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U.S. House Panel Authorizes Subpoenas For Top Bush Aides

Karl Rove (file photo) (epa) March 21, 2007 -- A U.S. House of Representatives panel today authorized issuing subpoenas for President George W. Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove and other top White House aides.

Recent disclosures about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys has ignited a dispute over whether the prosecutors were pushed out for political reasons and has prompted calls for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign.

The White House has refused to budge in the controversy, standing by Gonzales and insisting that the firings were appropriate.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law today decided to compel the president's top aides to testify publicly and under oath about their roles in the firings.

On March 20, White House counsel Fred Fielding said the administration had no objection to Congress interviewing the witnesses, as long as they were not put under oath and there were no transcript of the sessions.

Representative John Conyers, the chairman of the full House Judiciary Committee, said today that was unacceptable.

"What Fred Fielding said to us yesterday was so disconcerting and so off the mark -- I mean, obviously anyone that comes before the committee would have to be put under oath," Conyers said. "Obviously there would have to be a transcript. We don't do anything without a record."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said that in offering aides to talk to congressional committees privately, Bush had sought to avoid the "media spectacle."

(Reuters, AP, AFP, CNN)