Guess Who Shut Down The NSA-DOJ Inquiry?
Last week, we were told the Office of Professional Responsibility inside the Abu Gonzales Justice Department was forced to close an internal investigation into whether or not DOJ officials acted appropriately in authorizing the NSA wire-tapping program, a probe that was promised to Congress back in January. OPR said it closed its probe because they were unable to obtain security clearances presumably from the Director of National Intelligence for DOJ investigators to review NSA material.
We now find out, thanks to Shane Harris and Murray Waas, that in fact it wasn’t John Negroponte who shut down this investigation, because the evidence sought by the investigators was already in DOJ’s possession. It appears that the investigation was shut down by Abu Gonzales himself, who wanted to place the blame on Negroponte rather than shine the light on himself.
An internal Justice Department inquiry into whether department officials -- including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft -- acted properly in approving and overseeing the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program was stymied because investigators were denied security clearances to do their work. The investigators, however, were only seeking information and documents relating to the National Security Agency's surveillance program that were already in the Justice Department's possession, two senior government officials said in interviews.
The only classified information that OPR investigators were seeking about the NSA's eavesdropping program was what had already been given to Ashcroft, Gonzales and other department attorneys in their original approval and advice on the program, the two senior government officials said. And, by nature, OPR's request was limited to documents such as internal Justice Department communications and legal opinions, and didn't extend to secrets that are the sole domain of other agencies, the two officials said.
It is not clear who denied the OPR investigators the necessary security clearances, but Gonzales has reiterated in recent days that sharing too many details about the surveillance program could diminish its usefulness in locating terrorists, and he indicated that giving OPR investigators access to the program could jeopardize it.
Gonzales is stonewalling and covering for Bush in the best tradition of John Mitchell, even though he is the country’s senior law enforcement official. I wonder if Arlen “Single Bullet” Specter still feels all comfy with the assurances he has received from Gonzales and the gut-punch he received from fellow Senate GOP brown shirts to cover up the illegality of the NSA program.