Daily Revolt

October 29, 2007

Mukasey Must Say Waterboarding is Torture

Despite initial rave for Attorney General pick, Michael Mukasey, opposition is growing to his nomination, including from Republicans:
Two Republican senators said yesterday that attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey's refusal to define waterboarding as torture raised doubts about whether he should become the nation's top law enforcement official.

Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) criticized Mukasey for not ruling out use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning, by U.S. operatives during interrogations.

Mukasey told the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing that he was "unfamiliar with what's involved in the technique." He would not say whether he viewed it as unconstitutional.

[...]Graham, a Judiciary Committee member and former Air Force lawyer, echoed McCain's remarks. Mukasey was asked specifically about the legality of waterboarding and he "talked around it," Graham said on CBS's Face the Nation. "If he does not believe that waterboarding is illegal, that really puts doubts in my mind."

He sounds to me like another Alberto Gonzalez. He hasn't been confirmed yet but sounds like a trained poodle:
Also yesterday, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D., Conn.), a presidential candidate, said he would vote against Mukasey's confirmation because of the nominee's testimony that the president is not necessarily bound by federal law. Mukasey had said in response to a question on that matter, "That would have to depend."

Mukasey's answer "disqualifies him from being the chief attorney for the United States," Dodd said in a statement. Dodd said Mukasey, if confirmed, would run the Justice Department as a "political wing of the White House."

Other Senate Democrats said last week that they might not support confirming Mukasey to succeed Alberto R. Gonzales because of his reply about waterboarding.

Slate wonders why the Bushies refuse to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture:
What is it about waterboarding that makes the White House so reluctant to renounce it? It's an old torture technique from the Spanish Inquisition that consists of immobilizing your target on an inclined board, head down, with cloth covering their face. Pouring water over the face simulates drowning. The practice leaves no physical marks. It's illegal under the Geneva Conventions and has long been treated as a war crime by the United States. We even use this technique to train our own troops to withstand illegal torture by our enemies. As retired Rear Adm. John D. Hutson, a former top Navy lawyer and now dean of Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., testified at Mukasey's hearing last week, "Other than perhaps the rack and thumbscrews, waterboarding is the most iconic example of torture in history. It has been repudiated for centuries. It's a little bit disconcerting to hear now that we're not quite sure where waterboarding fits in the scheme of things."

[...]For starters, Bush won't renounce waterboarding because it violates the two choice cocktails of anyone drunk on executive authority: Absolut secrecy and Absolut power.

It was not so long ago that Cheney defended the practice:
Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called waterboarding, which creates a sensation of drowning.

Cheney indicated the Bush administration doesn't regard waterboarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said.

[...]The U.S. Army, senior Republican lawmakers, human-rights experts and many experts on the laws of war, however, consider waterboarding cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment banned by U.S. law and by international treaties that prohibit torture.

Some intelligence professionals say it often provides false or misleading information because many subjects will tell interrogators what they think they want to hear to make the waterboarding stop.

Despite this, the White House went along with legislation recently outlawing the use of waterboarding. So why the double-speak with Mukasey? These people are insane:
Republican Sens. John Warner of Virginia, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have said a law Bush signed last month prohibits waterboarding. The three are the sponsors of the Military Commissions Act, which authorized the administration to continue its interrogations of enemy combatants.

Although, it isn't limited to the Bushies. Tough guy, Rudolph Giuliani doesn't think its a bad thing:
It depends on how it's done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.

Then there is the admissibility of evidence obtained under torture. It is possible that the man who organized 9-11 could walk:
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the FBI now is trying to reconstruct cases against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed - the mastermind of Sept. 11 - and other top terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They're afraid that courts will exclude "evidence" obtained by harsh CIA interrogations, both because the methods could be ruled illegal and because the techniques compelled false confessions.

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