AG nominee breezes through his hearing
Breaks with Bush on prison torture
WASHINGTON - With just three words yesterday, attorney general nominee Eric Holder capped years of angry debate about US counterterrorism policy and declared a major break from the Bush administration.
"Waterboarding is torture," said Holder, President-elect Barack Obama's pick to run the Justice Department.
The 57-year-old former US prosecutor also pledged to shut down the US naval prison in Cuba in part by sending detainees to trial in the United States and to restore the Justice Department's reputation of independence from political interference.
Holder appeared headed for confirmation.
No Republican has announced plans to oppose him.
In other confirmation hearings yesterday for Obama's top appointees:
Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado said he would help wean the United States off foreign oil if he is confirmed to lead the Interior Department, saying he would seek to expand renewable energy on public lands and promote the wise use of traditional energy sources.
Pressed by senators on how he would address recent ethical lapses at the department - including accusations of bid rigging and partying with oil company employees - Salazar said that he wanted "to clean up the mess," and that the overhaul could include reforms on how royalties are collected from oil and gas companies.
Susan Rice, Obama's choice for US envoy to the United Nations, told lawmakers that she will work to strengthen what she called an indispensable if imperfect institution.
Janet Napolitano, nominated to oversee homeland security, said the agency needs to focus on transportation security and securing private biological and chemical facilities.
Twice elected governor of Arizona, she said that aviation security has improved since the 2001 terror attacks, but that more needs to be done to secure transit systems and other modes of ground transportation. e security of driver's licenses.
Mary Schapiro, Obama's choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, promised to revitalize the embattled agency's enforcement efforts and bring other changes to bolster investor protection.