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Sensenbrenner says Gonzales 'stonewalling' on NSA wiretap program

[JURIST] US House Judiciary Committee [official website] chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) [official website] accused US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] of "stonewalling" his committee on the topic of the NSA warrantless surveillance program [JURIST news archive] during an oversight hearing [meeting materials] Thursday on US Justice Department operations. Sensenbrenner argued that because the committee is responsible for overseeing the Department of Justice, Gonzales cannot refuse to answer questions about how the Bush administration regulated the NSA program by saying the program is classified.

Gonzales insisted throughout the hearing that the program was legal - even saying at one point he would not rule out the possibility that the president had authority to order warrantless wiretaps of communications between Americans in the US - but indicated at several junctures he could not discuss classified matters. Read Gonzales' opening statement [PDF text], Sensenbrenner's opening statement [PDF text], and watch recorded video of the full six-hour hearing. AP has more.

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