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Leahy: Mukasey Must Not Be A 'mouthpiece Or Validator' For Bush

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) warned Mukasey that he must not follow the pattern of his predecessor, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and he blamed Gonzales' lack of independence from the White House for "Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and Blackwater."

"Regrettably, the former attorney general enabled this administration to continue policies that are in the fundamental conflict with American values, decades of law, sound military practice, international law, and human rights," Leahy said.

"We need someone who understands that the responsibilities and duties of that office are not to act as a mouthpiece or validator for the administration, or as the chief defense lawyers for the White House," Leahy added. "We have now seen what happens when the rule of law plays second fiddle to the president's policy agenda and the partisan desire of political operatives."

Leahy suggested that Mukasay's main task at the Justice Dept. will be restoring cmorale among employees of the agency, which Leahy and other Democrats say plunged to an all-time low under Gonzales.

"This nomination can begin the repair process. I hope all members of the Judiciary Committee, Democrats and Republicans alike, will join to restore the constitutional checks and balances that have been systematically eroded by this administration, and I hope we can begin that process this week," Leahy said.