At a 2008 Senate hearing, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III was effusively praised for standing by the ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft in his hospital bed in 2004 and helping him to resist White House pressure to reauthorize the Bush Administration’s domestic surveillance program.
“It is hard to imagine in America circumstances in which the Director of the FBI has to order agents standing guard over a stricken Attorney General not to leave him alone with the White House counsel and the President’s Chief of Staff to make sure that Deputy Attorney General James Comey stayed with him,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in the newly published hearing volume.
“But it is not hard to understand the feeling of pressure, isolation, and consequence that bore down on all of you through that episode. I will disagree with all of you on many things, but I wanted to take this opportunity today to say thank you. Against intense and hostile pressure from the highest offices in the land, you stood for the principle that all public offices have public duties and responsibilities and that honoring those duties and responsibilities, at least as God gives us each of us the light to see them, is a higher public virtue than mere obedience. That is an important lesson in democracy. I hope it is a lasting one, and I thank you for showing us it,” Sen. Whitehouse said. (page 30)
At the same hearing, Sen. Arlen Specter scolded Director Mueller for failing to inform the Judiciary Committee of the secret Bush Administration warrantless surveillance program in the first place. The Committee had to learn about it from the New York Times, Sen. Specter complained. “Why didn’t you inform me as Chairman and Senator Leahy as Ranking Member about the existence of this program?” (page 14)
See “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” (pdf), Senate Judiciary Committee, September 17, 2008 (published December 2009).
Other noteworthy new hearing volumes include these:
“Exercising Congress’s Constitutional Power to End a War” (pdf), Senate Judiciary Committee, January 30, 2007 (published November 2009).
“The Report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States,” Senate Armed Services Committee, May 7, 2009 (published January 2010).
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