Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You can waterboard, but for the love of God, don't "pick nits!"

US Attorney Gen. Michael B. Mukasey is testified before the Sen. Judiciary Committee today. Both skdadl and I followed his testimony as closely as our c-span streaming abilities would allow. You can read our collective notes on the hearings here:
I will clean-up these notes later today, after I've rested my poor, tired fingers ;)

A quick word about the hearings: Mukasey is a loathsome human bean. You don't have to read the entire testimony to be convinced--here's everything you need to know about Mukasey (where "WB" is waterboarding, "D" is Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and "M" is AG Mukasey):
12:27 PM

Durbin: I asked you who your heroes were. You said you kept a picture of Orwell b/c of his essay, Politics and the English language. I respect you for that. In that essay, Orwell was critical of misleading pol speech ("concrete melts into the abstract") Mr. AG, I'd say, with respect to waterboarding, that the concrete melts into the abstract.

D: (I'm) still troubled as I listen to your answers. First, you say in your letter to cmtee that reasonable people can disagree with respect to WB. Can you cite any court cases, scholars, people of good faith who disagree that WB is not torture? Secondly, when you replied to Biden, you said WB in certain circs would no shock conscience, e.g discovery of nukes. Why has gov discontinued this form of interrogation if there *are* circumstances that justify it? Third, your unwillingness to take an unequivocal position against WB--our troops protected against WB. There are special forces, personnel...
12:31 PM

M: some in this chamber have disputed that it wouldn't be legal to engage in certain techniques...and then pull back, if necessary to save American lives

D: the Senate? We've voted on a bipartisan, overwhelming vote to prohibit certain practices, the McCain amendment...

M: and the chamber on another occasion declined, with respect to WBg, and others who said the lang was so general that it would open things up to other things that would be so objectionable and cruel...

D: if Detainee treatment act is so clear, and went so far as to grant amnesty to employees who engaged in it, you still think the jury's out on whether WBg is torture?

M: question is not whether Sen is "out" on this or that technique, the question is whether Senate has spoken clearly enough in leg it has passed, and that President has signed, which is all anybody has to work with

D: where is lack of clarity in McCain legislation?

M: the words, people on both sides of debate, to point to "this" or "that" seems to me is to pick nits at this point

D: as chairman has noted, Sens McCain, Warner and Graham (sponsors of legislation) that under Military Commissions Act, WBg is a "warcrime." At this moment, you have employees of yours in Iraq, counselling employees not to use torture. Your testimony so far is that "it depends on circs"--we're trying to teach to the world, a standard we want our own people to live by?

M: the reasons I outlined are already matters of record.
D: Sen Biden's question? About "shocking conscience"?

M: what I described was a situation in which it *would* shock conscience. It was put in place by the person who wrote the decision. Not by me.

D: I assume you were arguing that the use of such techs to discover nukes would not shock conscience?

M: No...that's not what I said

D: what about circs where tech would save lives?

M: not part of program. Don't know how that would work

D: under military standards, they're not interested in danger. They say unequivocally. You say, for non-military it's still unresolved?

M: still unresolved. I've not been presented with a concrete situation.
It was to weep.

I've got so much to say about this. For now, it appears to be clogging my windpipe. More later.


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