Senate Judiciary Committee Must Obtain Iron-Clad Commitments from Judge Mukasey before Moving Forward

October 17, 2007 12:00 am

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UPDATE – 11/2/2007
In recent sessions, Mukasey has avoided answering both broad questions concerning the use of torture as well as particular ones as to whether specific practices, like waterboarding (simulated drowning) and electric shocks, constitute torture.

Mukasey has also avoided straight answers on electronic eavesdropping. He has indicated that he believes the president has power to engage in domestic wiretapping without a warrant and outside the law, regardless of restrictions that Congress may pass. In the ACLU’s view, it is impossible for senators to fully perform their constitutional duty to “advise and consent” on the Mukasey nomination until he gives real answers.

Contact: 202-675-2312,

Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union calls on the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider the confirmation process of former U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mukasey for Attorney General as an opportunity to address the longstanding and unresolved issues surrounding the Department of Justice. This is also the time for the committee to thoroughly examine Judge Mukasey’s record from his time on the bench.

The ACLU is specifically looking for the Senate to get a four-part commitment from Judge Mukasey pertaining to the current problems of the Justice Department before allowing his nomination to move forward:

Turn over to the Judiciary Committee all documents in DOJ’s possession on the authorization for wiretapping of any phone call in the United States without a warrant.

Disavow the legality of any interrogation tactic not authorized by the Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogations, and commit to providing key documents supporting an illegal interrogation program.

Appoint an outside special counsel for the investigation and, if appropriate, prosecution of any person who violated federal laws against torture and abuse, or who violated federal laws against wiretapping within the United States.

Create a blue-ribbon committee of civil rights advisors to focus on restoring the Civil Rights Division to its historic role as the nation’s premier and nonpartisan civil rights enforcement agency.

The Senate Judiciary Committee needs to also probe Judge Mukasey’s views on the indefinite detention of Americans and on the detention of material witnesses. The ACLU is concerned about Judge Mukasey’s past ruling in Padilla v. Bush, where only “some evidence” was needed to detain an American citizen without charge.

“Now that the Gonzales Department of Justice era has finally ended, the Senate can use this confirmation process to begin to repair the damage to our nation’s largest law enforcement agency,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “The ACLU fully expects this repair to begin before the Senate Judiciary Committee moves forward in the confirmation process of Judge Mukasey. The next attorney general must live up to the requirements of the position – ‘to pursue justice on behalf of Lady Justice,’ not on behalf of President Bush at the expense of the American citizens.”

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