|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The director, Robert S. Mueller III, told the House Judiciary Committee that the confrontation was about the National Security Agency’s counterterrorist eavesdropping program, describing it as “an N.S.A. program that has been much discussed.” His testimony was a serious blow to Mr. Gonzales, who insisted at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that there were no disagreements inside the Bush administration about the program at the time of those discussions or at any other time.
The director’s remarks were especially significant because Mr. Mueller is the Justice Department’s chief law enforcement official. He also played a crucial role in the 2004 dispute over the program, intervening with President Bush to help deal with the threat of mass resignations that grew out of a day of emergency meetings at the White House and at the hospital bedside of John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general.
In a separate development, Senate Democrats, who were unaware of Mr. Mueller’s comments, demanded the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Mr. Gonzales committed perjury in his testimony on Tuesday about the intelligence dispute. The Senate Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, issued a subpoena to Karl Rove, the White House senior political adviser, and another presidential aide, J. Scott Jennings, for testimony about the dismissal of federal prosecutors, another issue that has dogged Mr. Gonzales.
White House officials said the Democrats had engaged in political gamesmanship.
“What we are witnessing is an out-of-control Congress which spends time calling for special prosecutors, starting investigations, issuing subpoenas and generally just trying to settle scores,” said Scott M. Stanzel, a White House spokesman. “All the while they fail to pass appropriations bills and important issues like immigration reform, energy and other problems go unanswered.”
The conflict underscored how Mr. Gonzales’s troubles have expanded beyond accusations of improper political influence in the dismissal of United States attorneys to the handling of the eavesdropping program, in which Mr. Gonzales was significantly involved in his previous post as White House counsel.
“I had an understanding that the discussion was on a N.S.A. program,” Mr. Mueller said in answer to a question from Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
Asked whether he was referring to the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or T.S.P., he replied, “The discussion was on a national N.S.A. program that has been much discussed, yes.”
Labels: Alberto Gonzales