UPDATED AND BUMPED: The White House has asserted executive privilage in refusing to comply with the Senate subpoenas.
"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation,'' White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion.''
Thursday was the deadline for surrendering the documents. The White House also made clear that Miers and Taylor would not testify next month, as directed by the subpoenas, which were issued June 13. The stalemate could end up with House and Senate contempt citations and a battle in federal court over separation of powers.
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White House and Justice Face New Subpoenas
Published: Jun 27, 07 09:16 PM
The US Senate has issued a subpoena ordering the White House to give up documents related to its surveillance of domestic terror suspects.
The Senate Judiciary Committee asked the Bush administration to give up the papers as part of its inquiry into the controversial spying programme.
The administration has refused a series of requests to release the documents.
The president rejects claims that he broke the law by ordering surveillance without first securing warrants.
The programme, authorised after the 9/11 attacks, enabled the government to monitor the overseas e-mail and telephone communications of Americans suspected of ties to terrorists.
While the president says his wartime powers allowed him to authorise surveillance without the need for a warrant, critics say he violated Americans' civil liberties.
The secret spying programme became public in 2005.
The White House's past refusal to provide information to the American people on this issue has only served to widen the credibility gap of the White House.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's subpoenas target the White House, Vice-President Dick Cheney, the National Security Council and the Department of Justice.
Their intention is to shed light on any discussion that may have taken place within the administration on the legality of the spying programme.
"Our attempts to obtain information through testimony of administration witnesses have been met with a consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection," the Senate Committee's chairman, Patrick Leahy, says.
"There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee."
The White House has until 18 July to comply with the demand, according to the Democratic-led Senate committee.
It is unclear whether it will do so, or mount a legal challenge to the subpoena.
"We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," a White House spokesman told the Associated Press news agency.
"It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation."
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