Nation in brief: AG’s reticence draws rebuke

Senate Democrats assailed Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Wednesday for refusing to offer an opinion on the legality of waterboarding, an interrogation method that many consider a form of illegal torture.

In often sharp exchanges, lawmakers accused Mukasey of trying to protect the Bush administration, with one comparing him to a corporate lawyer trying to cover up the misdeeds of his client. Another accused him of engaging in the sort of political double-talk that he has said he would seek to avoid as attorney general.

In his first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee since being confirmed by the panel last fall, Mukasey agreed that waterboarding, in which water is forced into the nose or mouth to evoke the sensation of drowning, is repugnant to him on a personal level.

But he stuck to a script that he gave lawmakers Tuesday night in a letter in which he said he would not publicly opine on the legality of waterboarding.


Mayor apologizes, doesn’t say why

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick pleaded for forgiveness from his wife and constituents Wednesday in an emotional but carefully worded televised speech, avoiding direct mention of racy text messages that appear to contradict his sworn denials of an affair with a top aide.

“I truly apologize to you,” Kilpatrick said, turning to his wife, Carlita, who sat by his side, holding his hand, at their family church.

“I am the mayor. I made the mistake,” Kilpatrick told Detroit residents, looking into the camera. “I am accountable.”

He did not publicly specify what he was apologizing for, saying legal matters prevented him from doing so.

A prosecutor is investigating whether the mayor and chief of staff Christine Beatty lied under oath during a whistle-blower’s lawsuit last summer in which both denied having a physical relationship. A conviction of lying under oath can bring up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Kilpatrick vowed to remain mayor in the carefully orchestrated speech, which aired live in prime time on local television and radio stations.

The speech ended a week of seclusion for Kilpatrick since the Detroit Free Press reported on the text messages.

Beatty submitted a letter of resignation Monday, effective Feb. 8.


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