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: Ideally the process should work so that -- go up to the Deputy's Office and to the White House in a timely fashion. If it doesn't work that way, it is not ideal.

QUESTION: On the night of your speech, the entire speech contained some language that seemed to be a warning to the next administration about the issue of prosecuting people who were involved in some of the anti-terror policies that came into place after 9/11. Can you tell us anything about whether or not you have consulted on any of these issues, whether or not there should be pardons, and whether or not -- any thoughts you have on this?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I certainly haven't been consulted. I mean I have -- What I have said is that there is absolutely no evidence that anybody who rendered a legal opinion, either with respect to surveillance or with respect to interrogation policies, did so for any reason other than to protect the security in the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful. In those circumstances, there is no occasion to consider prosecution and there is no occasion to consider pardon. If the word goes out to the contrary, then people are going to get the message, which is that if you come up with an answer that is not considered desirable in the future you might face prosecution, and that creates an incentive not to give an honest answer but to give an answer that may be acceptable in the future. It also creates some incentive in people not to ask in the first place.

QUESTION: But is water boarding torture, do you think?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I have been asked that twice.

QUESTION: Really?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Yes. Once during my confirmation hearings when I was not read in on the CIA program as it then existed, and so -- although I had heard of the process, did not know how and what safeguards and so on, so I couldn't comment. Thereafter, I learned, as I testified, and as I believe General Hayden confirmed it, it was no longer part of the program. Not only that, there have been since a number of other statutes including the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act that overlay the standards of the anti-torture statute. So the short answer is there is no occasion for me to comment on that. It is not part of any program that is currently in existence.

QUESTION: I'm sorry to step on your line. I don't think, though, that the Detainee Treatment Act nor the Military Commission Act apply to the CIA specifically.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: But their standards apply, of course.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, we couldn't hear you.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I'm sorry. I thought their standards applied across the board.

QUESTION: What are you going to do in February?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Something different from what I'm doing now.

QUESTION: Are you going to go back to your firm?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I have no idea. I really don't. And I'm not -- It has gone through my head, but I haven't --

QUESTION: Attorney General, can I get back to the transition, the practicalities of this transition? You said you haven't spoken with the man who is to be your successor, but who have you spoke with? For example, David Ogden is supposed to be the point person here. Have you met with him, have you met with any others from the transition team? Have you provided space for them in your office? What is the level of cooperation and communication at this point?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I think the level of cooperation and communication is very high. I have met with David Ogden and one or two others. The people principally in charge of the transition are my chief of staff and Lee Lofthus , who is the Assistant Attorney General for Administration. Brian Benczkowski , by the way, is, as you know, my chief of staff. And they have been dealing on a day-to-day basis with Mr. Ogden and the remainder of the transition staff and trying to provide them with as much information as they can. As far as office space, as far as I know, they have got all they need. We have provided -- I mean, you want to know whether they have got space in my office? The answer is no.