. . .as well as then white house
counsel alberto gonzales. . .
from thinkprogress, we learn that
on march 10, 2004, they tried to “persuade“
a bed-ridden, hospitalized john ashcroft to
authorize a warrantless wire-tapping program
then-acting attorney general james comey had
said had “no lawful basis” — comey and ashcroft
threatened to resign. . . meanwhile, for two weeks,
the program operated outside the law. . .
the program had passed its forty-five day
operating deadline, and thus required an
order of re-authorization — an
authorization james comey opined
would be unconstitutional, and
unlawful, given the way the
program was being operated. . .
f.b.i. director mueller
concurred with james comey,
and with john ashcroft, on
this matter. . .
after two weeks of “running
rougue” — outside the law — it
was amended and re-configured,
to bring it into compliance with law. . .
according to talkingpointsmemo, at least
one DoJ attorney may have been
passed over for a promotion
his role in refusing to shove-through this
reauthorization, at the ashcroft-hospital-
bed meeting that day. . . also according
to tpmuckraker’s transcript of today’s
hearing, we learn the president
himself placed the call (to the
best of mr. comey’s recollection),
to then attorney-general-john-
ashcroft’s-wife, at the
hospital, that evening. . .
a s t o n i s h i n g. . .
or perhaps, not so. . .
thinkprogress, to counter WH
spins-person tony snow’s suggestion
that mr. ashcroft was not all that
ill, simply recounts the testimony
of james comey of what happened that
march 2004 evening:
. . .Ashcroft’s chief of staff also
personally requested that Comey “not
resign until Mr. Ashcroft was well
enough to resign with me. He was very
concerned that Mr. Ashcroft was not
well enough to understand fully what
was going on. . .”
the new york times is now reporting
that f.b.i. director mueller told mr.
comey that he also, would resign, as
would ashcroft, if the president, the
white house counsel and others did
not back away from the program. . .
later — tomorrow’s gray lady
implicates both messrs cheney, and bush:
. . .Mr. Comey said he reached Theodore B. Olson, the solicitor general, at a dinner party. At the White House session, which included Mr. Olson, Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Comey and Mr. Card, the four officials discussed the impasse. Mr. Comey knew that other top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, wanted to continue the program.
Mr. Card expressed concern about mass resignations at the Justice Department, Mr. Comey said. He told the Senate panel that he prepared a letter of resignation and that David Ayres, Mr. Ashcroft’s chief of staff, asked him to delay delivering it so that Mr. Ashcroft could join him. Mr. Comey said that Mr. Mueller was also prepared to quit.
The next morning, March 11, Mr. Comey went to the White House for a morning terrorism briefing. Afterward, he said Mr. Bush took him aside for a private 15-minute meeting in the president’s study, which Mr. Comey described as a “full exchange.”
At Mr. Comey’s urging, Mr. Bush also met with Mr. Mueller, who emerged to inform Mr. Comey that the president had authorized the changes in the program sought by the Justice Department. . .