Paul Kiel at The Muck has some interesting news — James Comey, former number two at the DoJ, will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday. A subpoena for Comey's testimony will be voted on Tuesday — this allows him to testify without having to ask full permission from the DoJ's liason to Congress which, as has been prior practice with the Bush Administration, generally means they say no. Good move on the Judiciary Committee's part, and one that every Congressional committee attempting to get information from willing witnesses who have been stymied by the DoJ would do well to adopt. (H/T to looseheadprop who has discussed this in the comments – it helps to know people who know the rules at the DoJ.) As Kiel reminds readers, there have been reports that Comey's list of USAttys who needed scrutiny for potential termination was very different from the one that Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling and Rove's Shop arranged last fall — the only overlap on the lists being Kevin Ryan.
In advance of that testimony, I want to remind everyone of something Jane highlighted all the way back in 2005 regarding Comey:
With Mr. Ashcroft recuperating from gall bladder surgery in March 2004, his deputy, James B. Comey, who was then acting as attorney general, was unwilling to give his certification to crucial aspects of the classified program, as required under the procedures set up by the White House, said the officials, who asked for anonymity because the program is classified and they are not authorized to discuss it publicly.
That prompted two of President Bush's top aides – Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now the attorney general – to make an emergency visit to George Washington University Hospital to review the program with Mr. Ashcroft during what aides have described as a difficult recovery, the officials said….
Accounts from other officials differed as to exactly what was said at the meeting at the hospital. Some officials indicated that Mr. Ashcroft, like his deputy, was also reluctant to give his signoff to continuing with aspects of the program in light of concerns among some senior government officials about the program's legality and its operational controls.
It was unclear whether the White House ultimately persuaded Mr. Ashcroft to approve the program or whether the White House moved ahead without his concurrence. What is known is that in early 2004, about the time of the hospital meeting, the White House suspended parts of the surveillance program for several months and moved ahead with more stringent requirements on the National Security Agency on how the program was used, in part to guard against possible abuses.
The Justice Department's concerns appear to have led, at least in part, to the suspension, and it was the Justice Department that oversaw an audit conducted on the program.
Comey announced his resignation from the Justice Department in March 2005. And when BushCo. tried to appoint a Skull & Bones crony to oversee Fitzgerald, Comey did an end run around them and appointed the extremely ethical David Margolis to the task as his parting shot out the door.
Looking forward to next Thursday. Should be interesting, to say the least, especially given that Alberto Gonzales was helping to lead the lobbying for the domestic wiretapping without first obtaining a warrant in accordance with the law — and that Comey was one of the stop-gaps to that offensive at the time. Between that and the differing lists, I suspect we'll be hearing some interesting Q&A. Very interesting indeed.