Mukasey's Tortured Response

The more Michael Mukasey refuses to say that waterboarding is torture, the worse his chances of confirmation.

Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey told Senate Democrats yesterday that a kind of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is "repugnant to me," but he said he does not know whether the interrogation tactic violates U.S. laws against torture. [...]

Mukasey said that techniques described as waterboarding by lawmakers "seem over the line or, on a personal basis, repugnant to me, and would probably seem the same to many Americans." But, he continued, "hypotheticals are different from real life, and in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical."

Given that the U.S. has prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime, it hardly seems like a "hypothetical."

Hilzoy adds, "That we are even having a debate about this question, and that it is not a foregone conclusion that someone who claims not to know whether waterboarding is torture cannot possibly be confirmed as Attorney General, is a testament to the moral degradation of our country, and of our political discourse."

At this point, Pat Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has refused to schedule a vote on Mukasey's nomination. Stay tuned.


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