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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nan Aron on Mukasey's Testimony Before Senate Judiciary Committee

Washington, DC – “Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey’s testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee reinforces the important role Congress must play in reining in the excesses of the Bush Administration. I am deeply troubled that the Attorney General continued to evade answering the basic question of whether waterboarding is torture, and his defense of warrantless wiretapping in the name of the war against terror smacks of a complete disregard for the law.”

“Today’s hearing was an opportunity for the Attorney General to provide meaningful answers to questions that remained after his confirmation. He has had months to determine what constitutes torture and whether or not he would authorize such a practice, but today he continued to duck these questions. Even worse, he refused to say that he would support a new statute that would explicitly ban waterboarding. In combination, these refusals are geared to protect government officials from prosecution for engaging in waterboarding and to give the president the ability to veto legislation that would outlaw it.

“Though he was characterized as a zealous prosecutor during his confirmation hearing, Mukasey is now on record as willing to look the other way when it comes to illegal activities carried out in the name of the war against terror. By allowing mega-corporations to violate the privacy rights of ordinary Americans without fear of prosecution or consequence, he wants Congress to give these companies a free pass for cooperating with the government’s illegal wiretapping program.

“Attorney General Mukasey had a choice when he took the helm at the Justice Department. He could chart a new course or continue to tow the line on much of the Bush administration’s corruption of the rule of law. Today’s hearing confirms that he continues to favor an extremely broad view of the president’s power, and we cannot count on him to curb President Bush’s abuses.”

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