Judiciary Committee Should Not Advance Mukasey's Nomination Until He Denounces Acts of Torture

November 2, 2007
CONTACT: media@dcaclu.org

Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union urges members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose moving forward with the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey for attorney general unless Mukasey states that waterboarding and other extreme interrogations tactics are torture. Throughout the confirmation hearings and in his responses to the questions of Judiciary Committee members, Judge Mukasey remained unwilling to declare waterboarding as torture when authorized by the federal government. He also refused to say that it is illegal for foreign countries to waterboard, beat and shock American citizens. The ACLU sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee leadership asking them to oppose moving forward without such commitments.

“Judge Mukasey has failed to clear the lowest hurdle for a nominee to be attorney general – that of knowing what is and what is not the law, and therefore reaffirming the criminality of torture,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Federal law is clear that waterboarding, as well as all other forms of torture and abuse, are illegal. What is also becoming clear is that unless Judge Mukasey indicates that he will follow the rule of law, his nomination to head the Justice Department will not see the Senate floor.”

The ACLU has demanded a commitment that Judge Mukasey “just say no to waterboarding.” He clearly has not complied, and without that commitment, the Senate Judiciary Committee should not vote to advance the nomination to the Senate floor. The committee needs to fully engage in its role of vetting nominee.

“Our nation’s top law enforcement officer needs to be able to state clearly that waterboarding, electric shocks and beatings are torture and against the law,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Not only does Judge Mukasey refuse to say that the federal government cannot use waterboarding, but he won’t even say that it is illegal for foreign countries to waterboard, shock and beat American citizens. His responses undermine American values and jeopardize the safety of Americans serving overseas. America needs more from a nominee for the top law enforcement job.”

The ACLU letter to Senate Judiciary leadership can be found at:

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