Mukasey Stonewalls Congress in CIA Tape Inquiry
Newly installed Attorney General Michael Mukasey made a forceful statement and gave Congress a taste of what it could expect in coming months by swiftly shooting down requests by House and Senate Judiciary Committee leaders, as well as other members of Congress, for information about the Justice Department’s investigation of the CIA tape destruction fiasco — because the department would seem “subject to political influence.” Oh.
The Washington Post:
In letters to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee and others, Mukasey also reiterated his opposition to appointing a special prosecutor to the tapes investigation, saying he was “aware of no facts at present” that would require such a step.
“At my confirmation hearing, I testified that I would act independently, resist political pressure and ensure that politics plays no role in cases brought by the Department of Justice,” Mukasey wrote. “Consistent with that testimony, the facts will be followed wherever they lead in this inquiry, and the relevant law applied.”
One letter was sent to Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Similar correspondence was sent to Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and other House Democrats.
The three letters represent an attempt by Mukasey to push back against growing pressure from lawmakers, primarily Democrats, who have showered the Justice Department with demands for investigations or information on topics ranging from the baseball steroids scandal to allegations of rape by a former military contractor employee.
The letters also are an assertive move by the new attorney general, who was confirmed last month with the lowest level of Senate support in the past half century because of his refusal to say whether a form of simulated drowning known as waterboarding amounts to torture under U.S. law.