Mukasey: CIA Tapes Investigation May Cover Interrogation Techniques

January 30, 2008 10:05 a.m.

In his first round of questioning this morning, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked a question that’s been on everyone’s mind: will the criminal investigation that’s been launched into the destruction of the CIA’s torture tapes also cover the techniques that were documented on those tapes?

Mukasey said, essentially, that it hasn’t been ruled out. John Durham, the prosecutor who’s been tapped to lead the investigation, he said, will proceed as in any other matter, “step by step.” If “it leads to showing motive… then I’m sure it will be explored.” He stressed again that Durham, an experienced prosecutor, was in charge (even if he’s not completely independent) and that he’s joined by an experienced FBI agent.

Update: Here’s the transcript:

LEAHY: I know you’re looking into these tapes — these CIA tapes of waterboarding that were destroyed. Are you looking into the question of the destruction or are you looking into the question of the conduct that was shown on the tapes?

MUKASEY: Actually, I’m not looking into it.

I appointed an experienced prosecutor to act…

LEAHY: But it is the Justice — by “you,” I mean, the Justice Department has opened a formal investigation into whether destroying those tapes was a crime.

Is that — is that — investigated from a U.S. attorney’s office — is he also going to look into the fact that what was on it — what was on it was a crime or not?

MUKASEY: That investigation is going to go step by step, fact by witness — witness by witness, the same way that any other investigation goes. If it leads to showing motive, then it leads to showing motive. And I’m sure that’ll be explored if it has to be.

But the person who controls that is the prosecutor, who is very able and who has able assistants and an experienced FBI agent who is providing the investigative.

LEAHY: We’ll be talking with him.

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