Drip, drip, drip …

Since 1901 we have prosecuted enemy soldiers who employed waterboarding against our troops during the Spanish-American War. Part of the work at Nuremburg tribunals was to prosecute those who engaged in waterboarding and find them guilty of war crimes. It is a well-accepted principle of International Law that waterboarding is torture and that perpetrators should be tried for war crimes. Waterboarding is against the Geneva Convention. Waterboarding has been around since at least the Spanish Inquisition (which gave us the Iron Maiden and other grisly torture techniques).
But now we have a problem. We have a nominee for Attorney General who cannot be brought to equate waterboarding and torture. Mukasey says that torture is certainly illegal. But he’s not so sure about waterboarding — that is simply “repugnant”. I watched Mukasey play dodgeball with Patrick Leahy when Leahy tried to pin him down on waterboarding at recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Leahy said:

“I remain very concerned that Judge Mukasey finds himself unable to state unequivocally that waterboarding is illegal and below the standards and values of the United States,”

I wondered what kind of person would put tricky legalisms and fine distinctions between himself and simple human decency.

What kind of a country have we become that we even have to have this discussion? There was a time not so long ago when we as a nation didn’t have to hide behind a tissue of legalisms. We as a nation did not torture. Period.

This confirmation process is a kind of water torture for those of us who believe that every human being should be secure from cruel and inhumane treatment.

The eighth amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment” for those who have been guilty of  crime. There is a bedrock expectation embedded in the Constitution that there will be due process and a trial before any punishment is meted out.

Now we confront a nominee to the position of chief law enforcement officer who refuses to disavow waterboarding and other cruel and inhuman treatment being visited on those who have not even had a trial and have not been found guilty of any crime.

Mukasey has strayed so far from the tenets of the Constitution that there is no way he should become U.S. Attorney General. Surely the American people and the Constitution deserve better.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Interrogation, Leahy, Mukasey, Torture, Uncategorized, waterboarding

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