Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Party-Line Vote

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 to approve the nomination of Judge Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General of the United States. All eight Democrats on the panel voted against the nomination due to concerns over the role Judge Gonzales played as Counsel to the President in developing and defending the administration's policy on torture. Several Democratic senators noted that Judge Gonzales had failed to condemn unequivocally forms of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment being practiced by the CIA and the military.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who had not announced a position on the nomination prior to the Committee vote, joined the seven other Democrats on the Committee in voting against the nomination. In a statement explaining her vote, Sen. Feinstein said,

Instead of taking the hearing as an opportunity to start an open and honest dialogue, [Judge Gonzales] tried to stonewall. Instead of condemning brutal interrogation techniques, like forced nudity and simulated drownings, he wrote to me that he “was not in a position to judge” whether they are “appropriate.” I believe confirming this nomination would send the wrong message to the world.

Anyone who watched the nomination hearings got the sense that our law and policy on interrogations is muddled at best. This is why I believe that this Committee should examine laws concerning interrogations, military detainees, and how we conduct ourselves in wartime and will be seeking hearings on the issue.

"I believe confirming this nomination would send the wrong message to the world." Sen. Feinstein is exactly right about that. (She's also right about the need for hearings on the legal underpinnings of the administration's "war on terror.")