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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today released a statement indicating that she will oppose the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to head the Department of Justice as Attorney General.  The full Senate is expected to vote on Mukasey's nomination tomorrow.

"I have met with Judge Michael Mukasey and closely followed his nomination. 

"I had hoped to support his confirmation and to begin the rebuilding process at the Department of Justice.  Judge Mukasey's experience both as a judge and an Assistant U.S. Attorney were hopeful signs of his independence and of a willingness to put the law and the Constitution ahead of politics and even his president.  But his testimony proved otherwise.

"Unfortunately, at a time when Americans need an Attorney General who will restore their faith in the independence of the Department of Justice, I am disappointed to find that Judge Mukasey is not that nominee.

"From his responses, I do not believe that Judge Mukasey will stand up to the President when he has crossed the boundaries of his authority.  Rather, his responses show that he is too willing to bend the law to conform to the President’s actions, and for that reason, I will vote against his confirmation.

"America is a nation of laws.  We believe that no person is above the law, not even the President. 

"This Administration’s determined effort to centralize power within the Executive Branch at the expense of Congress and the courts is deeply troubling.  This Administration has far exceeded the power authorized in the Constitution to convene military tribunals, conduct warrantless wiretapping, and overturn more than one hundred years of our understanding on the meaning of torture. 

"We all recognize the need to keep our nation safe.  The most important job of our government is to ensure the safety of the American people.  We must take the necessary actions to root out and prosecute those who would do us harm.  But rather than work with Congress, the President has gone around the law to unilaterally expand his power.

"Now, more than ever, the Attorney General needs to be the people’s lawyer, not the President’s lawyer.  The Attorney General should be independent enough to stand up for the American people and say “No” to the President.  And I am concerned that Judge Mukasey's testimony shows that he is unwilling to be that voice.

"Judge Mukasey’s refusal to recognize waterboarding as an act of torture and to say outright that it is illegal is of particular concern.  For over one hundred years, the laws and traditions of our nation have condemned the practice of waterboarding.  Up until this Administration, our nation has been certain and consistent on this point.  And as four retired Judge Advocates General recently stated, “Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal.” 

"Judge Mukasey has failed to be clear on this point.  My fear is that his failure to simply answer the question is an indication of a willingness to mold laws to the desire of the President, rather than to ensure the President abides by the law.

"As I stated before voting against Judge Mukasey’s predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General must be honest and independent, and must actively enforce the laws and ensure the public’s confidence in the legal system.  Alberto Gonzales’ disastrous tenure at the Department of Justice confirms what can happen when the Attorney General is not committed to maintaining independence from the White House. 

"America needs an Attorney General whose independence is without question.  I am concerned that Judge Mukasey's allegiance will lay with the President as opposed to the people, and that is why I will oppose his nomination today."