Mukasey’s mistake

Former federal judge Michael Mukasey will certainly be confirmed as U.S. attorney general, but the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 11-8 approval of this otherwise qualified candidate was closer than it should have been.

Mukasey’s misstep was to appear to denounce torture without exception on the first day of his hearings and then come back the next and appear to waffle on a particular form of brutal interrogation — waterboarding — that the White House finds acceptable but many others consider to clearly be torture.

Mukasey said he found the practice repugnant but refused, despite prodding from a majority of the committee, to go beyond that. It was embarrassing to the United States and evidence of how far our claims to moral leadership have fallen that the nominee to the top legal office in the land found himself in that position.

If he flatly declared that waterboarding was torture, it could be construed as an admission of war crimes and made U.S. agents who might have engaged in the technique overseas subject to prosecution by foreign courts. And, unless Mukasey wanted to seem a total hypocrite, he would be committed to prosecuting U.S. interrogators who engaged in waterboarding under the belief that the White House and its infamous “torture memos” had cleared them to do so.

Mukasey may yet face that dilemma, but at least it won’t be from a prejudicial position. And he takes office clearly understanding that the lawmakers to whom he must answer consider waterboarding to be torture and thus illegal and unacceptable.


  1. Steve Horn

    Well, if we really need to define waterboarding as torture (we’ve held it as such for years and have considered it worthy of war trials prosecution before) then we’d better add the rack, a bed of nails, live burrial, putting vice grips on your nuts, pulling out fingernails, hot pokers into various body openings and threats of beheading to the specific list of “tortures” lest someone like Bush, at some future time decide to incorporate said methods.

    Do we really need to define torture? I mean seriously, can you honestly say that simulated drowning is NOT a form of torture?

    But it doesn’t matter – once again the Dem’s have caved – giving “W” what he wants so the nation can continue it’s downward spiral – eventually we will be a third world nation – if Bush and company have their way – with a few rich fucks whipping the rest of us – it doesn’t have to be that way but if we don’t get off our collective asses and start doing something it’s inevitable.


  2. nigeldh

    Dale seems to have missed the rich history of Mukasey caving in and jack booting folks.

    As a Judge, during the first WTC bombing trial Mukasey ignore FBI incompetence that set the stage for 9/11/2001 to happen.
    Worse, during the 1995 trial, Judge Mukasey helped bury the significance of …. on why the FBI failed to stop the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. …

    Martin Garbus: Mukasey’s Confirmation Will be a Disaster …
    It can be aimed at the country’s best defense lawyers and those lawyers that defend … Mukasey’s defense came three days after the Massachusetts Bar …

    For those gentle readers who don’t know what waterboarding looks like, you can watch it on your TV in the privacy of your own homes.
    The Avengers episode Murdersville has a dunking pole scene with Mrs Peel, Diana Rigg, being dunked to get her to talk.
    The Episode Guide to Season 5B (1967) of The Avengers. Episode 23 – Murdersville.