Judiciary Chairs Write Gonzales on “Massive Electronic Databases”

Posted on by Jesse Lee

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, along with Subcommittee Chairmen Jerrold Nadler and Robert “Bobby” C. Scott, sent the attached letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, following weekend reports that disputes over the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program involved “massive electronic databases.”

Full text of the letter:

July 30, 2007


The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzales
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We read with interest the disclosures in yesterday's New York Times and Washington Post that a 2004 dispute over the NSA's secret surveillance program which led to threatened resignations by Department officials involved a “massive electronic database” program.

We have two potential concerns with the disclosure. First, at a time when the Administration is seeking to make changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it is imperative that all members of the House Judiciary Committee be fully apprised of these controversial, and possibly unlawful, programs, and any related programs. It is difficult to craft appropriate legislative responses unless we have all of the relevant facts concerning these programs.

We have previously requested background information on the so-called “warrantless wiretapping,” “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” or their predecessors, as set forth in letters to you dated January 19, February 1, and May 17, 2007, and have also sought from you the same information being sought by the Senate Judiciary Committee related to these programs and we would reiterate those requests here. We now request copies of all opinions, memoranda, and background materials, as well as any dissenting views, materials, and opinions regarding the same, concerning the data base program disclosed by the media yesterday.

Second, we are concerned that this disclosure, stemming from “current and former officials briefed on the program,” may simply be an effort to respond via Administration leak of potentially classified information designed to rehabilitate previous controversial testimony by you. In this regard, we would inquire whether you or anyone in your front office has any knowledge or involvement in these leaks, and if so, who and the nature thereof.

We look forward to a response at your earliest possible convenience. Please provide us with the requisite information by delivering a copy to us at the Judiciary Committee office, 2138 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (tel: 202-225-3951; fax: 202-225-7680). Please contact the Judiciary Committee office if you have any questions.


John Conyers, Jr.

Jerrold Nadler
Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Robert C. Scott
Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security

cc: Honorable Lamar S. Smith

Honorable Trent Franks

Honorable J. Randy Forbes

Honorable Brian A. Benczkowski

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