Mukasey Losing Democrats' Backing
Nominee Unsure If Waterboarding Breaks Torture Law
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, October 31, 2007; Page A01
Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey told Senate Democrats yesterday that a kind of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is "repugnant to me," but he said he does not know whether the interrogation tactic violates U.S. laws against torture.
Mukasey's uncertainty about the method's legality has raised new questions about the success of his nomination. It seemed a sure thing just two weeks ago, as Democrats joined Republicans in predicting his easy confirmation to succeed the embattled Alberto R. Gonzales.
. . . All four Democratic senators running for president said before the release of Mukasey's letter yesterday evening that they will vote against him because of his handling of the waterboarding issue.
. . . seizing on the waterboarding issue, Democrats hope to force Mukasey to disavow a controversial technique that top Bush administration officials have deemed legal. If he were to say the tactic is illegal, he would effectively deem earlier Justice Department opinions unlawful.
Unable to stop, slow down, hold back or otherwise be more annoying than gnats in the face of neocons, the Dems cannot afford to lose this one--but probably will.
Chairman Leahy, for all his grandfatherly advice about the spirit and letter of law, has been astonishingly unwilling to actually do anything about it. His subpoenas against Harriet Miers and Karl Rove go laughingly unanswered and Alberto Gonzales has enjoyed the last giggle by simply resigning.
Six feet, thus far unheld to even the warmth of contempt, much less a fire.