|Originally Aired: July 18, 2006
Senate Questions Attorney General Gonzales on Wiretapping Program
|Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that President Bush refused to grant security access to investigators looking into the National Security Agency's phone-tapping program.|
Addressing the issues at hand
KWAME HOLMAN: Gonzales didn't respond to Specter's scolding
but did address his issues, defending the president's reasons for establishing
military commissions for Guantanamo
detainees, a process recently struck down by the Supreme Court.
ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. Attorney General: For example, no one
can expect members of our military to read Miranda warnings to terrorists
captured on the battlefield, or provide terrorists on the battlefield immediate
access to counsel, or maintain a strict chain of custody for evidence.
The current DOD military commissions take into account these
situational difficulties and thus provide a useful basis for Congress's
consideration of modified procedures.
KWAME HOLMAN: Gonzales then moved to the newspaper accounts
that revealed classified terrorist-related programs.
ALBERTO GONZALES: It is wrong that someone would reveal
intelligence activities that are helping to prevent another terrorist attack on
American lives are potentially endangered by such conduct.
KWAME HOLMAN: However, during a series of rapid-fire
questions, Senator Specter asked Gonzales if he was ready to prosecute the
authors of that New York Times story which disclosed the terrorist surveillance
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Are you considering the prosecution of
the author of that article in the newspaper?
ALBERTO GONZALES: Our long-standing practice -- and it
remains so today -- our policy is that we pursue the leaker. That is our
primary objective, is to go after the leakers, quite frankly. We hope to work
with responsible journalists and persuade them not to publish a story, with
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: But they did publish the story.
ALBERTO GONZALES: They did publish it.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: And you said on May 21st you were
considering a prosecution. Now, we've had June and July. We've had two months
since then. Are you or are you not considering a prosecution?
ALBERTO GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, I will say, we're focused
primarily on the leakers, and we continue to work with the media to try to
persuade them not to publish stories.
I do think, quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, it is appropriate
to have a discussion and a dialogue about, what do we do when we're in a time
of war and we're talking about highly classified programs that may save
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: I'm prepared for a discussion of the
dialogue, but on another day when we have more than 10 minutes. I'm going to
move on and accept your non-answer because I don't think I'm going to get
anything more on that subject, and perhaps nothing more on the next subject.
A war of words
KWAME HOLMAN: The next subject concerned whether the Bush
administration was conducting other secret programs without court approval.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Question: Is it true that it is only the
terrorist surveillance program -- also known as the electronic surveillance
program -- is that the only program that the administration has which is not
functioning under a court order?
ALBERTO GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, you and I did have a
conversation. What I can say is that what you're asking about, the programs and
activities you're asking about, to the extent that they exist would be highly
classified. To the extent they exist would be -- have been and would be fully
briefed to the intelligence committees.
And I can also tell you that we are currently having
discussions within the administration to see what additional information we can
provide to this committee about any additional activities.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: But you can confirm your statement to me
that the only program which is not subject to judicial authorization is the
electronic surveillance program?
ALBERTO GONZALES: Mr. Chairman...
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: You told me that, didn't you?
ALBERTO GONZALES: ... I believe what I said -- well, here's
what I'd like to be on record, that to my knowledge...
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: No, no, no. Answer if you told me that. Then
you can go on the record.
ALBERTO GONZALES: I wouldn't use -- I'm not sure that those
were the words that I used, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Well, the substance of the words you
ALBERTO GONZALES: Those are the substance of the words I
used, but those are not the exact words that I used.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: OK.
In search of a position
KWAME HOLMAN: Patrick Leahy, the committee's top Democrat,
asked Gonzales to take a position on what kind of legal procedures Congress
should design for those Guantanamo
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), Vermont: At our hearing last week,
Mr. Attorney General, one of your assistants testified in effect that we in
Congress should simply ratify the military commission procedures that the
president designed and that the Supreme Court criticized and struck down as
illegal. Is that, in fact, the administration's position?
ALBERTO GONZALES: Senator Leahy, I think our position is --
we care less about where we began. We care more about where we end up. And we'd
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: No, no. The question is very specific: Is
it the administration's position, as one of your assistants suggested, that we
should simply ratify the military commission procedures that the president
designed and the Supreme Court struck down in Hamdan?
ALBERTO GONZALES: That would certainly be one alternative
that Congress could consider, Senator Leahy.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: That was the alternative that the one
person we had from the administration who testified suggested. Is that the
administration's position, yes or no? That's simple.
ALBERTO GONZALES: I don't believe the administration has a
position as to where Congress should begin its deliberations.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Thank you. So we were misled by that
KWAME HOLMAN: Utah
Republican Orrin Hatch stayed on the issue, reminding colleagues that the
Supreme Court didn't necessarily outlaw military commissions.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), Utah:
Unlike some of the hysterical comments about that particular decision, as
though it was a complete slap in the face to the administration, I didn't think
it was. Frankly, all the decision basically -- well, there are a number of
things that the decision said, but basically it said that they expect us to
come up with a set of procedures that will work during this process.
ALBERTO GONZALES: Well, these are very, very tough issues. And
you have to remember that you had six out of eight justices who wrote in that
case, 177 pages of analysis. And so to say that this was something that was so
obviously wrong, I just disagree.
KWAME HOLMAN: Gonzales spent four hours before the Judiciary
Committee. Chairman Specter thanked him for his time. The attorney general
smiled in response, and the hearing ended with a respectful handshake.
||Senate Questions Attorney General Gonzales on Wiretapping Program