"Under sharp questioning from Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter, Gonzales said that Bush would not grant the access needed to allow the probe to move forward.
“It was highly classified, very important and many other lawyers had access. Why not OPR?” asked Specter, R-Pa.
“The president of the United States makes the decision,” Gonzales told the committee hearing, during which he was strongly criticized on a range of national security issues by Specter and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the panel’s senior Democrat.
Last week, under a deal with Specter, Bush agreed conditionally to a court review of his antiterror eavesdropping operations.
When the program was disclosed in December, it outraged Democrats and civil libertarians who said Bush overstepped his authority.
Bush’s 2001 directive authorized the National Security Agency to monitor — without court warrants — the international communications of people on U.S. soil when terrorism is suspected. The administration initially resisted efforts to write a new law, contending that no legal changes were needed. But after months of pressure, officials have grown more open to legislation.
Under the deal with Specter, the president agreed to support a bill that could submit the program to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a constitutional review.
Last week, Gonzales said the bill gives Bush the option of submitting the NSA program to the intelligence court, rather than requiring the review."
UPDATE: Via Washington Times" Mr. Specter said 40 House members asked for the probe, which was halted when repeated requests for clearance were denied. He said department criminal and civil division lawyers were given clearances for potential prosecutions or the defense of civil cases.
"With so many other lawyers in the Department of Justice being granted clearance, it raises the obvious question of whether there was some interest on the part of the administration in not having that opinion given," he said.
"Why wasn't OPR given clearance, as so many other lawyers in the Department of Justice were given clearance?"
Mr. Gonzales said he was confident the program's constitutionality would be upheld by a pending review by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court -- part of a deal negotiated last week clearing the way for a review in exchange for a bill to update electronic surveillance laws. "
Again, simply a matter of a much of loose lipped "lawyers close to the investigation" who can't be trusted.
Moonbats are going nuts (well, they can't go where they already are - but I digress), but the fact is that Gonzales is correct: The President does "make that decision", and it was a good decision to make. Just because "outraged democrats and civil libertarians" scream for disclosure doesn't mean they are entitled to it, nor do the "lawyers" involved in the 'probe'. Fact is as we have found out in such stories as Fitzgerald GJ and other stories, that DOJ lawyers "who are close to the investigation" have a problem with keeping their mouth shut. That's what the DOJ determined and therefore didn't issue them clearances they needed.
In any case the program is legal - it has never been determined otherwise despite Spector's dreaming - and as such, the President has a right to protect it as the valuable tool in the War on Terror that it is.
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