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Attorney General Is Asked to Testify on Spy Program

January 09, 2006|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday that he had asked Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales to testify publicly on the legality of President Bush's top-secret domestic spying program.

A prominent conservative on the committee said he was troubled by the legal arguments the Bush administration had presented for authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance on people in the U.S. without getting warrants from a special federal court established to approve them.

Bush has pointed to the congressional resolution that authorized the use of military force against Iraq as giving him the power to order the program.

But GOP Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas said, "There was no discussion in anything that I was around that gave the president a broad surveillance authority with that resolution."

The committee chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), said senators would examine that issue and other legal questions in hearings scheduled for early February. Gonzales' testimony was being sought because he was the principal spokesman for the administration's position, Specter said. The attorney general was White House counsel when Bush initiated the program.

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