Assistant A.G. Refused to Renew NSA Program in 2004
By David Edwards on 1/1/2006, 5:30pm PT  

Guest blogged by David Edwards

The New York Times reports that in 2004 Deputy Attorney General James Comey refused to sign off on renewal of Bush's warrantless NSA spying program. Instead of addressing Comey's concerns, Bush Administration officials took the desperate move of actually visiting Attorney General Ashcroft in the hospital to get his authorization for renewal of the program. Ashcroft was, at the time, in intensive care recovering from pancreatitis.

Comey refused to approve renewal of the program based on concerns over "whether the president had the legal and constitutional authority to conduct such an operation."

In light of these new revelations, Senator Charles Schumer, appearing on Fox News Sunday, demanded that Bush Administration officials testify before congress.

Mitch McConnel, who appeared along with Schumer, chastised The Times for continuing to report on details of the wiretap program. While Schumer said that any investigation should consider a possible whistle-blower status for anyone who leaked this information, Senator McConnel was more interested in punishing the whistleblower.

Because the NSA shared the wiretap information with many federal agencies, it will be very difficult to assign blame to a specific leaker.


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