August 20th, 2007
04:53 PM ET
16 years ago

Leahy: 'Time's up' for White House

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

Filed under: Patrick Leahy
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    "TIME IS UP"

    You don't know how long the majority of Americans have been waiting to hear those words spoken to Bush


    August 20, 2007 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Henry Tucker, GA

    Holy Witch-hunt!! Batman's Butler has returned to Congress and is really REALLY serious this time.

    Don't make him ask again... or else he too might push around an airline employee like the democrat Congressman Filner!

    August 20, 2007 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  3. Anna, Woodbridge, VA

    The time has come and gone for Congress to exercise its power to check the White House and its actions. There should be no negotiations, no talks, no stalling. The documents in question should be handed over to the Senate Judiciary Committee now or the people of this country – for whom this administration works – should know why.
    I'm tired of hearing the administration hide behind Executive Privilege for every question from warrentless wiretapping to the brand of toilet paper in the washrooms. They should be held in contempt of Congress – since they are already held in contempt by 2/3s of the country.

    August 20, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  4. Michael Dean- St. Louis, Mo.

    We are not paying these so – called public servants to play "gotcha" with each other on technicalities . Im not saying that either Democrats or Republicans are innocent of various infractions but c'mon guys, you spend waaaay too much time + taxpayer money on this crap.

    August 20, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  5. David Swenk, Santa Maria, CA

    Interesting, I dont remember seeing the power to issue a "Contempt of Congress" enumerated in the Constitution. When has that become a "lawful order"?

    August 20, 2007 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. Mike Dallas, TX

    I watched Leahy live on C- Span. After issuing so many extensions to comply and getting no results all he does is another empty hand wringing. Pathetic!

    August 20, 2007 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. Chris, Wallingford CT

    First Gonzales and now this?!!? If he keeps this up, he might just become my favorite person in Washington!!

    August 20, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  8. Prabhu, San Diego, CA

    This shows how much the Executive cares for the people of this country who are represented through their representatives in Congress. This contempt for people has doomed Bush's presidency and his party. The earlier Republican congress failed this country in not having any oversight over this rogue President who cares for noboby except his corporate friends. Bush will go down as the worst President ever in the history of this great nation.

    August 21, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  9. Kristy Sanborn Dixon, Mo.

    Told you leahy, executive priviledged.
    See House read you my email.
    I was pleased to see your little fit on CNN today, late in the day, yes, but doesn't change the fact that its executive priviledged.
    How many months have I said to you and your side kick.......
    but, I said when I hit the 'send' button, that you would be in the media when you saw that email......and the very next day.
    have a good one!

    August 21, 2007 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  10. Kristy Sanborn Dixon, Mo.

    leahy, I did send another one also. I do note though, I don't see anywhere in your 'interview' where you offered any condolences for those innocent children that lost their lives in Newark, NJ. Isn't that the least you could do when you and your sidekick were the ones to raise so much hell about the immigration reform bill and not wanting it to pass?

    August 21, 2007 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  11. Penguin

    Go back to Gothan..., Weasel!

    August 21, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Will Ft. Laud, FL

    Holy Witchhunt!! Batman's Butler is back in town and he's really really serious this time. The White House had better do what he says or he'll.... stamp his feet with clenched fists!

    August 21, 2007 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Dave, Richmond, VA

    I thought Cheney said he was not part of the executive branch, therefore making him unable to claim executive privilege. Or does that sort of thing just change with his whim?

    And not even a slap on the wrist from Leahy. The threat of a slap on the wrist. "I warned you once, and now I am going to warn you again. If you do not comply, I will warn you a third time." We elected Democrats to change things. Are they so afraid of the negatives of taking risk against a president with a 29% approval rating?

    August 21, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Granted Congress has done very little in the way of meaningful work. They have spent an insane amount of time and taxpayer dollars pursuing what could easily be described as a witch hunt.

    Having said that, the legality of the warrantless surveilance program is an important endeavor. The program goes to the heart of our slowly erroding civil rights, the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and the 9th Amendment against deny or disparaging the right retained by the people.

    A U.S. District Court has already ruled that the warrantless surveillance program violated the Constitutional rights under the Fourth and First Amendments.

    "The President of the United States, a creature of the same Constitution which gave us these Amendments, has indisputably violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First Amendment Rights of these Plaintiffs as well." – Justice Anna Diggs Taylor

    Batman's Butler is right to pursue the legality of this program. Unfortunately Batman's Butler has false teeth. His bark is all he has. He's too scared or simply unwilling to bite. Threats are not the answer. Grow a spine and actually do something.

    August 21, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Linda

    I'd like to comment here that this war is being fgouht for the standard reason war has always been fgouht. Back in the day, you'd clunk the next guy over the head with your club and steal his food. Or his woman. Later, you'd get your army to shoot the other guy with arrows or stick em with swords, when you'd all waltz in there and take all the food, all the gold, some of the women, and head home.Nowadays, you blow the other guy up using a video screen, then you send in your guys who shoot things up, rape some women, and take all the gold. Then they control the oil by preventing it from leaving.It's pretty much the same old war.Now, back in the day, the guys who made good clubs, the guys who made good swords and arrows, those guys made a good living no matter who was at war. It's the same old thing now, too.But there's a new twist in the modern world. You can have the same guys who own the arrow and sword makers be the same guys who decide to go to war, and they can even be the same guys who sit on the oil and stand to profit from letting the oil move.It still doesn't matter who is at war. The same guys still make the bucks.Same old, same old.There is a faulty premise underlying us letting these guys do the same old same old. The faulty premise is that war is good for the winners. Nah. It's really only good for the arrow makers guild and their buddies.CDFingers

    April 27, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |