Attorney General

Gonzales Explains Testimony

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U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has declined to alter his Senate testimony in a letter that defends his statements about the controversy surrounding surveillance programs.

“I am deeply concerned with suggestions that my testimony was misleading and am determined to address any such impression,” Gonzales wrote in the letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In previous testimony, Gonzales had said there was no serious disagreement over a warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency. Some in Congress suggested that Gonzales may have perjured himself.

Gonzales confirms in the letter that there was serious disagreement in the Justice Department about surveillance activities authorized by the president after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Washington Post reports. But the 2004 disagreement did not extend to the warrantless wiretapping program, he said.

Gonzales said his previous statements may have created confusion for those who refer to all surveillance as a single NSA program.

The New York Times suggests the controversy in the Justice Department was over a program to run computer searches of electronic information in an effort to uncover suspicious activities.

“Mr. Gonzales’ letter came one day after a similarly worded letter from Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence,” the Times reports. “Taken together, the letters seem to support an account in The New York Times on Sunday that said Mr. Gonzales had been referring in his testimony to data mining activities by the NSA, rather than eavesdropping.”

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