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You Mean We Can Talk Back?

From the transcript:

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

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."

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

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."

Q. " . . . You said, the fact that the transition people are not yet members of government makes a difference. We've been told that there was extensive security clearances before the election. So, are you saying even people with Top Secret security clearances who are on the transition team may not have access to some things because they are not yet part of the government?"

Mukasey: "That's a possibility. It's an abstract possibility and I don't want to get into --"

Q. "I guess what I'm wondering is, are there documents that the President-elect's people will not see until January 20th?

Mukasey: "There may very well be."

And on the question of prosecution and pardons:

Mukasey: "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."

Torture Watch

Pamela Hess reports for the Associated Press that the retired generals I wrote about in yesterday's column met with Obama's top legal advisers, "pressing their case to overturn some of the Bush administration's terrorism-fighting policies. . . .

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