[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] has sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] seeking to dissuade the committee from calling former Attorney General John Ashcroft [official profile] and Deputy Attorney General James Comey [official profile] to testify before the panel, saying their testimony would provide no new information on the NSA warrantless surveillance program. The DOJ warned that Ashcroft will be unable to provide confidential information regarding the NSA program, and will merely repeat what was already said by Alberto Gonzales in testimony before the committee [JURIST report] earlier this month.
Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] member Charles Schumer (D-NY) [official website] requested that Ashcroft and Comey appear before the committee [JURIST report] earlier this year after a New York Times report indicated that Comey, acting as Attorney General while Ashcroft was hospitalized, expressed reservations about the legality of the project and may have refused to authorize the program's continued existence. In response to Comey's hesitations, Alberto Gonzales, then serving as White House counsel, and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card [official profile] reportedly then went to the hospitalized Ashcroft for approval. It is unclear whether Ashcroft gave his approval for the surveillance program [JURIST news archive], or whether the White House continued without it. AP has more.