AG Mukasey must be better than Gonzalez was, but this is really stupid:
“Given that waterboarding is not part of the current program and may never be added to the current program, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to pass definitive judgment on the technique’s legality,” the attorney general said, speaking in the cautious way that his Senate questioners have sometimes found evasive and infuriating.
The anger of some committee members was further stoked on Tuesday evening, when in a letter to the panel Mr. Mukasey said that waterboarding was not clearly illegal and that perhaps it could be used again against terrorism suspects if requested by the White House.
Let’s see, cutting people’s fingers off, searing someone with a red-hot iron poker, boiling one alive, and many other things are not part of the current program–does he think he shouldn’t pass judgement on them also? What if it happens to a US citizen in another country? The extra stupidity is that US officials HAVE used waterboarding–wouldn’t it make sense to say if they committed an illegal act, since torture is illegal. In terms of whether it is torture, Senator Leahy gives the obvious response:
Mr. Leahy was contemptuous of that stand. “Never mind that we prosecuted Japanese soldiers for waterboarding Americans during World War II,” he said. “Never mind that this is the practice of repressive regimes around the world.”
And that doesn’t include the fact that the Army says it’s torture which may be Tom Ridge and Mike McConnell agree that it’s torture. I understand that Mukasey would have a hard time saying waterboarding is torture because that would mean people in the CIA and elsewhere should be prosecuted, but really couldn’t he at least take the trouble to think up something that made sense?
The article also has one bit of good journalism:
But a committee Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, came to the defense of the attorney general and the administration, saying that it was “an embarrassment” that the questions might create an impression that American interrogators have often engaged in waterboarding.
“That is not true,” Mr. Sessions said. The administration has confirmed that the technique was used on a few suspected Al Qaeda figures captured after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
See, is that so hard? Sessions says something that is obviously not true and the reporter notes that what Sessions said is not true.