Attorney General

Mukasey Urges Passage of Wiretap Law

Updated: In a speech yesterday to an ABA group, Attorney General Michael Mukasey pressed his case for a law that would extend authority for the government’s terrorism wiretap program.

Mukasey wants Congress to pass a version of the law that gives immunity to telecommunications companies that have cooperated with the government in the wiretap effort, a view he expressed in an editorial last week.

Mukasey continued to beat the drum for immunity in his speech to the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, the New York Times reports.

“We simply cannot afford to discourage the private sector from helping us to detect and prevent the next terrorist attack,” he said. “Such companies deserve our gratitude, not litigation.”

Mukasey stressed that the law to broaden wiretap powers of the National Security Agency was an important part of the battle against terrorism.

“We have seen what happens when terrorists go undetected,” he said. “We have to do everything possible within the law to prevent terrorists from translating their warped beliefs into action. To stop them, we have to know their intentions, and one of the best ways to do that is by intercepting their communications.”

The Times viewed the speech as evidence that Mukasey “intends to be a forceful advocate for some of President Bush’s most controversial antiterrorism policies, even if that means angering congressional leaders who hoped that he would instead focus on repairing the strained relationship between the Justice Department and Capitol Hill.”

However, the story did not mention the Justice Department’s recent statement saying it will not block a congressional probe into the destruction of interrogation videotapes.

Updated at 10:37 a.m. CST to add a link to the transcript of Mukasey’s speech.

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