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Chertoff grilled on interrogation techniques at Homeland Security hearing

[JURIST] Michael Chertoff [JURIST report], President Bush's nominee for Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security [official website] faced repeated questions Wednesday from Democrats at his Senate confirmation hearing about any role he might have played while at the Justice Department in sanctioning improper interrogation techniques used on alleged alleged terrorists. Testifying before the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee [official website], Chertoff said he did not give any specific advice to intelligence officials when asked in 2002 which interrogation techniques might be seen in the future as prosecutable instances of as illegal torture. Chertoff further stated that when he was running the Department's criminal division he did not know or recall which interrogation techniques were used nor have any discussion as to the harsh methods being employed at Guantanamo Bay. Chertoff was also asked for his thoughts on the FBI's controversial detention of more than 700 Muslim foreign nationals on immigration violations after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Many of the foreign nationals were prevented from contacting lawyers for months and none were charged for terrorism-related crimes. Chertoff said he did not know of this problem but found it troubling. Chertoff's approval for the Homeland Security post is all but assured as leaders of both parties expect a swift confirmation. The committee has posted a webcast of Wednesday's hearing [RealPlayer]. The Washington Post has more.

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