Dispatches from the Creation Wars

And it comes from two very important sources, FBI director Robert Mueller and former Deputy Attorney General James Comey. The AP reports that the visit from Card and Gonzales to get Ashcroft to reauthorize a spy program was indeed about the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or TSP:

In his own sworn testimony Thursday, Mueller contradicted Gonzales, saying under questioning that the terrorist surveillance program (TSP) was the topic of the hospital room dispute between top Bush administration officials.

Mueller was not in the hospital room at the time of the dramatic March 10, 2004, confrontation between Ashcroft and presidential advisers Andy Card and Gonzales, who was then serving as White House counsel. Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee he arrived shortly after they left, and then spoke with the ailing Ashcroft.

“Did you have an understanding that the discussion was on TSP?” asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, in a round of questioning that may have sounded to listeners like bureaucratic alphabet soup.

“I had an understanding the discussion was on a NSA program, yes,” Mueller answered.

Jackson Lee sought to clarify: “We use ‘TSP,’ we use ‘warrantless wiretapping,’ so would I be comfortable in saying that those were the items that were part of the discussion?”

“The discussion was on a national NSA program that has been much discussed, yes,” Mueller responded.

And that’s not all. In a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement asking for a special counsel to be appointed to investigate the issue, four senators outlined other sources who have told Congress that the issue was, in fact, the TSP.

Attorney General Gonzales testified on February 6, 2006 that within the Administration “there has not been any serious disagreement about the [Terrorist Surveillance Program].” Yet, Attorney General Gonzales indicated in his testimony this week that the purpose of the March 10, 2004 briefing for the “gang of eight” was to advise them “that Mr. Comey had informed us that he would not approve the continuation of a very important intelligence activity.” General Hayden stated in unclassified testimony on May 18, 2006, that the very same briefing for the “gang of eight” was on the “warrantless surveillance program.”

Attorney General Gonzales testified that the purpose of the March 10, 2004, 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,” which the Attorney General later testified was “not” the NSA wiretapping program. This is contradicted by an unclassified letter from John Negroponte, then Director of National Intelligence, to then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert on May 17, 2006, describing the same “Gang of Eight” briefing as being “on the Terrorist Surveillance Program.”

This is not merely a technicality. If the program up for question that was discussed that day was the TSP, it shows that Gonzales was lying when he said in earlier testimony that there was no dissent within the administration about the TSP. In fact, we now know from James Comey that not only was there enormous dissent within the administration over the legality of the program, but that virtually the entire senior staff of the DOJ was prepared to resign over it, including John Ashcroft. The lies just keep piling up.