From Senior Reporter Pedro Ruz Gutierrez
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said today that the confirmation of Mark Filip for Deputy Attorney General could be in jeopardy if Attorney General Michael Mukasey does not answer senators questions about his views on waterboarding.
Mukasey is scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning for an oversight hearing. Since Mukasey's confirmation in November, several senators have written the attorney general asking that he clarify his views on the controversial interrogation technique. Last week, the 10 Democrats on the committee co-signed a letter to Mukasey again seeking an answer on whether waterboarding is illegal under U.S. law. Leahy said that Mukasey has yet to respond to that letter and that Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) is threatening to try and block Filip's confirmation.
"If he doesn't get a response, he may not be willing to move forward with the deputy [attorney general]," Leahy said. Joe Shoemaker, a spokesman for Durbin, declined to comment on Leahy's remarks, saying: "Stay tuned. Watch the hearing."
DOJ spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment, but did confirm that Mukasey has not responded to the Democrats letter.
At his confirmation hearing in December, Filip, a federal judge from Illinois, declined to answer similar questions about the legality of waterboarding, noting that Mukasey was still reviewing the issue.