In following previous postings on domestic surveillance, a glimpse into the contentious situation between Congress and the White House, exemplified by the following exchange from the White House Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, January 3, 2006:
Q A number of members of Congress do not agree that the President has the authority to do what he did in that case.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, previous administrations have cited similar authority.
Q And they want to have hearings, and those hearings are supported by many on both sides, including the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, because they don’t believe that this is within the scope of the President’s authority.
MR. McCLELLAN: And what’s your question?
Q And my question is, does the White House take this into account, will it try to talk to them, will it participate in the hearings?
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, and the President has said we’ve briefed members of Congress on more than a dozen occasions.
Q But that’s not what they’re talking about.
MR. McCLELLAN: And in terms of discussions about this, the President talked about this at his end-of-the-year news conference. We shouldn’t be talking about intelligence activities, particularly in a time of war, in a public way. This is a highly classified authorization –
Q Not anymore. I mean, it’s public now.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, it still is. It still is highly classified. The President has talked in a very limited way about the nature of this authorization and what it’s designed to do, and how it’s limited. And so we will continue to talk with members of Congress –
Q Will you cooperate with a congressional hearing?
MR. McCLELLAN: — the Attorney General has been talking to additional members of Congress about this authorization, so that they do understand why this tool is so vital in our efforts to prevail in the global war on terrorism.
Q But will you cooperate with a hearing?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I’m not going to get into talking about ruling things in or out from this podium. We’ll talk with members of Congress and make sure that they’re briefed and kept informed, as we have been.