Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN
WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 - A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program.
The concerns prompted two of President Bush's most senior aides - Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general - to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program's future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the officials said.
This may be a minor aside in the larger story, but it's worth noting that somebody fairly high up in the Bush administration--James Comey, who was acting Attorney General while Ashcroft was hospitalized--said "I'm not so sure about this."
Comey declined to talk to the Times about this story, and Gonzales couldn't be reached.
Hmm. What does NSA do when they can't reach Gonzales to get permission for warrantless spying?
John Bolton's still buried somewhere in this story. Think he'll pop up on the surface anytime soon?