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HATCH LASHES COMMITTEE

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Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, accused the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday of conducting "search and destroy missions" instead of appropriated confirmation hearings for President Bush's judicial nominees.

Hatch said William Lucas - Bush's nominee to be assistant attorney general for civil rights - is a perfect example. Lucas, who is opposed by some civil rights groups - had to produce 70,000 documents on microfiche and 10,000 to 15,000 on paper to fulfill committee requests.Hatch told Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., "Perhaps facetiously, Mr. Chairman, you requested that all these documents be identified, discovered, copied, assembled and delivered in one week."

Besides facing a delay in his confirmation while he produced so many documents, Lucas also had to produce what Hatch says is irrelevant information about the number of suicides, health sanctions and medical records of treatment at a county jail when he was a sheriff.

"For crying out loud - the incidence of suicides? Records of the investigations? Sanctions? Medical records?" Hatch said, "Mr. Chairman, we engage in a confirmation process in this committee, not a search and destroy mission."

Hatch concluded, "I certainly hope that this global kind of document request, a very obvious dilatory tactic, will not be repeated on the president's future nominations."