Leahy sets final deadline for White House on wiretapping docs
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has given the White House another 12 days to hand over documents it requested nearly six weeks ago regarding the administration's legal justifications for its warrantless wiretapping program.
"Despite my patience and flexibility, you have rejected every proposal," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote in a letter to White House counsel Fried Fielding. The administration has "produced none of the responsive documents, provided no basis for any claim of privilege and no accompanying log of withheld documents."
The requested documents relate to President Bush's authorization of a foreign surveillance program he approved in the wake of Sept. 11. Just before adjourning last week for a month-long recess, Congress approved a temporary expansion of the government's ability to spy on conversations between people in the US and surveillance targets abroad. The legislation, which expires after six months, allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on such phone calls and e-mails without first getting a warrant.
In June, the Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Justice Department, National Security Council, the White House and the Office of the Vice President seeking information on the program. Existence of the program was first revealed by the New York Times in December 2005.
Leahy first gave the White House until July 18 to produce the documents, and then he agreed to give the administration until Aug. 1 to comply. The letter to Fielding sent Wednesday sets Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. as the "new return date" for the subpoenas.