Thursday, June 7, 2007

cheney personally blocked promotion of DoJ attorney philbin. . .

. . .patrick philbin was one of the
high-ranking department of justice attorneys
who opposed warrantless wiretaps on domestic
united states calls, between u.s. citizens -- a
seemingly direct violation of f.i.s.a., and more
importantly, the fourth amendment, during march of 2004. . .

[james comey's sworn statement(PDF)]

[f.i.s.a. is the foreign intelligence surveillance
act -- codified as 50 USC §§ 1801 to 1871.]

this is from yahoo news
[click wordmark for full story]:

. . .In a written account, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey said Cheney warned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that he would oppose the promotion of a department official who once threatened to resign over the program.

Gonzales eventually decided against trying to promote Patrick Philbin to principal deputy solicitor general, Comey said.

"I understood that someone at the White House communicated to Attorney General Gonzales that the vice president would oppose the appointment if the attorney general pursued the matter," Comey wrote. "The attorney general chose not to pursue it. . ."

Philbin was one of two Justice Department officials who led a review of the classified program and provided some of the research that led Comey to refuse to endorse it, Comey said.

"Mr. Comey has confirmed what we suspected for a while that White House hands guided Justice Department business," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is leading the Senate's investigation. "The vice president's fingerprints are all over the effort to strong-arm Justice on the NSA program."

. . .Vice President Cheney told Justice Department officials that he "disagreed with their objections to a secret surveillance program during a high-level White House meeting in March 2004," former Justice official James Comey revealed yesterday, indicating that "Cheney and his aides were more closely involved than previously known in a fierce internal battle over the legality of the warrantless surveillance program."

. . .Cheney spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, declined to respond, citing the administration's policy of not commenting on personnel matters.

According to Comey, he and Ashcroft had refused to recertify the legality of Bush's warrantless wiretapping program for reasons that are classified. When Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, the powers of his office transferred to Comey, Ashcroft's deputy.

During a meeting at the White House on March 9, 2004, Comey told Cheney he would not certify the program, he said in his written remarks Wednesday.

The next night, then-White House Counsel Gonzales and Bush's chief of staff, Andy Card, went to Ashcroft's bedside in intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital. Tipped to the impending visit, Comey and his aides were present when Gonzales urged Ashcroft to recertify the program. Ashcroft, who just had gall bladder surgery, refused, Comey testified last month.

The White House recertified the program without the department's endorsement. That led Comey, Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Philbin and other department officials to prepare their resignations. Faced with a mass walkout at the top of his Justice Department, Bush relented and changes in the eavesdropping program that Comey and Mueller said were necessary to win their approval [were ultimately made]. . .

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