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Alberto Gonzales

Cheney Involved in DOJ Debate

Posted Jun 7, 2007 11:19 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A revelation that Vice President Dick Cheney urged approval of a warrantless surveillance program in a meeting with Justice Department officials shows he was more involved in the debate than previously known.

The meeting was revealed in disclosures made by former deputy attorney general James Comey in response to written questions by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Washington Post reports.

The Cheney meeting was held a day before then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales visited John Ashcroft in the hospital to urge him to approve the program. Ashcroft responded that he had turned over his duties as attorney general to Comey as he recovered from gallbladder surgery.

"Mr. Comey has confirmed what we suspected for a while--that White House hands guided Justice Department business," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

Comey also said that Cheney had blocked the promotion of a Justice Department official who expressed concerns about the surveillance program. Patrick Philbin did not get a post as principal deputy solicitor general.

Philbin did not comment in an earlier story on his blocked promotion by the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

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