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White House pressed Ashcroft to recertify NSA surveillance program: ex-deputy AG

[JURIST] Former US Deputy Attorney General James Comey [official profile] testified [transcript] before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday that in March 2004, in response to Comey's reservations about reauthorizing the controversial warrantless domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive], then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card [official profiles] attempted to pressure the hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft [official profile; JURIST news archive] to reauthorize the program. Comey, who was acting attorney general during Ashcroft's hospitalization, has not previously discussed the incident in public, which was first reported in early-2006 by the New York Times.

In February of last year, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], under Gonzales, sent a letter to then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) seeking to dissuade the committee [JURIST report] from calling Ashcroft and Comey to testify before the panel, saying that their testimony would provide no new information on the NSA warrantless surveillance program. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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