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DiFi and Chuck to Vote Yes on Mukasey

ea76cedf-754c-4712-a604-a13b490d230b.jpgFeinstein and Schumer will vote for Mukasey according to CNN and the AP:

Just hours before Feinstein and Schumer announced their decisions, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, announced he would vote against the Mukasey nomination.

“No American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture,” Leahy said. “Waterboarding was used at least as long ago as the Spanish Inquisition. We prosecuted Japanese war criminals for waterboarding after World War II.

Feinstein and Schumer’s cave-in follows the rather public admission that the CIA is using “special methods of questioning” during General Michael Hayden’s speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Speaking of extraordinary rendition, the director of the CIA said:

“Our programs are as lawful as they are valuable … The irreplaceable nature of that intelligence is the sole reason why we have what I admit freely is a very controversial program.”

Claiming that the CIA has gotten “thousands of intelligence reports from the ‘fewer than 100 hardened terrorists’ detained since 2002,” he continued:

“These rendition, detention, and interrogation programs are small, carefully run operations,” he said, adding that less than a third of the detainees “have required any special methods of questioning”.

He continued:

“It was my belief – and the agency has acted going forward – that what it was we would do to protect the Republic had to have sustainability … It had to be consistent with our broad values as a nation. And so it could not stand on a single pillar of a definition of lawfulness. It had to have both policy and political legs.”

Good to see that “lawfulness” is so revered by our CIA chief …

Mira Oberman, reporting for Agence France Presse also noted:

… when asked directly whether or not waterboarding constituted torture, General Hayden gave a muddled and confusing response in which he cited domestic and international law.

“Judge Mukasey cannot nor can I answer your question in the abstract,” he said.

“I need to understand the totality of the circumstances in which this question is being posed before I can even answer that.”

Perhaps someone from the Hague could explain the totality of the Geneva Accords to Gen. Hayden?

Meanwhile, Malcolm Nance, an advisor:

on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations and Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego, and claimed to have witnessed and supervised “hundreds” of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes and take place under medical supervision, he concluded that “waterboarding is a torture technique – period”.


While US media reports typically state that waterboarding involves “simulated drowning”, Mr Nance explained that “since the lungs are actually filling with water”, there is nothing simulated about it. “Waterboarding,” he said, “is slow-motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of blackout and expiration. When done right, it is controlled death.”

Mr Nance said US troops were trained to withstand waterboarding, watched by a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a backup team. “When performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt,” he added. “Most people cannot stand to watch a high-intensity, kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American.

Apparently Chuck and DiFi have no such questions.


Schumer has just released a statement saying:

Under this administration, {the president’s} nominee will certainly never share our views on issues like torture and wiretapping

Apparently, Schumer looked deep into Mukasey’s eyes and is … reassured?

This afternoon, I met with Judge Michael Mukasey one more time. I requested the meeting to address, in person, some of my concerns. The judge made clear to me that were Congress to pass a law banning certain interrogation techniques, we would clearly be acting within our constitutional authority. And he flatly told me that the president would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law, not even under some theory of inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution. He also pledged to enforce such a law and repeated his willingness to leave office rather than participate in a violation of law.

Given the Congress’ recent inability to stand firm when Bush whispers “national security” and the CIA claims “irreplaceable intelligence” … and this very willingness to cave on Mukasey, are we really reassured by Chuck’s rationale for his “hard decision?”

Update 2: Feinstein didn’t even claim Chuck’s rationale:

“In announcing her support for the nominee, Feinstein said: “First and foremost, Michael Mukasey is not Alberto Gonzales.”

Such high standards …

Update 3 and h/t to Selise: Clemons on Schumer 

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com