TPMMuckraker, in post being widely cited elsewhere, echos Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) in asking Did Gonzales Mislead Congress about NSA Program?
I don’t think this is perjury. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales assured the House Judiciary Committee that the government wasn’t deliberately engaging in warrantless “surveillance” of calls between two Americans.
And, in fact, what we’ve learned today about the NSA is (just barely) consistent with that claim: the surveillance was by telephone companies, and then they voluntarily gave the info — not in real time — to the government. So what we have here is a massive privacy violation by the phone companies (other than Qwest, and good for them), engineered by the NSA. That’s not quite exactly the same thing as ‘surveillance’ in which the government usually does the spying itself, and usually in real time.
It’s a serious matter, of course, if the government tries to blackmail someone into cooperating. USA Today reported that the NSA suggested to Qwest that it might lose government contracts if it didn’t play ball.
That sounds illegal. Of course, it also sounds like the Bush admnistration’s m.o. from the K Street Project right up to the scandal about to take down HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson.