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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Senate subpoenas Bush, Cheney records

The Senate subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday, demanding documents and elevating the confrontation with President Bush over the administration's warrant-free eavesdropping on Americans. Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee also is summoning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss the program and an array of other matters that have cost a half-dozen top Justice Department officials their jobs, committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced. Leahy, D-Vt., raised questions about previous testimony by one of Bush's appeals court nominees and said he wouldn't let such matters pass.

The Senate subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office Wednesday, demanding documents and elevating the confrontation with President Bush over the administration’s warrant-free eavesdropping on Americans.

Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee also is summoning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to discuss the program and an array of other matters that have cost a half-dozen top Justice Department officials their jobs, committee chairman Patrick Leahy announced.

Leahy, D-Vt., raised questions about previous testimony by one of Bush’s appeals court nominees and said he wouldn’t let such matters pass.

“If there have been lies told to us, we’ll refer it to the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney for whatever legal action they think is appropriate,” Leahy told reporters. He did just that Wednesday, referring questions about testimony by former White House aide Brett Kavanaugh, who now sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The escalation is part of the Democrats’ effort to hold the administration to account for the way it has conducted the war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The subpoenas extend the probe into the private sector, demanding among other things documents on any agreements that telecommunications companies made to cooperate with the surveillance program.

The White House contends that its search for would-be terrorists is legal, necessary and effective — pointing out frequently that there have been no further attacks on American soil. Administration officials say they have given classified information — such as details about the eavesdropping program, which is now under court supervision — to the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress.

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 with the new ones.

“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.

Also named in subpoenas signed by Leahy were the Justice Department and the National Security Council. The four parties — the White House, Cheney’s office, the Justice Department and the National Security Council — have until July 18 to comply, Leahy said. He added that, like House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., he would consider pursuing contempt citations against those who refuse.

Gonzales, in Spokane, Wash., on Wednesday to discuss gang issues with local officials, said he had not seen the subpoena documents and could not comment on them directly.

“There are competing institutional interests,” Gonzales said.

The Judiciary committees have issued the subpoenas as part of a look at how much influence the White House exerts over the Justice Department and its chief, 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 Judiciary committees subpoenaed Miers, one-time White House legal counsel, and Taylor, a former political director, though they have yet to testify.

Now, with senators of both parties concerned about the constitutionality of the administration’s efforts to root out terrorism suspects in the United States, the committee has shifted to the broader question of Gonzales’ stewardship of Justice.

The issue concerning Kavanaugh, a former White House staff secretary, is whether he misled the Senate panel during his confirmation hearing last year about how much he was involved in crafting the administration’s policy on enemy combatants.

The Bush administration secretly launched the eavesdropping 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 the administration said 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 warrantless spying.

The subpoenas seek a wide array of documents from the Sept. 11 attacks to the present. Among them are any that include analysis or opinions from Justice, NSA, the Defense Department, the White House, or “any entity within the executive branch” on the legality of the electronic surveillance program.

Debate continues over whether the program violates people’s civil liberties. The administration has gone to great lengths to keep it running.

Interest was raised by 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 persuade 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, who temporarily held the power of the attorney general’s office during his boss’ 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 the Justice officials had demanded, and the agency eventually recertified it.

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.”


Associated Press Writer Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane, Wash., contributed to this report.

25 thoughts on “Senate subpoenas Bush, Cheney records”

  1. PS: Those subpoenas? A big fat waste of time. Why? They’ll ignore the subpoenas. The court system will be put into play. The first federal level court will probably agree that the subpoenas are proper and the exec. branch must comply. Then it will undoubtedly go to, guess where, the supremes headed up by, guess who. Any thoughts how that one will wind up?

    No. Forget the the subpoenas. They won’t work. Just impeach them now and get it over with. With any kind of luck, they jump into that dark brown helicopter taking off from the rose garden and both bush and cheney (small caps intended) will be seen smiling and waiving to the crowd while muttering “I am not a crook”. Can’t ‘ya just see it now? Talk about wishful thinking.

  2. It seems we have two choices and two choices only. Either we simply sit back and wait out their term in office and hope they don’t manage to get us into a nuclear shooting war OR they’re impeached. It’s pretty much as simple as that. We stop them or we don’t. Problem is, by NOT stopping them, aren’t we legitimizing their conduct? Because if that’s what we’re doing, well, who’s fault is that?

    They’ve both repeatedly violated their oath of office to protect and defend the constitution. They’ve decimated it. That’s an impeachable offence. So? Stop them! Do it within the law. How novel is that? What a shining example we’d be to the rest of the world. Hey. one can dream, right?

  3. Talk about pissing into the wind! The Senate is controled by the American Communist Party (GOP), and they would support the chimp no matter who they have to kill.

    Go! chimp, go. Americans love you. They must, he is still in office.

    If the chimp were president of any other country the CIA would have executed him by now.

  4. I suspect that Atheists and Agnostics might be anti-war because their feeling might be that this is or may or may not be all there is and why waste it on war and suffering and destruction, why not just live a moral and productive life while hurting no one?

    Fundamentalists of all religious stripes believe in the existence of a God or a Prophet who speaks to and for a God or a Relative of a God, all of which provide a second chance, a life after death of some sort, some more fanciful than others, so it doesn’t matter how much havoc they wreak here, and it doesn’t matter how much of a festering mess they leave this Earth for the rest of us, as long as their actions follow literally those words written thousands of years ago on scrolls by scribes inspired by ‘the word’ of that God, or Relative of that God, or Prophet of that God. Some behaviors demanded by these ‘religious texts’, for example include genital mutilation of newborns of both sexes, marriage between a man and one or more women, tolerance for the institution of slavery, and all kinds of other unimaginably ugly behaviors no one believes moral in today’s world. Is not every ‘word of god’ equal to every other?

    All else is blasphemy punishable by death.

    Don’t shoot the messenger here and get all paranoid that I write of YOUR religion, because many ugly behaviors, not necessarily the same among all, have been prescribed throughout history by more than one of the great religions.

    No one may be elected to high political office anywhere on earth without first swearing allegiance to or submitting to or claiming family connections with some hypothetical supernatural and sentient but ultimately unprovable construct of original creation.


    Oh, yeah, and there is all that oil … and gold … and diamonds … and cheap labor … and cheap stolen natural resources of any kind obtainable by force of arms or threats of force …

  5. Another noisy 4th of July is coming up with all the phony-butt village patriots blowing of their endless supply of firecrackers, whistle rockets and other such nonsense. Most guys I know that have been in combat or close to a combat zone despise fireworks and it’s one of the worst possible holidays for them!

    My Dad now 88 is a survivor of WWII, landing D-Day +3, the Battle of the Bulge among many others, and Korea! When I was a kid I’d ask him what war was like and he’d just get a distant look and say “nothing”…! He was an infantryman in the US Army working and fighting his way up through the ranks from an enlisted man to an officer on the battle field. Being a kid I was always persistent and finally asked him what the most terrifying weapons were and what he thought of the Germans. He simply said the German 88mm tank gun and the mortar were the two most feared weapons of attack and that the Germans were a fierce and “worthy” enemy! He hated fireworks too and didn’t do well during the 4th of July period. We had a flagpole on our property and each day we raised and lowered the flag with honor and respect. This sounds probably over-the-top and extreme to many if not most, but that’s the way it was in our household. We weren’t simply 4th of July flagwavers.

    My point is that millions of men and women have been damaged emotionally, and physically maimed; having sacrificed supremely for this country in WWI, WWII, Korea, Nam, Gulf War I, II and on and on the list goes.

    America now has two certified “traitors” in the Whitehouse with evil designs on turning this once great nation into a NWO/AIPAC/MIC sponsored police state if they can do so while Americans this 4th of July will wave their little flags, hang them off the porch, and make noise for freedom, all the while it’s “loss” thereof is running through their hands, as sand in an hour glass! I’m sorely disappointed in my fellow Americans.

    I entreat all citizen/patriots to do what is necessary and to fire your 88mm thoughtshot across the bow of dreadnaught “Tyranny” and summarily demand the impeachment of George Bush and Richard Cheney this 4th of July 2007 week and do something useful rather than blow off a couple hundred bucks worth of fireworks, wolf down a bunch of burgers and dogs, then simply party-down with your wives, girlfriends, the family or whatever. Stand tall and realize your freedom this 4th of July rests on the shoulders of the dead who have fallen so bravely for “we the people” ‘s freedom , hopefully not to be lost for all time and all places! Will Americans have sold their freedom for a bowl of pottage; i.e., electronic toys, convenience, and self-indulgence?!

    “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both”… Dwight D. Eisenhower

    I’ll post the duty links so people can make contact with their reps. It’s quite easy folks and if we have millions of those that have been silent for all too long do what’s necessary in these gravely dangerous times then we shall prevail!

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. My feeling is that the scared little sheep on Capitol Hill will really be crapping their undies on Judgement Day.

    Remember: “I do solemnly swear… so help me GoD…”

  7. I just hope the armed forces senior officer staff will refuse an order to launch a nookyuhlur weapon.

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