Senators Question Whether Gonzales Lied Under Oath About NSA Wiretapping Program

A group of senators led by Russ Feingold (D-WI) sent Alberto Gonzales a letter today highlighting an apparent lie Gonzales told while testifying under oath last year about the NSA warrantless spying program.

As ThinkProgress noted this morning, Gonzales said in 2006 that there was no “serious disagreement about the program,” a claim that flies in the face of the extraordinary testimony delivered by former Justice official James Comey yesterday. In the letter, the senators ask Gonzales if he stands by his claim:

You testified last year before both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee about this incident. On February 6, 2006, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, you were asked whether Mr. Comey and others at the Justice Department had raised concerns about the NSA wiretapping program. You stated in response that the disagreement that occurred was not related to the wiretapping program confirmed by the President in December 2005, which was the topic of the hearing. …

We ask for your prompt response to the following question: In light of Mr. Comey’s testimony yesterday, do you stand by your 2006 Senate and House testimony, or do you wish to revise it?


As Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Peter Swire wrote this morning, Gonzales’s testimony raises two possibilities:

1) Comey’s objections apply to the NSA warrantless wiretapping program that Gonzales was discussing. If so, then Gonzales quite likely made serious mis-statements under oath. And Gonzales was deeply and personally involved in the meeting at Ashcroft’s hospital bed, so he won’t be able to claim “I forgot.”

2) Perhaps Comey’s objections applied to a different domestic spying program. That has a big advantage for Gonzales — he wasn’t lying under oath. But then we would have senior Justice officials confirming that other “programs” exist for domestic spying, something the Administration has never previously stated.

Read the full letter HERE.