Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey has repeatedly refused to state whether or not waterboarding is illegal. In a legal dodge, Mukasey called the torture technique “hypothetical” and said that he would need the “actual facts and circumstances” to strike a “legal opinion.”
But in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), four retired Judge Advocates General (JAGs) — the judicial arm of the U.S. military — sharply criticize Judge Mukasey’s legal hedging. They unequivocally state that waterboarding is torture. From their letter:
In the course of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of President Bush’s nominee for the post of Attorney General, there has been much discussion, but little clarity, about the legality of “waterboarding” under United States and international law. We write because this issue above all demands clarity: Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal. […]
This is a critically important issue – but it is not, and never has been, a complex issue, and even to suggest otherwise does a terrible disservice to this nation. […]
In this instance, the relevant rule – the law – has long been clear: Waterboarding detainees amounts to illegal torture in all circumstances. To suggest otherwise – or even to give credence to such a suggestion – represents both an affront to the law and to the core values of our nation.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the JAG Corp. in the U.S. Air Force, also once condemned waterboarding as “illegal.” “I don’t think you have to have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates” the Geneva Convention and other statutes, said Graham.
Yet Graham has now sold out his principles in return for campaign assistance from President Bush. The South Carolina senator, who recently announced his support for Mukasey, was rewarded with an appearance by the President at a “high-roller fundraiser” kicking off his ’08 re-election campaign. Bush yesterday said that he has “no better ally than Lindsey Graham” in pushing forward his nominees through the Senate.
View the JAGs’ full letter HERE.