Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mukasey on waterboarding; Dems throw hissy fit

Yeah, I'm about to dive into this subject again, which prompted a lot of ticked off e-mailers when it came up back in November, and that issue is waterboarding. Now, before anyone goes off half-cocked, let me cite the story from the WaPo first: (Please pay attention to where I put the emphasis, TY.)

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey told skeptical senators today that it is "not an easy question' to determine whether waterboarding constitutes illegal torture under U.S. law, but he said there is no need to provide a clear answer because the tactic is no longer employed by the CIA.

During his first appearance at the Senate Judiciary Committee since becoming head of the Justice Department, Mukasey also refused to say whether it would be illegal for another country to subject a U.S. citizen to waterboarding overseas.

"If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on the subject," Mukasey said, referring to the debate over the legality of waterboarding, an interrogation tactic that subjects the victim to simulated drowning. "But with respect, this is not an easy question."

Mukasey's lawyerly and limited responses prompted sharp criticism from the committee's chairman,
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who complained that "it is not enough to say that waterboarding is not currently authorized."

"Torture and illegality have no place in America," Leahy said.

Mukasey said that waterboarding appears to be clearly prohibited by current law in some circumstances but that other circumstances would present "a far closer question." He did not elaborate on what circumstances he was referring to, and said that any such discussion could reveal potential interrogation methods to America's enemies.

Under questioning from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Mukasey said that some interrogation methods, such as maiming or raping prisoners, are clearly outlawed by statute.

Waterboarding is not specifically forbidden by law, however.

The waterboarding question became the central issue surrounding Mukasey's appointment, which was nearly derailed in November because of his refusal to render a firm legal judgment on it.

Mukasey testified that waterboarding is not part of a "limited set of methods" used by CIA interrogators. He also said he has found the current methods, which he did not specify, to be legal.

"I understand the strong interest in this question, but I do not think it would be responsible for me, as attorney general, to provide an answer," Mukasey said.

Kennedy complained about Mukasey's reasoning. "It's like saying you're opposed to stealing but not quite sure whether bank robbery would qualify," Kennedy said. "The CIA did use waterboarding and nobody is being held accountable."

First, to Senator Blowhard (and Barack Obama's new favorite friend), waterboarding isn't torture under the definition of the law. Congress had the chance to forbid the practice back in 2006, with the Military Commissions Act, and they balked at it. (The last speculated/reported time that waterboarding was used was back in 2003.) It's been used three times, and has been highly effective.

Michael Mukasey was right to hesitate in answering whether it's torture or not. Under US law, it's not. It hasn't specifically been outlawed. While there are some legal wranglings involved, such as whether the person believes they're in "imminent danger," the legal analysts like John Yoo have explained that waterboarding wasn't only covered by US law, at the time of it's use, but is considered to be in the purview of the president's war powers. He can order it to protect the nation, if he believes it will net him the necessary intelligence to act on behalf of national security.

Personally, I find those declaring waterboarding as torture to be partisan in their opinions. The letter of the law says this doesn't constitute torture. And Mukasey shouldn't be compelled to state what new techniques are used by our intelligence agencies to obtain real-time, workable intelligence. The Democrats have thrown hissy fits before, but this one takes the cake. They can be outraged all they want, but in no way should they be able to bully an administration official into saying something that can be used against them. And that's what they were trying to get out of him.

This wasn't about what was right and wrong, or whether something was legal or not. They wanted to beat on Mukasey in the hopes that he'd act like a self-loathing Republican, and apologize, or let slip something he shouldn't. These guys know that waterboarding could have been made illegal, but they didn't do it. Instead of kvetching about the issue, maybe they should have actually done something; maybe they should have done their job. That's the easiest way to end this debate, but they don't seem eager to do that, which proves, once again, that Democrats can't provide a solution. They just b*tch about the problems.

Publius II


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