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Statement by Bill Richardson: "We Witnessed a Devastating Failure of Leadership"

November 09, 2007

Says failure of Senators to vote is a failure to lead; reiterates that torture is unacceptable in any form, promises to prosecute anyone responsible for its use as President

SANTA FE, NM-- New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson today issued the following statement in condemnation of the Senate's confirmation of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General of the United States:

"It is shocking that four U.S. Senators running for the Democratic Presidential nomination failed to show up and vote against Judge Mukasey or speak against him during the debate to persuade their fellow Senators that torture is a no-compromise issue.

"Judge Mukasey disqualified himself by refusing to acknowledge what the world has known for centuries: that waterboarding is torture and torture of any kind violates U.S. and international law. Alarmingly, Judge Mukasey already has shown a startling willingness to allow politics to influence his opinion regarding one of the most basic American principles -- human rights.

"The Attorney General is responsible for steadfastly defending the Constitution and implementing the laws of the land, without exception or equivocation. What should have been an easy question to answer-- waterboarding is torture, and torture is illegal-- was not easy for Judge Mukasey, who chose instead to dodge. His actions speak volumes. His answer was unacceptable, and he is unacceptable as the Attorney General of the United States. The Senate could have rejected this nomination with a filibuster. By showing up and speaking out, Senators Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama might well have stopped his confirmation. Instead, they chose to sit on the sidelines and watch history pass them by.

"Last night, we witnessed a devastating failure of leadership in the fight to take back America, enforce the Constitution, and restore the principles on which this nation was founded.

"This is not what our country needs in its next President.

"Let me be clear: As President, I will ensure that any form of torture, including waterboarding, will never be used. Furthermore, I will direct the Department of Justice to vigorously investigate and prosecute any individual responsible for the use of torture. No one is above the law. No one."

Bill Richardson, Statement by Bill Richardson: "We Witnessed a Devastating Failure of Leadership" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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