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Ex-DOJ lawyer doubts legal basis of domestic surveillance program at Senate hearing

[JURIST] Jack Landman Goldsmith [faculty profile], former head of the US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel [official website] and now a Harvard Law School professor, testified [hearing notice] before the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Tuesday that he "could not find the legal support for" portions of the Bush Administration's controversial domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive] during his tenure with DOJ. Goldsmith nonetheless said he was not at liberty to disclose the legal rationale used to justify implementation and operation of the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program [DOJ fact sheet] run by the National Security Agency [official website] and declined to describe the constitutional principles he believes the program violates.

Goldsmith served as an assistant US attorney general between 2003 and 2004. Goldsmith also confirmed Tuesday that he was present when former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confronted [JURIST news archive] former US Attorney General John Ashcroft [official profile; JURIST news archive] in his hospital room in March 2004 to obtain reauthorization of the warrantless wiretapping program and said Ashcroft denied Gonzales' request, saying that the program was illegal. AP has more.

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