Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Michael "I Dunno" Mukasey Nomination Going to Vote

Spectacular. The Attorney General nominee isn't sure whether waterboarding is torture or not--no word on whether he takes the Giuliani "it depends on who does it" tack or the Limbaugh "splashing a little water in a guy's face" angle--and Bush says it's an unfair question because he hasn't been briefed on top secret enhanced interrogation techniques and Feinstein and Schumer say he's the best we can expect from this administration and he promises to enforce any future laws that may ban torture, should the Congress ever grow a spine, so bam, there you have it.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) spoke out furiously against Mukasey's answers on torture, specifically dismissing the assurances the nominee gave to Schumer last week that he would enforce an anti-torture law if Congress were to pass one.

"He will in fact enforce the laws that we pass in the future? Can our standards have really sunk so low?" Kennedy said. "Enforcing the law is the job of the attorney general. It's a prerequisite, not a virtue."

In related news, reported by The Guardian,

The top legal adviser within the US state department, who counsels the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, on international law, has declined to rule out the use of the interrogation technique known as waterboarding even if it were applied by foreign intelligence services on US citizens. ...

When Mr Sands said he found Mr Bellinger's inability to exclude waterboarding on Americans very curious, the US official replied: "Well, I'm not willing to include it or exclude it. Our justice department has concluded that we just don't want to get involved in abstract discussions."

I am not sure where abstraction comes in to this discussion, unless the question of precisely how inhuman it is to convince a person he's seconds away from death by drowning has suddenly moved from the concrete, material world to the lofty sphere of philosophy. Perhaps by "abstract discussion," Mr. Bellinger means to say "hypothetical question," such as "when George Bush and Dick Cheney attempt to travel to their retirement estates in Uruguay in January 2008, will they be subject to arrest and prosecution for crimes against humanity, much like Augusto Pinochet was and, more recently, Donald Rumsfeld almost was?"

If Mr. Bellinger and Mr. Mukasey require more information to help them move from abstraction to reality, they can give waterboarding.org a look; the site was helpfully put together with people just like them (actually, people exactly them) in mind.

Waterboarding.org would like to offer to help the nominee become more familiar with water-based coercive interrogation techniques. Using unclassified sources, news reports, and historical records we are attempting to put together as clear a picture as possible of this technique, its history, its legality, and the scope of its use. We are also attempting to organize a group of doctors, paramedics, lawyers, and volunteers to allow anyone who remains confused or unclear on the details of waterboarding to safely subject themselves to as much of the technique as they are willing to endure.

We look forward to advising, educating, and assisting Michael Mukasey, future candidates, public figures, and anyone else who professes ignorance of our nation's most controversial coercive interrogation technique.

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