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December 15, 2007
Mukasey rejects Congressional Demands on CIA Recordings
Attorney General Michael Mukasey has turned down a request from Congress that he tell them exactly what was on those destroyed CIA recordings depicting "severe interrogation techniques."
“The department has a long-standing policy of declining to provide nonpublic information about pending matters,” Mr. Mukasey wrote, in letters to Senate and House committee leaders, in which he noted that the Justice Department’s National Security Division and the C.I.A.’s inspector general’s office have already opened an inquiry into the episode. It is typical of the Democrats that they complain for years about "politicizing" the Justice Department and then whine when DOJ refuses to play along with their little political dog and pony show.
Taking a position that annoyed a prominent Republican as well as Democrats, the attorney general wrote, “This policy is based in part on our interest in avoiding any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence.” He also rejected suggestions that he appoint a special prosecutor to look into the matter, declaring that he was “aware of no facts at present” that would make such a step necessary.
The recent disclosure that the videotapes showing the questioning of Al Qaeda suspects were destroyed within the C.I.A. is the latest flare-up in the long-running controversy over what methods have been used in interrogations, and in particular whether any should be considered torture.
With two separate investigations underway - one of them a criminal investigation by Justice itself - one begins to wonder just what would satisfy Congressional Democrats (and grandstanding Republicans) and how cooperating with them would illuminate anything that wouldn't come to light anyway. Also, Congress has a nasty habit of immunizing witnesses who can dish up juicy revelations - something that would derail potential prosecutions at Justice as well as make it harder for the CIA IG to do his job.
There's no doubt we need to get to the bottom of this incident. But I would trust the career prosecutors at Justice to do the job of discovering the truth over Congressional investigators any day.