Pres. Bush's pick to replace Alberto Gonzales is sinking fast because he refuses to say that waterboarding is torture. Now Sen. Kennedy, who previously had defended Mukasey's right to be evasive on this issue, has announced his intention to vote against the nomination:
President Bush, seeking Thursday to salvage the embattled nomination of Michael Mukasey as attorney general, defended the former judge's refusal to say whether he considers waterboarding as illegal torture. But the nomination suffered another setback in the Senate.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said that Mukasey's unwillingness to answer definitively on the legality of the interrogation method that simulates drowning increases chances that it could be used against U.S. troops.
"I therefore intend to oppose this nomination," Kennedy said in remarks prepared for the Senate floor. "Judge Mukasey appears to be a careful, conscientious and intelligent lawyer, and he has served our country honorably for many years. But those qualities are not enough for this critical position at this critical time."
Bush's response to the committee's insistence that Mukasey say if he believes waterboarding to be torture is very revealing:
Bush said it was unfair to ask Mukasey about interrogation techniques on which he has not been briefed. "He doesn't know whether we use that technique or not," the president told a group of reporters invited into the Oval Office.
He doesn't know whether we use that technique or not? Why would he have to know whether the United States government waterboards prisoners in order to say it's torture? Surely, the president does not mean to suggest that waterboarding is not torture if we do it?