Did Gonzales lie to Congress?

When the attorney general testified that there had been no violations in the FBI's surveillance program, he may have known otherwise.

By Julia Dahl

Published July 10, 2007 4:22PM (EDT)

Another day, another revelation that a member of the Bush administration was less than forthcoming. The Washington Post reports this morning that six days before he told Congress in April 2005 that there had "not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse" in the FBI's surveillance programs, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was sent a copy of a report stating exactly the opposite: that there had been violations. And that report wasn't the first time Gonzales had been alerted to instances of the FBI overstepping its bounds. In the months preceding his testimony Gonzales was sent several reports detailing violations, including an improper search, an investigation that went on past the time allotted by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court and several violations stemming from errors by both FBI administrators and Internet carriers.

Gonzales' testimony before the Senate was part of the administration's push to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, which some lawmakers complained was overly broad and subject to abuse.

In Gonzales' defense, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse explained that when he testified, Gonzales was speaking "in the context" of previous department inspector general reports, which had found no violations.

Even better, Roehrkasse went on to assure the Post that "The statements from the attorney general are consistent with statements from other officials at the FBI and the department."

There is one other possible defense for Gonzales: The Post reports that "Justice officials said they could not immediately determine whether Gonzales read any of the FBI reports in 2005 and 2006 because the officials who processed them were not available yesterday."

Julia Dahl

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