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...


(Laughter.)

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I would say not yet.

QUESTION: Not directly in your office, near your office, in the vicinity, because we have seen members of the transition team wandering around the building.

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: They have space. My understanding is that a large amount of space was made available for them outside the building for the entire transition team, not just the transition team of the Justice Department, and that was done because movement of one of the units within this department was delayed so that they could have that large space. But I believe they have space in the building as well.

QUESTION: There is still some outstanding issues, Blackwater for example. Do you anticipate any indictment, prosecution, before you are to go on your merry way?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: I can't comment on that.

QUESTION: In that category two months ago you named Nora Dennehy to follow up on the Inspector General's -- Has she now come to you with her status report and does her mandate remain that she can work for as long as possible in looking to the firings?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Not yet, and so far as I know, yes.

QUESTION: Judge, on that line, your predecessor has been disclosed -- has several private attorneys whose fees have been paid for by the Justice Department, and as you know, some of the folks on Capital Hill who do oversight aren't very happy. My question is about that. How do you justify or explain paying those legal fess?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: There are so far as I know regulations to deal with the payment of outside lawyers in situations where people get sued after they have left the government, and so far as I know, those regulations were followed. There is a form contract that was entered into with those lawyers. And that is the explanation.

QUESTION: So that is appropriate?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: The regulations were in place for a reason and they applied to this case.

QUESTION: Back on Guantanamo for a moment. You mentioned that you think Congress ought to pass some legislation to clarify the habeas procedures and be able to safeguard classified information. Is that all you think Congress needs to do to further the closing of Guantanamo, or have you thought about other things that Congress could helpfully do to make this process better?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: Back in July I gave a speech after Boumediene suggesting various steps that Congress could take. Regrettably, I haven't memorized that speech. I still think that I have all of the steps referred to in that speech could well be taken and would be helpful.

QUESTION: But nothing has come up since then that you think would be another thing you would add to the list?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: It was a pretty comprehensive list.

QUESTION: Okay. Have you seen anyone in Congress move in that direction? Are you taking note from what they are doing or will do?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: There was a bill introduced, I believe by Senators McConnell* and Lieberman, after I gave the speech. I don't know whether any action has been taken with respect to it.

QUESTION: General, when the Inspector General's report came out about the firings, you had a pretty forceful written statement that was released that talked about performances in the department in general in relation to that. How do you feel that your predecessor performed during that process?

ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY: That report says what it says and I made the statements that I made. I am not going to sit here, as I have said in other settings, and penalize my predecessor.

QUESTION: I know you don't want to talk about specific cases, but are there decisions perhaps about high-profile cases or policies that you believe should go to the next administration?