In his testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to address inaccuracies in his 2006 testimony in relation to the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. “There has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed,” Gonzales said at the time.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) recalled that former Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified to a much different version of events. Comey said he had refused to sign on to an extension of the program “amid concerns about its legality and oversight.”
Today, Gonzales said Comey was referring to “other intelligence activities,” appearing to confirm that the Bush administration is operating more than one warrantless domestic spying program. In a heated back and forth with Specter, Gonzales stated:
The disagreement that occurred was about other intelligence activities and the reason for the visit to the hospital was about other intelligence activities. It was not about the terrorist surveillance program that the president announced to the American people.
Today’s testimony contradicts what Gonzales had said previously. In June, Gonzales claimed that both he and Comey were referring to the same domestic spying program. “Mr. Comey’s testimony related to a highly classified program which the president confirmed to the American people sometime ago,” he said.
If Gonzales’ testimony is accurate today, then he is confirming the existence of a new administration spying program.
SPECTER: Let me move quickly through a series of questions there’s a lot to cover. Starting with the issue Mr. Comey raises, you said “there has not been any disagreement about the program.” Mr. Comey’s testimony was that “Mrs. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there to seek approval” and he then says “I was very upset, I was angry, I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.”
GONZALES: The disagreement that occurred was about other intelligence activities and the reason for the visit to the hospital was about other intelligence activities. It was not about the terrorist surveillance program that the president announced to the american people.
SPECTER: Mr. Attorney General, do you expect us to believe that?