Well well well...
A rather lengthy but informative article on what role Prez Bush had in the Ashcroft warrantless search scandal.
In March 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a now-famous late-night visit to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking to get Ashcroft to sign a certification stating that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal. According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit.
Gonzales has also told Justice Department investigators that President Bush played a more central and active role than was previously known in devising a strategy to have Congress enable the continuation of the surveillance program when questions about its legality were raised by the Justice Department, as well as devising other ways to circumvent the Justice Department’s legal concerns about the program, according to people who have read Gonzales’s interviews with investigators. The White House declined to comment for this story. An attorney for Gonzales, George J. Terwilliger III, himself a former deputy attorney general, declined to comment as well.
Even in the face of Ashcroft’s refusal to certify the program as being within the law, President Bush initially reauthorized the surveillance program on his own. In The Angler, Barton Gellman suggests that this move “may have been the nearest thing to a claim of unlimited power ever made by an American president, all the more radical for having been issued in secret. Not only would the will of Congress be flouted, but if the White House had its way, Congress would never know.”
Learning of the reauthorization, Ashcroft, Comey, and more than a dozen officials at the highest levels of government became concerned that if the surveillance program was allowed to continue on as it had been, the government could be engaging in an illegal activity at the direction of the president, and they quietly spoke of resigning en masse.
If all those men had resigned, top aides to each of them would have resigned as well. Ashcroft’s chief of staff and two deputy chiefs of staff said they would go with their boss. Comey’s top aides would have resigned with him. The general counsels of the CIA and FBI said they were going to resign as well.
Adding to this constitutional spectacle would have been the fact that the administration’s warrantless surveillance program was considered one of the most closely held national-security secrets in government at the time. There would have been no immediate explanation of why a portion of the government just up and resigned at once.
Ultimately, confronted with the possible resignations of his own top aides, Bush backed down. The president agreed to address the concerns of the Justice Department and to make significant changes in the program so that it would be conducted within the law. But the president did not do so without first defiantly telling Comey, “I decide what the law is for the executive branch.”
I'm glad this stuff is finally starting to surface. That SOB should be impeached even if he's only got a few months left.