As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where'd This Come From

I'll believe it when I see it, but the Senate is certainly talking like they're going to reject Michael Mukasey until they get the right answer on torture.

Judge Michael Mukasey's nomination for attorney general ran into trouble Thursday when two top Senate Democrats said their votes hinge on whether he will say on the record that an interrogation technique that simulates drowning is torture.

"It's fair to say my vote would depend on him answering that question," Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters late Thursday.

"This to me is the seminal issue," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, another member of Leahy's panel. Asked if his vote depends on whether Mukasey equates waterboarding with torture, Durbin answered, "It does."

Leahy has refused to set a date for a vote on Mukasey's nomination until he clarifies his answer to that question.

Of course, a normal Administration would set Mukasey aside and put forth a compromise candidate, but whoever the White House dug up post-Mukasey would probably be worse.

But remember, the McCain torture amendment passed the Senate 90-9. There's a fair bit of consensus on the issue, outside of the Bush Administration and the nutjobs running for President. And Mukasey's answers about a President's right to virtually unchecked executive power ought not to inspire confidence in members of the legislative branch. Indeed, Republicans like Arlen Specter are making noises about voting no, although you can set your watch in Washington by the number of times he "expressed deep concern" and then votes the wrong way anyway.

If Democrats want to make torture a defining issue, I couldn't argue with it. Digby has a fabulous post on the subject the other day, saying that the failure of leadership at the top of the Republican Party has led to a dangerous backsliding on the question throughout the country, and some leadership in the other direction would be welcome.

If you believe that anything the US does is by definition "good" then you might agree that whether or not this act is torture "depends on who's doing it", I suppose. But the technique is exactly the same down through the ages, so there is no way that it depends on "how it's done."

The administration and the Republicans running for president refuse to admit that this practice is immoral and illegal. So does the president's nominee for Attorney General, a man who is currently a judge and someone that anyone could point to as being among the most elite, establishment legal thinkers. You can't really blame all those "Law and Order" fans for publicly going ballistic that their show would even tepidly imply as it did that such practices may be wrong. Their leaders certainly don't seem to think so. Whatever taboo there once was has been completely removed.

Unless the Democrats force Americans to come to terms with their own shame. I refuse to believe that we're too far gone to stuff this right back in the hellish box from whence it came. It just involves people standing up and saying, strongly and clearly, NO. This is not the country I believe in. This is not where I was born. This is not part of me.

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