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FBI director contradicts Gonzales testimony on domestic spying program

[JURIST] FBI Director Robert Mueller on Thursday contradicted testimony given by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales earlier this week concerning a 2004 discussion of intelligence activities. Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee [hearing materials] Thursday that there was dissent within the administration concerning the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] expressed during the meeting, but Gonzales said Tuesday that then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey did not express concerns about recertifying the program. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee [transcript] Tuesday, Gonzales insisted that Comey's reservations concerned another undisclosed intelligence program and not the domestic surveillance program as widely reported. Gonzales has also maintained that the March 10, 2004 meeting between administration and eight Congressional leaders did not focus on the reauthorization of the domestic spying program. Gonzales' testimony, however, also appears to contradict [JURIST report] a 2006 memorandum from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which outlines briefings given on the domestic surveillance program and includes the March 2004 meeting.

The same day that Mueller offered his contradictory testimony, Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter [PDF text] to Solicitor General Paul Clement asking Clement to appoint a special counsel [press release; JURIST report] to investigate whether Gonzales "may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress." White House Press Secretary Tony Snow defended Gonzales [JURIST report] Thursday, saying that Gonzales was speaking "consistently" [briefing transcript] and continues to have the support of President Bush. Snow declined to elaborate when pressed for details of how the contradicting accounts can be reconciled. The New York Times has more.

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