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Top Democrat on House intelligence panel says White House blocked surveillance briefing

[JURIST] US Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) [official website], the ranking Democrat on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence [official website], said Tuesday that a top intelligence official had been prepared to brief the committee in December on the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive], but had been stopped by a top Bush administration aide. Harman said that General Michael V. Hayden, Principal Deputy Director for National Intelligence, had agreed to brief the full committee on the NSA spying program, but that briefing request was denied by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card [official profile].

Harmon says that she and the other members of the committee sought the briefing shortly after the president confirmed the existence of the program [JURIST report] in December 2005. A spokeswoman for General Hayden declined to comment and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said she was not aware of any possible briefing related to the domestic spying program. In a letter [text; JURIST report] to the president last month, Harman argued that limited briefings on the program violated the National Security Act [text]. Though the White House has insisted that the limited briefings were appropriate, Hayden and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales earlier this month agreed to hold closed door briefings [JURIST report] for the full House and Senate intelligence committees. Reuters has more.

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