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In his three-page letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Mukasey explained he finished a review of Justice Department memos about the CIA's current methods of interrogating terror suspects.
"I understand that you and some other members of the committee may feel that I should go further in my review, and answer questions concerning the legality of waterboarding under current law,'' Mukasey wrote.
The attorney general added, "If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on this subject. But, with respect, I believe it is not an easy question."
"There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit the use of waterboarding. Other circumstances would present a far closer question.''
He declined to comment what the 'other circumstances' are.