December 15th, 2007
07:01 AM ET
15 years ago

Mukasey turns down Hill demands for CIA tapes information

Attorney General Michael Mukasey

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday rejected demands from key congressional leaders for information about the Justice Department's preliminary inquiry into the destruction of CIA tapes of detainee interrogations, saying to do so might be seen as bowing to "political influence."

In letters to the House and Senate Judiciary committees, he said he would not turn over the material they want nor would he appoint a special prosecutor to conduct the investigation, as some lawmakers had requested.

"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. Consistent with that testimony, the facts will be followed wherever they lead in this inquiry and the relevant law applied," Mukasey said.

He sent a third similar letter to Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who had been the first to issue demands for information from the Justice Department.

"With regard to the suggestion that I appoint a special counsel, I am aware of no facts at present to suggest that department attorneys cannot conduct this inquiry in an impartial manner. If I become aware of information that leads me to a different conclusion, I will act on it," Mukasey said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said he was "disappointed" by the decision and indicated a confrontation with the new attorney general will come early next year.

"I will ask Attorney General Mukasey - in public and on the record - more about the department's knowledge of and role in the existence and destruction of these videotapes at the committee's next oversight hearing, which I intend to call early next year," Leahy said in a written statement.

He also indicated that access to the CIA tape inquiry will be an issue when Mukasey's nominated deputy comes before the panel for a confirmation hearing next week.

"The committee will also look forward to hearing from deputy attorney general nominee Mark Filip about this matter at his confirmation hearing on December 19," Leahy said.

Also Friday, CIA Inspector General John Helgerson and assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein sent a similar letter to the top Democrat and Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

The letter, to committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes and ranking Republican member Peter Hoekstra, urged the committee to abandon its investigation of the tape destruction - saying their inquiry would interfere with the inspector general and Justice Department's own inquiry.

"We cannot estimate how long this process will take or where it will lead, but pledge to advise you as soon as we conclude that our efforts are no longer at risk or that these request can be fulfilled without jeopardizing our inquiry," the letter reads.

Filed under: Michael Mukasey
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Will Boston, MA

    Shame on all the Dems who caved–again–to Repubs and confirmed this guy. He's right. He's not doing anything he didn't say he'd do. When will the Dems find their backbone? The voters are watching, waiting....and growing impatient.

    December 15, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Chris

    The CIA is doing a good job folks! Don't let these Dem's fool you. We've been drowning people since Jesus was walking on water and I'm still asking the question: What is more valueable; Water or Oil? If were giving these Terrorists a free drink, isn't it our turn?

    December 15, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. Chris

    Ooops, I meant to say "we're"...Cut me some slack. I been drinking.

    December 15, 2007 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  4. curtis in WI

    It's Alberto Gonzales 2.0.

    Heaven help us all.

    December 15, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  5. Phil Memphis, TN

    Imagine that. The criminal Bush administration has now come out and said to back off asking for details on this. when do we wake up and prosecute these clowns?

    December 15, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  6. T Pipe owosso MI

    Funny that all the top dem leaders were aware of the tapes and them being destroyed befoe it was done, now its time to play politics eh? Why can't they get some work done in Congress instead of all the game playing.

    December 15, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. mark wilkes barre pa

    HE,he,he,he, that ought to piss em off ! told you libs,,, good luck getting your hate filled hands on those tapes. try getting your cadidates elected the old fasioned way,,, earn it own your own merit,,,,, lets see, guess I will be deleted by the monitor again

    December 15, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  8. Christopher

    LOL!!!!!!!! I mean did we really think this guy was gonna do the right thing? GEESH!!! I really would rather us impeach Bush and Cheney (Condie too) even if it meant that Congress had to come to a halt for a whole year..I mean Bush and the Republicans are making sure nothing gets done anyway...Frankly I'd like to see them both in jail..Impeachment is too good for them!

    December 15, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  9. David A. Nagle, Palmyra, NY

    Fascist. Pure and simple. And while "fascisto supremo" nominated him, Dems voted him in. Sad. Poor country.

    December 15, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  10. PW Va isn't that special. I don't think anyone with 1/4 of a brain at ths time thinks Bush(whack) is going to appoint or suggest anyone into his administration who is not going to "toe the line." And if that means, lying, cheating, denying , stealing or any myriad of wicked deeds...well that's the price one must pay for being in cahoots with "the devil."

    I, personally, have decided to buy some major stocks in companies that sell/distribute shredders 'cause I know between now and the time this administration is "kicked to the curb" the purchase of shredders (I mean the heavy-duty type that can run all day and all night) is going to be "kicked up a thousand notches."

    Only in America, people, only in America!!!

    December 15, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. Alan

    The Bush team wants both the Congressional and potential judicial investigations to go away. Sound familiar? The Executive Branch isn't accountable to anyone, at least not under George W. Bush.

    Someone please impeach this guy. Avarice describes the way this administration is run. The Carlyle Group is most grateful for its free pass in the White House Lessons Learned report. Carlyle affiliate LifeCare lost 24 patients post Katrina.

    Bush's Justice Department finds this failure to patients in a time of crisis irrelevant as Carlyle closes in on its purchase of ManorCare, the huge nursing home provider. Something smells and only truth and accountability can remove the stench.

    December 15, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  12. Reggie , Anaheim, Ca.

    Well well well doing the same thing
    over and over again but expecting
    different results is termed:

    Impeachment / Conviction of the anti-christ and his henchmen out of our Government is the only cure.

    The Dem's are pitiful to still just
    stand by and not do their job/oath
    to protect our Constitution!

    December 15, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. erika morgan black dimond wa

    And Mukasey follows the Bush/Chaney coverups proving once again that all democracy has been swept from this part of North America, and no one will do anything about it. If 70% are ignored I think it is time for a general strike, possibly with a march also.

    December 15, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  14. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    The problem most of these posters and Congress, like Leahy, has is that they didn't like Mr. Gonzales standing up to them, and now Mr. Mukasey is also not taking their crap.
    thats the bottom line, because those tapes were made by the CIA and the CIA is one of our largest intelligence agencies, and they are the ones who also try to stop terrorists.
    There are just some things that Congress is not entitled to, when it comes to details of secret intelligence.
    Something some people just don't understand.
    Myself, for the ones saying the tapes were destroyed because they didn't want us to see them on tv, I only have one thing to say.
    I would have liked to seen the tapes myself, I would have liked to see that terrorist experiencing his divine revilation and then deciding to talk.
    But, thats not for our eyes.
    Its only for the ones who are trained in that field.
    They are the ones who protect us Americans also, and whatever they have to do to do that, is fine with me.
    I respect Mr. Mukasey for taking his stand and taking politics out of his duties.
    Thats the only thing wrong, is that leahy doesn't like the fact that they treated Mr. Gonzales like they did, and then they thought they would get another Attorney General in and he would cow tow to them, only it isn't working like he had planned, imo.

    December 16, 2007 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  15. sal lincoln nebraska

    Isnt it strange that the CIA never does anything right and yet there supposed to protect us against terrorists? Whens the last time they've done anything right? Or even come close? If you look at almost anything from the last 50 years provided by a freedom of information act your going to see the only things the CIA has ever accomplished is killing people and their not good at that either

    December 16, 2007 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  16. bprossersme

    Oh My God! A man with guts enough to stand up and tell these stupid, ineffectual Democrats to shut up and get back to work and there will be no more grandstanding today.

    December 16, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  17. Phil Memphis, TN

    Kristy, have you ever heard anything like "government of the people, by the people, for the people". The american people have every right to know how the government we pay for, managed by the people we elect and who's salaries we pay, conduct our business. Because some things do need to be low-key for security purposes, the congress is set up with specific ovcersight rights and responsibilities to ensure the "top secret" label is not misused. geesh, you would be living in a dictatorship otherwise.

    December 16, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Could we have expected anything different from a man who was hand-picked by Bush and who blatantly refused to answer direct questions during his confirmation hearings. We are going to get exactly what the American people expect from the Bush administration – another Gonzalez-style cover up!

    December 16, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Paul C, Palmetto Bay, FL

    The Justice Dept. bowing to "political pressure"? Unthinkable..right Alberto?

    December 16, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  20. Paul NY NY

    Everytime Democrats in congress try to pass legislation that the people want, REPUBLICANS block it. So if you want to blame congress for doing nothing , blame the republicans for stalling everything. Dont get it twisted.

    December 16, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. mark wilkes barre pa

    Paul NY NY,,,,,,,,, How is three poeples call for an ivestigation into CIA tapes trying to pass legislation people want. that is the story we are commenting on here ? This Is a story on political grandstanding and should be slapped down on the spot when ever it happens on either side of the isle

    December 17, 2007 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  22. R M


    December 17, 2007 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  23. JC Topeka, KS

    Mukasey had his chance to show that he was willing to keep political influance out of the DoJ. All he had to do was appoint a speical prosecutor to conduct an investigation free of influnce from the DoJ, White House and Congress. His refusal to do so and to not free the DoJ, a part of the executive branch of government from investigating another part of the executive branch is an error and indicates a return to justise from the White House rather than from a free and independent source.

    December 17, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. Paul NY NY

    mark wilkes barre pa :
    Funny how you missed all the posts blaming Democrats for running a do nothing congress and that was fine , but when I point out it is Republicans stalling all the important legislation you focus on that. Typical Republican spin.

    December 17, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Ca Native

    I guess to be a Hate-Bush liberal, you must have NO concept of the law, evidence, facts, etc???

    Mukasey IS investigating the CIA Tape issue. He is refusing (at this time) to appoint an independent prosecutor as he feels the Attorney General's office can properly investigate this matter.

    If you liberals want to REALLY read about an Attorney General criminally protecting the President .. you will revisit Janet Reno's refusal to appoint an independent prosecutor regarding Campaign Finance Scandals. FBI Director, Louis Freech, delivered a 22-page letter to Reno demanding an independent investigation. Justice Departments Charles Le Bella sent a notice to Reno asking for an investigation. Robert Conrad, Jr (who later headed the task force) called for an independent investigator. Almost 60% of Americans wanted an IC ... but Reno said NO.

    Perhaps if/when Hillary is nominated we can remind everyone of the link between Clintons and Chinese money (Norman Hsu).

    December 17, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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