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Hullabaloo


Friday, December 14, 2007

 
Shocked, simply shocked

by digby

Who could have ever predicted this?

Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to give Congress details of the government's investigation into interrogations of terror suspects that were videotaped and destroyed by the CIA. He said doing so could raise questions about whether the inquiry is vulnerable to political pressure.

In letters to leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees that oversee the Justice Department, Mukasey said there is no need right now to appoint a special prosecutor to lead the investigation. The preliminary inquiry currently is being handled by the Justice Department and the CIA's inspector general.

"I am aware of no facts at present to suggest that department attorneys cannot conduct this inquiry in an impartial manner," Mukasey wrote Friday to Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat and Republican, respectively, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "If I become aware of information that leads me to a different conclusion, I will act on it."

Addressing congressional demands for facts in the CIA tapes inquiry, Mukasey noted that the Justice Department generally does not give out information about pending cases.

"This policy is based in part on our interest in avoiding any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence," Mukasey wrote. "Accordingly, I will not at this time provide further information in response to your letter, but appreciate the committee's interests in this matter."

An almost-identical letter was sent Thursday to Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike angrily denounced Mukasey's refusal, which they said blocks congressional oversight of the Justice Department.

Additionally, lawmakers from both parties accused the Justice Department of obstructing a House Intelligence Committee inquiry by advising the CIA against cooperating with it.

"Earlier today, our staff was notified that the Department of Justice has advised CIA not cooperate with our investigation," House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, and the panel's top Republican, Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, said in a joint statement Friday.

"We are stunned that the Justice Department would move to block our investigation," Reyes and Hoekstra said. "Parallel investigations occur all of the time, and there is no basis upon which the Attorney General can stand in the way of our work. ... It's clear that there's more to this story than we have been told, and it is unfortunate that we are being prevented from learning the facts. The executive branch can't be trusted to oversee itself."

Leahy said he was disappointed that Mukasey denied the details to his committee -- even in a classified setting.

"Oversight fosters accountability," Leahy said. "This committee needs to fully understand whether the government used cruel interrogation techniques and torture, contrary to our basic values."

[...]


During his confirmation hearings in October, Mukasey promised senators he would review Justice Department memos after becoming attorney general to determine whether waterboarding amounts to torture -- which would deem it illegal. Earlier this week, however, Mukasey said he has not yet finished that review, and rebuffed calls from Congress to make a speedy decision.


"This policy is based in part on our interest in avoiding any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence"

This guy's a laugh riot.

But hey, everybody loves watching the congress get punk'd by Dick Cheney. They should turn it into a sit-com. They could call it "Waddaya Gonna Do About It?"


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