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Leahy flags questions for Gonzales ahead of Senate panel hearing

[JURIST] US Senate Judiciary Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] on Wednesday took the unusual step of sending Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] a letter listing 12 written questions [PDF text] that Leahy hopes Gonzales will be prepared to address when he appears before the Judiciary Committee on July 24. Leahy said he provided the questions in advance so that the Committee could avoid its experience at Gonzales' April 19 testimony [JURIST report] in which Leahy said the Attorney General was unable or unwilling to answer between 60 to 100 questions regarding the US Attorney firing scandal [JURIST news archive]. One of Leahy's questions asks Gonzales to account for the discrepancy [JURIST report] between his assertion of having not spoken with anyone involved to preserve the integrity of the investigation and former DOJ aide Monica Goodling [JURIST news archive]'s May 23 testimony that Gonzales supposedly "recounted to [Goodling] his recollections of the process leading up to and including" the firings during a meeting in March. Leahy is also seeking an explanation for apparent contradictions between Gonzales' April 19 testimony that former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson [JURIST news archive] was responsible for the firings, and Gonzales' May 15 press statements asserting that they were largely Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty's doing [JURIST report]. McNulty has denied having any key role [JURIST report] in the firings.

The Judiciary Committee is also interested in Gonzales' response to allegations that he had received reports that the FBI had improperly used national security letters (NSL) [CRS backgrounder, PDF; FBI backgrounder] prior to testifying before Congress [JURIST report] in 2005 that "there has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse." AP has more.

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