Data mining was problem for Justice Dept.

July 28, 2007 at 9:59 PM

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) -- National Security Agency data mining was the break point in a U.S. Justice Department dispute on warrantless surveillance, The New York Times reported.

The warrantless wiretapping program included electronic searches through databases containing records of telephone calls and e-mails by U.S. citizens. In 2004, the program had not been disclosed, but many government lawyers were dubious about the constitutionality of the data mining, the newspaper said Saturday.

In 2004, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel, visited then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's hospital room. Gonzales and Andrew Card, then President George W. Bush's chief of staff, tried to convince Ashcroft to sign off on reauthorizing the program -- after acting Attorney General James Comey refused to do so.

Gonzales, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, denied that his visit involved the surveillance program. Democratic leaders say he has been, at best, misleading, and have called for an investigation into whether he committed perjury.

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