National Security

May 15, 2007 3:00 AM

Domestic spying program was `without legal basis,' ex-official says

The Bush administration ran its warrantless eavesdropping program without the Justice Departments approval for up to three weeks in 2004, nearly triggering a mass resignation of the nations top law enforcement officials, the former No. 2 official disclosed Tuesday. In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey said that those he believed were prepared to quit included then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Comey said then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card visited Ashcroft as he lay gravely ill in a hospital bed on March 10, 2004, and pressed him to re-certify the programs legality. Ashcroft refused.

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