Transcript of Reporters Roundtable Discussion With Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey

WASHINGTON , Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a reporters roundtable discussion with Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey : 10:35 A.M. EST ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Good morning...


ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Which means that we continue to work well with the NYPD through the Joint Terrorism Task Force as we do with other police departments. New York City provides valuable information to us and we do to them.

QUESTION: Have you met with Eric Holder yet?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Not yet.

QUESTION: Would you like to?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I'm certainly -- I certainly think it's going to happen.

QUESTION: But it hasn't been set up?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: It hasn't been set up yet.

QUESTION: Do you know him at all?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I don't know him. I know people who know him. I know he's served in this building, which since I haven't served in this building (inaudible) to the extent that (inaudible) there may be some things to unlearn. He's had a lot of experience. He's a good lawyer.

QUESTION: But in your meeting with him, generally speaking, what are you going to try to impress upon him? What are some of the areas that you feel necessary to communicate?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I think what I'm going to tell him in my meeting with him is best told in my meeting with him and not anticipated --

QUESTION: We won't tell him.

(Laughter.)

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: -- just tell everybody else.

QUESTION: Before he received the nomination, he had been an outspoken advocate for more federal involvement with state and local law enforcement, sort of re-funding grants like the COPS program and so on, just saying that this whole attitude towards national security didn't have to be terrorism versus local law enforcement, but could be seen sort of one animal.

What's your take on that?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: First of all, whatever polices the new administration pursues are for the new administration to decide. But I think you will find, as I have, that it is one animal. We do work very strongly with the state and locals on a whole array of topics, including terrorism. We've cracked a number of terrorism cases with the assistance of state and locals that have begun with a state cop pulling over a car, and lo and behold, a terrorism case. And I think you'll find that that is already in place. What tweaks they choose to make in programs are really their decision.

QUESTION: You said the building had changed since Eric Holder worked here. Can you tell us a little bit --

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Well, the National Security Division, for example, did not exist at the time that he was here, and various responsibilities have been transferred to it that existed elsewhere. And so I think that's a substantial change.

QUESTION: If the transition team -- in here now it will have access to the memos by the Office of Legal Counsel?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Without getting into particular things that they've requested, they are getting as much as they can, as quickly as they can and one of the things that we need to do when, and particularly as to OLC, which you referred to, they don't simply get issued just for the heck of it. They get issued generally at the request of another agency and so, there's bound to be another agency that has its own equity or interest in the information. And so what we try to do is determine whether, and to what extent, we can clear that information and try to do it as quickly as we can so as to get it to the transition team so that they're aware of all the things that they need when they take over on the 21st.

QUESTION: So, for instance, if something were classified or a DOD or a CIA matter, it might involve additional layers of negotiation.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: That's another, that raises another issue, which is that people on the transition team are not yet themselves members of government and classification is a whole separate layer.

QUESTION: Quick question on the surveillance. Do you think the state of our surveillance techniques would have picked up something like the Indian attack in advance? Are you satisfied that they would've? If that attack was going to happen in the United States ?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I can't conjecture in that way, I really can't.