No spy probe? It was the Decider's decision

Justice Department lawyers were denied security clearances needed to study the department's role in approving Bush's warrantless spying program.

Published July 18, 2006 4:35PM (EDT)

When the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility revealed earlier this year that it couldn't investigate the Justice Department's role in approving George W. Bush's warrantless spying program because its lawyers had been denied the necessary security clearances, Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey said he wanted to know who made the decision to deny the clearances so that he could "reach out to those responsible for stifling the investigation" and "identify a way for a probe to resume."

It looks like he just got his answer.

At a hearing this morning, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Arlen Specter asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales why OPR's lawyers were denied access to the warrantless spying program when "many other lawyers in the Department of Justice had clearance."

Gonzales' response: "The president of the United States makes the decision about who's ultimately given access."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Arlen Specter D-pa. Espionage