WASHINGTON — Alberto Gonzales, a U.S. attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, misled Congress by downplaying a dispute the White House and the Justice Department over the legality of the National Security Agency’s warrantless spying program, according to previously classified documents.

The documents – released Saturday in a report from the inspectors general of the Defense Department, Justice Department, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence – concerned their investigations of the surveillance programs began by Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The documents show that intelligence and law-enforcement agencies had mixed views toward Bush’s emergency order authorizing the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone and Internet data. For example, agencies other than the NSA had difficulty accessing information on terrorism suspects because of secrecy surrounding the program, lack of training and the large volume and confusing structure of the data.

The report, which was dated July 10, 2009, concerned programs that ran under Bush’s emergency authorizations from 2001 to 2007. Some programs have continued under different laws.

The stepped-up surveillance has been documented by press accounts and the leak of classified materials in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Snowden revelations touched off a debate around the world about the scope of the U.S.’s intelligence gathering and whether the surveillance undermined civil-liberties protections, especially Fourth Amendment defenses against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Notably, the report concluded that the Bush administration misled Congress about a major dispute within the government over the legality of the wiretapping program.

The inspectors general wrote that Gonzales offered inaccurate information when he testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 2006 and July 2007 that the White House and the Justice Department did not disagree on the program, and that different intelligence operations were the cause of the friction.