Gonzales: ‘I Cannot Give You Absolute Assurance’ That We Are Not Spying on Innocent Americans

This morning, ThinkProgress listed three questions that Alberto Gonzales needed to answer during today’s hearings. Question No. 3 read, “Can you guarantee this program has never “” either intentionally or unintentionally “” captured communications of political opponents or journalists?”

RawStory reports that Sen. Joseph Biden made a similar request today, asking Gonzales to guarantee the program had not been used to spy on innocent Americans with no connections to terrorism:

BIDEN: Can you assure us, General, you are fully, totally informed and confident that you know the absolute detail with which this program is being conducted? Can you assure us you personally can assure us no one is being eavesdropped upon in the United States other than — other than someone who has a communication that is emanating from foreign soil by a suspected terrorist, al Qaeda, or otherwise?

GONZALES: Sir, I can’t give you absolute assurance.


BIDEN: Who can?

GONZALES: Certainly General Hayden knows more about the operational details of this [program]. What I can give the American people assurance is that we have a number of safeguards in place so that we can say with a high degree of confidence or certainly certainty that what the president has authorized in connection with this program, that those procedures are being followed.

Gonzales tries to kick this question to former NSA Director Michael Hayden. But as ThinkProgress has noted, Hayden has been asked this question on at least three occassions and ducked it every time.