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Senators Press, Mukasey Equivocates

Christopher Anders,
Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Democracy and Technology,
American Civil Liberties Union
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February 1, 2008

On Wednesday, Attorney General Mukasey went before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his first oversight hearing since heading up the Department of Justice. In the days leading up to the hearing, the AG finally responded to the Committee’s request for follow-up regarding his views towards the harsh interrogations that nearly derailed his nomination and for which the CIA has become infamous.

In his letter, Mukasey claimed that he does not have to comment on the legality of waterboarding since it is no longer being used – claiming he only needs to speak about ongoing matters. He continued his lack of commitment to the law Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, going as far to say that if he were to be waterboarded, he would feel that is was torture. And yet when asked if waterboarding is torture under U.S. law, he then skirted the issue. It appears his confirmation hearings were good practice for the oversight hearings to come, with Mukasey escaping both without stating his views on the legality of torture.

It seems that Attorney General Mukasey is failing to be the breath of fresh air many had hoped for in the Department of Justice since Alberto Gonzales resigned amid repeated scandals. He has continued in his predecessors’ footsteps of failing to apply their “legal expertise” and actually say what is and what is not the law. The Department of Justice will continue to be in turmoil until we have an attorney general capable of doing so.

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