May 15, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON, DC - Former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey today admitted before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he and former Attorney General John Ashcroft had grave concerns over the National Security Agency’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program. Ashcroft, who refused to approve the program because he believed it to be unconstitutional, resisted coercion from then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card to sign onto it while sick in a hospital bed. Comey considered resigning over the spying program, as did Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and other Justice Department officials.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey’s startling testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee reveals two things: that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales simply cannot be trusted to be truthful about Justice Department oversight of surveillance programs and that the Bush administration is ruthless in its attempts sidestep the Constitution and Congress in order to aggregate more power. Any program that led former Attorney General John Ashcroft to consider resigning over constitutionality deserves the thorough and intensive scrutiny of Congress.”

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