Here is Josh Marshall's commentary:
There are so many parts of this late night hospital blitz story that it's a bit hard to know where to start. One thing that seems very clear -- even clearer than when I discussed it below -- is that the president sent Gonzales and Card over to the hospital to coax an okay out of the presumably heavily sedated Ashcroft. The first day's reportage really skirted around that issue. Maybe day two will be different. Another point though is to remember just who it is we're dealing with here.
This is John Ashcroft, not by many measures a staunch libertarian and a pretty committed Republican to boot. He was refusing to sign off on this. And according to Comey's testimony he was willing to resign over it, apparently along with most of the senior leadership of the Department of Justice. I think we need to know more about just what was being done with this program that would make Ashcroft put so much on the line.
Another point: if we assume that the president sent Gonzales and Card over to the hospital room (and I think that's the only reasonable interpretation of yesterday's testimony), there must have been a meeting before that call was placed, probably at the White House. Who was in the meeting? And who got the president to authorize this? Gonzales? I doubt it. I think we probably needing to be looking toward the Vice President's office playing a driving role in all this.
And read this.
I think it’s safe to assume that whatever they were fighting over, it was a matter of substance. When John Ashcroft is prepared to resign, and risk bringing down a Republican administration in the process, he’s not doing it for kicks. Similarly, when the President sends his aides to coerce a signature out of a desperately ill man, and only backs down when the senior leadership of a cabinet department threatens to depart en masse, he’s not just being stubborn.
It’s time that the Democrats in Congress blew the lid off of the NSA’s surveillance program. Whatever form it took for those years was blatantly illegal; so egregious that by 2004, not even the administration’s most partisan members could stomach it any longer.