Nov 01 2007

Senators McCain and Graham Offer Support for Attorney General Nominee

WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement about the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey as U.S. Attorney General:

“After carefully reviewing Judge Mukasey’s answers to the questions submitted to him by Senate Judiciary Committee members, we plan to support his nomination.

“We welcome Judge Mukasey’s acknowledgement in a letter yesterday that the interrogation technique known as waterboarding is ‘over the line’ and ‘repugnant,’ and we appreciate his recognition that Congress possesses the authority to ban interrogation techniques.  Mr. Mukasey declined to comment specifically on the legality of waterboarding, deeming it a hypothetical scenario about which it would be imprudent to opine.  Once he is confirmed, however, we strongly urge that he publicly make clear that waterboarding is illegal and can never be employed.

“In fact, Administration officials have stated as much.  Waterboarding is clearly outlawed by several statutes, including both the Detainee Treatment Act and the 2006 Military Commissions Act (MCA).  The MCA, for example, specifically prohibits acts that inflict ‘serious and non-transitory mental harm’ that ‘need not be prolonged.’  Staging a mock execution by inducing the misperception of drowning is a clear violation of this standard.  For this reason, during the negotiations that led to the MCA, we were personally assured by Administration officials that this language, which applies to all agencies of the U.S. Government, prohibits waterboarding. We share Judge Mukasey’s revulsion at the use of waterboarding and we welcome his commitment to further review its legality once confirmed.  We expect that he will reach the same conclusion.

“We are particularly pleased that in his responses yesterday Judge Mukasey exhibited mainstream legal views on constitutional checks and balances.  He stated that the President cannot waive congressionally mandated restrictions on interrogation techniques, including those included in the ‘McCain Amendment’ and the Military Commissions Act.  This is a particularly important conclusion given that, under these laws, anyone who engages in waterboarding, on behalf of any U.S. government agency, puts himself at risk of civil liability and criminal prosecution.  

“The President has selected a consensus nominee for the important post of Attorney General.  Judge Mukasey has a reputation as a rigorous, independent thinker, and we are pleased to offer him our support.  We hope that our colleagues will join us in voting for confirmation.”