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White House, Cheney's Office, Subpoenaed

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8Q1B9Q00&show_article=1 White House, Cheney s Office, Subpoenaed Jun 27 03:03 PM US/Eastern By LAURIE KELLMAN
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 27, 2007
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      http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8Q1B9Q00&show_article=1

      White House, Cheney's Office, Subpoenaed
      Jun 27 03:03 PM US/Eastern
      By LAURIE KELLMAN
      Associated Press Writer

      WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate Judiciary Committee
      subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick
      Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to
      President Bush's controversial eavesdropping program
      that operated warrant-free for five years.

      Also named in subpoenas signed by committee Chairman
      Patrick Leahy, D- Vt., were the Justice Department and
      the National Security Council. The four parties have
      until July 18 to comply, according to a statement by
      Leahy's office.

      The committee wants documents that might shed light on
      internal disputes within the administration over the
      legality of the program, which Bush put under court
      review earlier this year.

      "Our attempts to obtain information through testimony
      of administration witnesses have been met with a
      consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection," Leahy
      said in his cover letters for the subpoenas. "There is
      no legitimate argument for withholding the requested
      materials from this committee."

      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 said. "It's unfortunate that congressional
      Democrats continue to choose the route of
      confrontation."

      In fact, the Judiciary Committee's three most senior
      Republicans—Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, former
      chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of
      Iowa—sided with Democrats on the 13-3 vote last week
      to give Leahy the power to issue the subpoenas.

      The showdown between the White House and Congress
      could land in federal court.

      Leahy's committee and its counterpart in the House
      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.

      The probe, in its sixth month, began with an
      investigation into whether administration officials
      ordered the firings of eight federal prosecutors, for
      political reasons. The House and Senate Judiciary
      committees previously had subpoenaed Miers, one-time
      legal counsel, and Taylor, a former political
      director, in that probe.

      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 Gonzales' stewardship of Justice and his
      willingness to go along with the wiretapping program.

      The Bush administration secretly launched the spy
      program, run by the National Security Agency, in 2001
      to monitor international phone calls and e-mails to or
      from the United States involving people the government
      suspected of having terrorist links. The program,
      which did not require investigators to seek warrants
      before conducting surveillance, was revealed in
      December 2005.

      After the program was challenged in court, Bush put it
      under the supervision of the Foreign Intelligence
      Surveillance Court, established in 1978. The president
      still claims the power to order warantless spying.

      Debate continues over whether the program violates
      people's civil liberties, and the administration has
      gone to great lengths to keep it running with
      extensive presidential discretion.

      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.

      Comey told the Judiciary Committee that Gonzales,
      then-White House counsel, tried to get Attorney
      General John Ashcroft to reverse course and recertify
      the program. At the time, Ashcroft lay in intensive
      care, recovering form gall bladder surgery.

      Ashcroft refused, as did Comey, to whom Ashcroft had
      temporarily shifted the power of his office during his
      illness.

      The White House recertified the program unilaterally.
      Ashcroft, Comey, FBI Director Robert Mueller and their
      staffs prepared to resign. 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 liberties. The
      administration says the program is crucial to
      preventing more terrorist attacks.

      Fratto defended the surveillance program as "lawful"
      and "limited."

      "It's specifically designed to be effective without
      infringing Americans' civil liberties," Fratto said.
      "The program is classified for a reason—its purpose is
      to track down and stop terrorist planning. We remain
      steadfast in our commitment to keeping Americans safe
      from an enemy determined to use any means
      possible—including the latest in technology—to attack
      us."

      Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the
      subpoena to Gonzales is under review and that the
      department recognizes Congress' oversight role.

      "We must also give appropriate weight to the
      confidentiality of internal executive branch
      deliberations," he said.

      Majority Democrats and some Republicans are skeptical
      and have sought to find out more details about the
      program and how it has been administered.

      Leahy's panel is required to serve the subpoenas to
      specific people within the offices named. One is
      addressed to Gonzales, while the others are addressed
      to: David S. Addington, Cheney's chief of staff; White
      House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, V. Phillip Lago,
      executive secretary of the National Security Council -
      or "other custodian of records" in their offices.

      The subpoenas themselves seek a wide array of
      documents on the program from the Sept. 11, 2001
      attacks to the present. Among them are any documents
      that include analysis or opinions from Justice, the
      National Security Agency—which administers the
      program—the Defense Department, the White House, or
      "any entity within the Executive Branch" on the
      legality of the electronic surveillance program.
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