How is Waterboarding Not Torture?

20 10 2007

On his second day of his confirmation hearings, retired Judge Michael Mukasey was asked by Senator Whitehouse whether or not he considered waterboarding torture. Most reasonable people would think this is a no-brainer, especially since Mukasey said on the first day of his testimony that torture was antithetical to American values and that “the president can’t authorize torture because torture is barred both by statute and the constitution.” But just as he skirted around the question of closing down Gitmo, Mukasey did the same on waterboarding by spouting legalism.

Watch it.

It’s also a rather odd that Mukasey claimed he could not say whether or not it was torture because he did not know what was involved in the technique and yet is touted as a judge experience in national security issues and terrorism cases.

He could not have expected the committee to sincerely believe that he was unfamiliar with what was actually involved in waterboarding. So Sen. Whitehouse gave him the quick and dirty and told him that it consisted of “putting someone in a reclining position, strapping him down, putting cloth over their faces and pouring water over the cloth to simulate the feeling of drowning.” That kind of explanation should be clear to anyone. Yet all Mukasey said was “if it amounts to torture it is not Constitutional.”

Perhaps, this might be an indication that though he may be willing to tell the President no on certain occassions it does not mean he is not oppose to executive power operating outside of the bounds of law for national security reasons. This view of executive power might also explain why he was also reluctant to go along with shutting down Gitmo on day one of the hearings.

But more importantly, it seems to suggest that Mukasey may be unwilling to put a end to torture and other abuses once he becomes attorney general, despite saying such interrogation techniques are against everything this country stands for.

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