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Mukasey criticizes Bybee torture memo during AG confirmation hearing

[JURIST] US Attorney General nominee Michael B. Mukasey [White House fact sheet; firm profile] told the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Wednesday that he opposes presidential authorization of torture, calling the controversial "Bybee Memo" [PDF text; PBS backgrounder] "unnecessary" and "a mistake." The 2002 memo, in which the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel defined torture as physical pain equivalent in "intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death," was never repudiated by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive]. Mukasey addressed other topics of concern [JURIST report] during the confirmation hearing questioning, stating that he will recuse himself from matters related to close friend and presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani [official profile], and that he is willing to resign if his legal and ethical objections to administration policy are ignored. AP has more.

During his opening statement [text; JURIST report] of the hearing on his nomination [witness list], Mukasey said that he will hold Constitutional limits in high regard and will work to balance national security and civil liberties. On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] said that the Senate will likely approve Mukasey without undue delay [JURIST report].

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