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Prepare to Welcome One of the Guys Behind Bush’s Torture Memos to the Federal Bench

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on another round of potential federal judges this morning, as Republicans continue to move Trump’s nominees forward at a quick pace. Howard Nielson, nominated to be a United State District Court judge in Utah, is expected to draw special attention.

Since Trump nominated him in September, Nielson has come under fire from liberal advocacy groups, Democratic senators, and even retired military officials. In a January judiciary committee hearing, Nielson faced questions about a motion he once argued against a gay judge and his links to the George W. Bush “torture memos.”

Nielson worked for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from 2003 to 2005 under Stephen Bradbury, one of the authors of a series of memos that helped provide legal underpinning for the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation programs. The exact nature of Neilson’s involvement in those memos was unclear at the time of his nomination, but in response to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Nielson acknowledged he had given input on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but explained that final decisions had been left to senior officials.