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Vice President Dick Cheney lied about his involvement in developing President George W. Bush's controversial and illegal program to use the National Security Agency to spy on Americans.
New revelations show Cheney was hip deep in developing the policy, often overruling the objections of Justice Department officials and blocking the promotion of one official who disagreed with him on the warrantless wiretapping program.
The same disclosures also show Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied about his role in trying to get approval of the program from previous Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Writes Dan Eggen of The Washington Post:
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, a former senior Justice official told senators yesterday.
The meeting came one day before White House officials tried to get approval for the same program from then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who lay recovering from surgery in a hospital, according to former deputy attorney general James B. Comey.
Comey's disclosures, made in response to written questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicate 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. The program allowed the National Security Agency to monitor phone calls and e-mails between the United States and overseas.
Comey said that Cheney's office later blocked the promotion of a senior Justice Department lawyer, Patrick Philbin, because of his role in raising concerns about the surveillance.
The disclosures also provide further details about the role played by then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales. He visited Ashcroft in his hospital room and wrote an internal memorandum on the surveillance program shortly afterward, according to Comey's responses. Gonzales is now the attorney general. He faces possible congressional votes of no-confidence because of his handling of the firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year.