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Senators hit Gonzales’ credibility
Democratic and Republican senators yesterday accused Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales of deceiving them about a top-secret domestic surveillance program and other matters, and told him that a trail of obfuscation and misleading answers has destroyed all trust in his leadership.
Mr. Specter said Judiciary Committee members would look at whether the attorney general’s credibility “has been breached to the point of being actionable,” but he did not expand. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, speculated that Mr. Specter was talking about introducing articles of impeachment.
Mr. Gonzales yesterday tried to explain to the committee why he rushed to the hospital bedside of Attorney General John Ashcroft in March 2004 about a top-secret intelligence-gathering matter. Mr. Ashcroft was in intensive care after gallbladder surgery.
Mr. Gonzales said he went to Mr. Ashcroft’s bedside with the backing of a group of congressional leaders known as the “Gang of Eight” — the top leaders in the House and Senate along with the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.
“The purpose of that meeting was for the White House to advise the Congress that Mr. Comey had advised us that he could not approve the continuation of vitally important intelligence activities, despite the repeated approvals during the past two years of the same activities,” said Mr. Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time.
Mr. Rockefeller, who was the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time, said yesterday that he had never heard of Mr. Comey, and that there was no mention of serious disagreement over an intelligence matter at a March 10, 2004, meeting.
“I’m not sure that they knew … that we went,” Mr. Gonzales told the panel. “Put it this way: I did not tell them.”
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
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