FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday appeared to contradict the sworn testimony of his boss, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, by telling Congress that a prominent warrantless surveillance program was the subject of a dramatic legal debate within the Bush administration.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday appeared to contradict the sworn testimony of his boss, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, by telling Congress that a prominent warrantless surveillance program was the subject of a dramatic legal debate within the Bush administration. 2

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III yesterday appeared to contradict the sworn testimony of his boss, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, by telling Congress that a prominent warrantless surveillance program was the subject of a dramatic legal debate within the Bush administration.

Mueller’s testimony appears to mark the first public confirmation from a Bush administration official that the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program was at issue in an unusual nighttime visit by Gonzales to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who was under sedation and recovering from surgery.

Mueller’s remarks to the House Judiciary Committee about that contentious meeting seemed to differ from testimony earlier in the week from Gonzales, who told a Senate panel that a legal disagreement aired at the hospital did not concern the NSA program. Details of the program, kept secret for four years, were confirmed by President Bush in December 2005, provoking widespread controversy on Capitol Hill.

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