statute, the Department of Justice is given the authority to provide advice to the executive branch.

And so, while I certainly participate in discussions about these matters, at the end of the day, that opinion represents the position of the department and therefore the position of the executive branch.

James Comey testified that Gonzales did not accept the Justice Department as the "decide[er] for the executive branch what the law requires." Surely then either Gonzales' above testimony requires clarification at the least or Gonzales needs to refute Comey's testimony.

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