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Specter to vote for Mukasey as US attorney general

[JURIST] US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] said Sunday that he will support the nomination [CNN transcript] of former federal judge Michael Mukasey [WH profile; JURIST news archive] as US attorney general. Mukasey's nomination has come under fire over his refusal [JURIST report] to call waterboarding [JURIST news archive] torture. Specter, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CNN's Late Edition that Mukasey could have provided more assurances on the subject but that:

he is intelligent; he's really learned in the law. He's strong, ethical, honest beyond any question. He's not an intimate of the president.

And you have to balance it off with where we are today. The Department of Justice is dysfunctional. It is not performing. And every day that passes, we do not have someone in charge of the investigation against terrorism, the fight against violent crime.

And it is very important, in the national interest, that we have a strong attorney general.

So I would have liked better assurances. And I think Congress ought to take a firm stand on waterboarding.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote [JURIST report] on Mukasey's nomination next Tuesday. Mukasey must receive ten votes from the Judiciary Committee for his nomination to advance to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation. AP has more.

US Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Friday that they would support Mukasey's nomination [JURIST report]. Several Democratic committee members, including Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have already said they will not vote for Mukasey based on his waterboarding stance. President George W. Bush has defended Mukasey's refusal to condemn waterboarding, and expressed support for his nomination [JURIST reports].

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