Mukasey Confirmation Becomes the ‘Waterboarding’ Hearing

November 04, 2007 05:54 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The opposition to Michael Mukasey’s nomination as attorney general leads his supporters to accuse Democrats of the self-interested politicizing of a controversial interrogation technique.

30-Second Summary

His nomination as attorney general looked like a sure thing for Judge Michael Mukasey until Oct. 18, the day he repeatedly declined to tell the judiciary committee whether waterboarding is torture. His demurral rapidly became the focus of the hearing.

On Oct. 30, Mukasey attempted to defuse the issue with a letter addressed to the 10 democratic senators on the committee. He described the interrogation technique, which simulates drowning, as "repugnant."

But he stated that "actual facts, circumstances, and the legal standards presented" must decide the legality of the practice.

A number of Democrats found this answer unsatisfactory. Four of the 10 Democrats on the 19-person committee decided to oppose his nomination, as have all 4 senators who are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Wall Street Journal argued that Democrats are exploiting the issue in order to make political capital.

The Washington Post wrote that Mukasey committed himself to reviewing the law governing interrogation and "if he is rejected no nominee is likely to promise more." The Chicago Tribune and the Seattle Post Intelligencer also sided with the nominee.

One commentator receiving less coverage was picked up by Slate. Michael Nance is a counterterrorism consultant for U.S. military and government agencies with first-hand experience of the interrogation technique in question.

His assessment is unequivocal: "Waterboarding is torture. Period."

Headline Link: Democrats and Bush on Mukasey

Opinion: The realities of legal practice and the realities of waterboarding

Reference Material: Mukasey’s letter to Democrats and waterboarding described


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