Documents Contradict Gonzales Senate Testimony
Hear Renee Montagne and Ari Shapiro
July 26, 2007, July 26, 2007 ·  Democratic lawmakers on Thursday were calling into question the credibility of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' Senate testimony this week, after documents released last year were shown to contradict his sworn statements.

The documents come to light as senators consider whether a probe should be opened into conflicting accounts about a terror surveillance program. The documents contradict the attorney general's contention that the program was not the issue at a briefing for eight key lawmakers in March 2004.

A Gonzales spokesman maintained Wednesday that the attorney general stands by his testimony.

At a heated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Gonzales repeatedly testified that the issue at hand was not about the terrorist surveillance program, which allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on suspects in the United States without receiving court approval.

Instead, Gonzales said, the emergency meetings on March 10, 2004, focused on an intelligence program that he would not describe.

Gonzales, who was serving as counsel to Bush in 2004, testified that the White House Situation Room briefing sought to inform congressional leaders about the pending expiration of the unidentified program and Justice Department objections to renew it.

Those objections were led by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey, who questioned the program's legality.

"The dissent related to other intelligence activities," Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. "The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program."

"Not the TSP?" responded Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). "Come on. If you say it's about other, that implies not. Now say it or not."

"It was not," Gonzales answered. "It was about other intelligence activities."

A four-page memo from the national intelligence director's office says the White House briefing with the eight lawmakers on March 10, 2004, was about the terror surveillance program, or TSP.

The memo, dated May 17, 2006, and addressed to then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, details "the classification of the dates, locations, and names of members of Congress who attended briefings on the Terrorist Surveillance Program," wrote then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.

It shows that the briefing in March 2004 was attended by the Republican and Democratic House and Senate leaders and leading members of both chambers' intelligence committees, as Gonzales testified.

Schumer called the memo evidence that Gonzales was not truthful in his testimony.

"It seemed clear to just about everyone on the committee that the attorney general was deceiving us when he said the dissent was about other intelligence activities and this memo is even more evidence that helps confirm our suspicions," Schumer said.

Bush acknowledged the existence of the classified surveillance program in December 2005 after it was revealed by The New York Times. In January, it was put under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for judicial review before any wiretaps were to be approved.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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