[A-List] Cheney/White House Subpoenaed By Judiciary Committee Amid Threats
the.buffalo.in.the.midst at gmail.com
Wed Jun 27 12:27:31 MDT 2007
A veiled threat, of a constitutional 'cage match' in the flaming ring
of political death:
"It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the
route of confrontation." -- White House spokesman Tony Fratto
White House, Cheney's office, subpoenaed
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer 36 minutes ago
The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice
President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to
President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program.
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.
"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
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, 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.
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
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 administration says the program is crucial to preventing
more terrorist attacks.
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