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U.S. Attroney General: The Law is What I Say It Is

Old 02-07-08, 02:33 PM
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U.S. Attroney General: The Law is What I Say It Is

U.S. attorney general rejects waterboarding probe
Thu Feb 7, 2008 1:38pm EST

By James Vicini and Randall Mikkelsen

WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Thursday rejected calls by Democratic lawmakers to open a criminal investigation into the CIA's confirmed use of a widely condemned interrogation technique known as waterboarding.

"Whatever was done as part of a CIA program at the time that it was done was the subject of a Department of Justice opinion ... and was found to be permissible under the law as it existed then," Mukasey told the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

He said that since the CIA agents had relied on a Justice Department opinion that the technique was legal, he did not believe they should be subjected to an investigation.

"That's not something that I think would be appropriate, and it's not something I would do," he said.

Mukasey was asked about CIA Director Michael Hayden's disclosure on Tuesday publicly confirming that government interrogators had used waterboarding, often described as simulated drowning, on three suspects captured after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Those subjected to waterboarding were suspected Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and senior al Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Hayden said.

Hayden told Congress on Thursday that waterboarding may no longer be legal for use in the CIA's terrorism interrogation program.

"My own view, the view of my lawyers and the Department of Justice is, it is not certain that that technique would be lawful under the current statute," Hayden told the House Intelligence Committee.

Hayden said new laws, court decisions and presidential orders since the CIA last used the technique five years ago put the legality in doubt. He said he had not sought authority to use the technique.

Hayden said he went public with the acknowledgment because of the political debate over waterboarding, which critics say is a form of illegal torture.

U.S. PUBLIC DISCOURSE

"The question of waterboarding had become so much of the public discourse about the activities of the American intelligence community," Hayden said.

"At the end of that political discussion, whatever guidance we get from the American political process, in law or by other means, guides the performance of this community, guides the performance of the CIA," he added.

Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan and the Judiciary Committee chairman, asked Mukasey whether he was ready to start a criminal investigation into whether the confirmed use of waterboarding by U.S. agents was illegal.

"Just this week, we learned that CIA agents have engaged in waterboarding and that federal prosecutors appear to have known about the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes for more than a year before taking any action," Conyers said.

Mukasey explained why he rejected any investigation.

"Waterboarding, because it was authorized to be part of the program ... cannot possibly be the subject of a criminal -- a Justice Department -- investigation, because that would mean that the same department that authorized the program would now consider prosecuting somebody who followed that advice," Mukasey said.

The CIA said in December that it had destroyed videotapes depicting the interrogations of Zubaydah and Nashiri, prompting a Justice Department investigation.

Mukasey has said the investigation was focused on the tapes' destruction rather than on the interrogation they depict. (Editing by David Alexander, and Philip Barbara)
http://www.reuters.com/article/lates.../idUSN07388736

This is just astonishing. If you or I broke the law and our only defense was "my lawyer said it was OK," the response would be "I guess you should have hired a better lawyer."
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Old 02-07-08, 02:36 PM
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Someone in Washington who thinks they're above the law?
Shocking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!









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Old 02-07-08, 02:51 PM
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This kind of sophistic reasoning by Mukasey is itself torture, donít you think? Our nationís reputation has been so sullied by this bunch. It will take years for us to redeem ourselves, if we ever do.
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Old 02-07-08, 02:57 PM
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Now among many reasons I can think of to not support John McCain is the Attorney General position. Would anyone want Rudy Giuliani saying "the law is what I say it is?"
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Old 02-07-08, 03:07 PM
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Was a determination about whether waterboarding is actually illegal or not ever made? I've heard a lot of people dance around the subject and condemn it but they still haven't passed a specific law about it right? Sure in a perfect world that sort of thing might not be needed but this world (w/ or w/o the current admin) is far from perfect. So far it seems people would rather have this issue around to gain political points than to actually do something about.


"Waterboarding, because it was authorized to be part of the program ... cannot possibly be the subject of a criminal -- a Justice Department -- investigation, because that would mean that the same department that authorized the program would now consider prosecuting somebody who followed that advice," Mukasey said.
The question is if you remove waterboarding from this statement IMHO it seems to be a fairly reasonable statement. Of course if the issue in question is obviously illegal (aka replace it w/ "murder") that would change things, but again the legality of waterboarding is still in question. There's a simple solution to this but again it would seem people would rather have it as a bat to beat on the admin w/...

Last edited by nemein; 02-07-08 at 03:12 PM.
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Old 02-07-08, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
The question is if you remove waterboarding from this statement IMHO it seems to be a fairly reasonable statement.
I don't think it is. If President Bush asked the OLC "Is it OK for me to strangle Nancy Pelosi with my bare hands?" would he be immune from prosecution just because John Yoo said "Sure thing, boss!"
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Old 02-07-08, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
I don't think it is. If President Bush asked the OLC "Is it OK for me to strangle Nancy Pelosi with my bare hands?" would he be immune from prosecution just because John Yoo said "Sure thing, boss!"
See my edit/revised remarks above.
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Old 02-07-08, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
Was a determination about whether waterboarding is actually illegal or not ever made? I've heard a lot of people dance around the subject and condemn it but they still haven't passed a specific law about it right? Sure in a perfect world that sort of thing might not be needed but this world (w/ or w/o the current admin) is far from perfect. So far it seems people would rather have this issue around to gain political points than to actually do something about.
Mmm... I don't think so. If Congress passed a law outlawing waterboarding, that would give the administration perfect leverage to come back and say, "See? It wasn't illegal before."
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Old 02-07-08, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Mmm... I don't think so. If Congress passed a law outlawing waterboarding, that would give the administration perfect leverage to come back and say, "See? It wasn't illegal before."
IMHO it's the only clear solution to this issue though. If congress wants to leave the legality in limbo, then people are going to continue arguing over it and we're not going to get anywhere. If they really want to wrap the issue up, then pass a law.
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Old 02-07-08, 03:41 PM
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Excellent. No need to kowtow to the fools in Congress. Make them pass a law first.
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Old 02-07-08, 06:29 PM
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So the Justice Dept should launch an investigation into something they already investigated at the time and found to be legal? Seems like a waste of time to me.
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