Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mukasey and Waterboarding

It's almost as if Alberto Gonzales had never left.

Michael Mukasey, President Bush's nominee to head the Department of Justice in the aftermath of the Gonzales disaster, has told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee considering his nomination that he's not sure if waterboarding violates laws prohibiting torture.

In a four-page letter [.pdf] to the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee, Mukasey stated:

I was asked at the hearing and in your letter questions about the hypothetical use of certain coercive interrogation techniques. As described in your letter, these techniques seem over the line or, on a personal basis, repugnant to me, and would probably seem the same to many Americans. But hypotheticals are different from real life, and in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical.

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) pinpointed the problem with Mukasey's letter:

We asked Judge Mukasey a simple and straightforward question: Is waterboarding illegal? While this question has been answered clearly by many others . . . Judge Mukasey spent four pages responding and still didn't provide an answer.

Let's spell this out for Judge Mukasey: Waterboarding is a type of torture. As such, it violates both domestic and international law.