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Obama opposes AG nominee

*** UPDATE *** Edwards and Clinton also release statements opposing Mukasey. Read more to read their statements as well.

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Yesterday, Dodd held a conference call with reporters to declare his opposition to Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey. He said he was opposed to Mukasaey, not because of his stance on torture, but above all because of his stance on the power of the executive branch.

Today, Obama's Senate office released a statement with Obama's opposition to Mukasey. Obama's opposition, he writes is rooted in both Mukasey's ambiguous stance on torture and the issue of presidential power.

Here's Obama's statement:

"After the dismal performance of the last attorney general, I had hoped that Judge Michael Mukasey would represent a badly-needed change in direction for the Justice Department and the nation. But his testimony before the Senate was stunning. While his legal credentials are strong, his views on two critical and related matters are, in my view, disqualifying.

"We don't need another attorney general who believes that the President enjoys an unwritten right to secretly ignore any law or abridge our constitutional freedoms simply by invoking national security. And we don't need another attorney general who looks the other way on issues as profound as torture. Judge Mukasey's professed ignorance of the debate over the propriety of practices like "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, as a means of interrogation, was appalling.

"We are a nation of laws, and those laws apply equally to the President of the United States and common citizens. We need an attorney general who understands and appreciates that inviolable principle."

*** UPDATE 1 *** Edwards also is opposed to Mukasey. He highlights Mukasey's stance on torture as well as Congress' role in checking executive power.

Here's his statement:
"George Bush's political appointees at the Justice Department have twisted the law to justify waterboarding and other interrogation techniques that have long been considered torture. Now the man who is supposed to clean up the Justice Department -- Judge Michael Mukasey -- says he does not know whether waterboarding is torture or not. What more information does he need? Waterboarding was used in the Spanish inquisition and considered a war crime in World War II.

"Mukasey has also said that the president doesn't necessarily have to abide by acts of Congress. We need an Attorney General who will put the rule of law above the administration's short-term political interests, and Mukasey has already shown that he's unwilling to do that.

"The credibility of Justice Department has been badly tarnished, and it is now clear that Mukasey is not the man to restore it. The Senate should reject his nomination."

*** UPDATE 2 *** Clinton's Senate office released that Clinton also opposes Mukasey. In the release, she too cites his views on executive power and torture.

Here's the release:


October 30, 2007 

We need an Attorney General who has the strength to challenge this Administration when it is wrong, who is committed to reestablishing the independence of the Department of Justice and to restoring respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. I am deeply troubled by Judge Mukasey's continued unwillingness to clearly state his views on torture and unchecked Executive power.

The Attorney General is the chief defender of the rule of law in our country. After Alberto Gonzales's troubled tenure, we cannot send a signal that the next Attorney General in any way condones torture or believes that the President is unconstrained by law. When we leave any doubt about our nation's policy on torture, we send a terrible message to the rest of the world. Judge Mukasey has been given ample opportunity – both at his confirmation hearings and in his subsequent submission to the Judiciary Committee – to clarify his answers and categorically oppose the unacceptable interrogation techniques employed by this Administration. His failure to do so leaves me no choice but to oppose his nomination.

We need to restore the nation's confidence in the Department of Justice. The Department must once again defend our Constitution and the rule of law without regard to ideology and partisanship. And we need to protect the country from terrorism while also respecting Americans' civil liberties.