Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The White House asked for more time to produce documents regarding the legality of the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program Monday, but the chairman of the Senate committee that demanded them said "Time is up."
Sen. Patrick Leahy said the Senate Judiciary Committee has given White House officials more than a month to turn over the documents and granted previous extensions of a subpoena it issued in June. That delay "goes way beyond what anyone expected," he said.
"Time is up," Leahy, D-Vermont, told reporters. "We've waited long enough."
Leahy said that unless the administration complies with the subpoena, "The full Judiciary
Committee will have to sit down and determine whether to seek contempt from the full Senate." He added, "Right now there's no question they're in contempt of a valid order of the Congress."
In late June, Leahy's committee voted 13-3 to subpoena legal opinions from the White House, National Security Council and Justice Department regarding the legality of the controversial surveillance program, which the Bush administration says is critical to preventing terrorist attacks on the United States.
Leahy already had agreed to extend the deadline for those documents until Monday. But last week, White House counsel Fred Fielding proposed additional talks after the Labor Day holiday on what the White House would be willing to turn over.
"Your subpoenas call for the production of extraordinarily sensitive national security information implicating core executive branch prerogatives," Fielding wrote. "Accordingly, much of this information, if not all, is potentially subject to a claim of executive privilege."
Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney's office told Leahy on Monday that the subpoena the committee sent was "procedurally irregular" and said it would reserve the right to claim executive privilege as well.
– CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Yellin