The absurdity of the Demcorat Senators and their charges against Gonzales
A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.The suggestion that these guys may have been mislead by a statement discussing a program they were already familiar with is ridiculous. Do these senators just want to look like fools? And, which one of them disclosed the classified information to the NY Times as a source for this story. It is clear that it was not sourced with the administration by the wording of the paragraph suggesting that Attorney General Gonzales' "defenders may maintain that his narrowly crafted answers, while legalistic, were technically correct." There is nothing misleading about his statement since it reflects his state of mind when the discussion with Ashcroft took place. It is what he thought the issue being discussed was about.
It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate. But such databases contain records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans, and their examination by the government would raise privacy issues.
The N.S.A.’s data mining has previously been reported. But the disclosure that concerns about it figured in the March 2004 debate helps to clarify the clash this week between Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senators who accused him of misleading Congress and called for a perjury investigation.
The confrontation in 2004 led to a showdown in the hospital room of then Attorney General John Ashcroft, where Mr. Gonzales, the White House counsel at the time, and Andrew H. Card Jr., then the White House chief of staff, tried to get the ailing Mr. Ashcroft to reauthorize the N.S.A. program.
Mr. Gonzales insisted before the Senate this week that the 2004 dispute did not involve the Terrorist Surveillance Program “confirmed” by President Bush, who has acknowledged eavesdropping without warrants but has never acknowledged the data mining.
If the dispute chiefly involved data mining, rather than eavesdropping, Mr. Gonzales’ defenders may maintain that his narrowly crafted answers, while legalistic, were technically correct.
But members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who have been briefed on the program, called the testimony deceptive.
“I’ve had the opportunity to review the classified matters at issue here, and I believe that his testimony was misleading at best,” said Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, joining three other Democrats in calling Thursday for a perjury investigation of Mr. Gonzales.
“This has gone on long enough,” Mr. Feingold said. “It is time for a special counsel to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought.”
The senators’ comments, along with those of other members of Congress briefed on the program, suggested that they considered the eavesdropping and data mining so closely tied that they were part of a single program. Both activities, which ordinarily require warrants, were started without court approval as the Bush administration intensified counterterrorism efforts soon after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Even if it were not, it is ridiculous for the senators to claim they were being mislead since they knew the context he was placing the conversation in. This is just another example of the bad faith the senate Democrats have been operating in for months on this issue. There entire position on the terrorist surveillance program and the data mining program by a president in a time of war is of questionable constitutionality and all the cases on the subject suggest they are wrong.
Power Line has more on the embarrassing truth that should have the senators blushing in shame.