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Congressmen call on Mukasey to explain counterterrorism pardons comments

[JURIST] Two US congressman on Thursday sent a letter [text] to US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [official profile; JURIST news archive], calling on him to explain comments he made Wednesday about pardoning US counterterrorism officials for their controversial policies. Mukasey told reporters [NYT report] at a news conference that he did not see a need to issue a blanket pardon because there was no evidence that anyone who developed controversial interrogation, eavesdropping or other controversial policies did so under the belief they were acting illegally. Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) [official website] and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) [official website] wrote:

[W]e are troubled by the breadth of your statement and the blanket conclusion that everyone involved in approving these policies believed they were acting within the law. The public record reflects ample warning to Administration officials that its legal approach was overreaching and invalid, such as repeated objections by military lawyers to Department legal opinions on interrogation issues and the stark warning by then-Deputy Attorney General Comey that the Department would be "ashamed" if the world learned of the legal advice it had given on torture issues. . . . Accordingly, please explain the basis for your blanket conclusion that all Department actors believed their conduct in counterterrorism matters was lawful.
Also Thursday, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] issued a statement [press release] expressing its concern over Mukasey's statements and calling for accountability for abuses committed during the "war on terror."

Mukasey has previously defended government lawyers [JURIST report] who wrote memos on the legality of harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, emphasizing the legal complexity of the issues raised in the memos and criticizing the vilification of the authors [JURIST op-ed]. In January testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mukasey refused to pass judgment on waterboarding, and in February, he refused to launch an investigation [JURIST reports] into its use.

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