Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today:
“I was profoundly disturbed by statements Judge Michael Mukasey made during his confirmation hearings concerning executive power, and about the legality of the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique. As a result, I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nomination to be Attorney General of the United States.
“I do not believe this is a difficult or complex legal question; waterboarding is illegal under current law. After World War II, the U.S. prosecuted and convicted Japanese soldiers for engaging in this practice. Senators McCain, Graham and Warner – who have served as leaders in the U.S. Senate on this issue, recently issued a detailed legal analysis unambiguously concluding that waterboarding ‘represents a clear violation of U.S. law,’ that Congress has repeatedly outlawed. Further, former and sitting Judge Advocates Generals agree that waterboarding is illegal. On Friday, in a letter to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, several prominent former Judge Advocate Generals declared unequivocally: ‘Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal… Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances.’
“I respect Judge Mukasey and believe he is an intelligent, capable man. If he is confirmed, I believe he will take steps to depoliticize the Department of Justice and to help restore the integrity and credibility that was so lacking under his predecessor, Attorney General Gonzales. However, given our recent history, it is of crucial importance that our next Attorney General be able to stand up to the President and for the rule of law. Because I am not confident that Judge Mukasey will, I will oppose his nomination.”