The White House said today (Feb. 1) that when Homeland Security
Secretary-designate Michael Chertoff served as head of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Justice Department he explained the anti-torture statutes to representatives of the Central Intelligence Agency and cautioned them to observe the law.
"The Office of Legal Counsel in the intelligence community simply asked him his opinion, as a prosecutor, of how he would approach the statute relating to these issues, the anti-torture statute," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said at a briefing. "And so that's what they were asking him. And he made it very clear that those who are conducting interrogations need to know very clearly where the line is, and they need to not get close to that line, because as a prosecutor -- if you get close to that line, that could lead to action by the prosecutor."
McClellan noted that Chertoff will testify tomorrow before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "Judge Chertoff is someone who enjoys wide respect for his work, both as head of the Criminal Justice Division and his work in other positions within government, such as being a U.S. attorney," McClellan said. "And this is respect that he enjoys from both sides of the aisle. We expect that Congress will move forward quickly and vote on his nomination as they begin the hearings tomorrow. We hope that Congress will do so, certainly."
If confirmed, Chertoff will be the second member of the Jewish community to have a Cabinet position in President George W. Bush's administration. Josh Bolten became
Office of Management and Budget director in 2003