Ashcroft Testifies on Surveillance Disputes

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared in a closed-door session before a House committee yesterday to testify about Bush administration disputes over a domestic surveillance program.

The committee is considering a bill that would rewrite the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires a special court to issue warrants for domestic wiretaps.

House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told the Washington Post that there was “robust and enormous debate” about the National Security Agency program.

Ashcroft was asked to appear following testimony that White House officials rushed to his hospital bed in March 2004 in an effort to get approval for the surveillance program devised after the Sept. 11 attacks. Ashcroft refused.

Among those who sought approval was Alberto Gonzales, now the current attorney general, according to this Washington Post account.

The program was later altered to address Justice Department concerns.

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