Full Senate Should Seek What the Judiciary Committee Failed To Obtain

November 6, 2007 12:00 am

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Senate Should Not Move Forward with an Attorney General Nominee Who Refuses to Classify Waterboarding as Torture

CONTACT: media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON– – As the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to approve the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey for attorney general, the American Civil Liberties Union now calls upon the full Senate to obtain what the committee could not – an admission from the nominee that waterboarding and other extreme interrogation tactics are torture. During the confirmation hearings and in his responses to further questions, Judge Mukasey carefully avoided stating whether waterboarding is torture when authorized by the federal government, as well as refusing to say that it is also illegal for foreign countries to waterboard, beat and shock American citizens.

The United States needs an attorney general who clearly grasps the concept of the law – knowing what is and what is not illegal behavior. American values, as well as our security, are at stake,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Judge Mukasey should be able to easily reaffirm what is already considered torture, especially when failing to do so could endanger the safety of Americans abroad. His experience on the bench signifies his capacity to do so; his willingness is all that is lacking. Proclaiming waterboarding’s illegality should be a very easy hurdle for a nominee to head the Department of Justice.”

The ACLU has demanded a commitment that Judge Mukasey “just say no to waterboarding.” The Senate Judiciary Committee was unable to obtain such a commitment, although great efforts were made. The ACLU now calls on the entire Senate to reassure the American people that our next attorney general clearly grasps already established law.

“Judge Mukasey’s nomination went from being a walk-in-the-park to a rocky road that was hinging on the vote of one or two committee members,” said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Any commitment from Judge Mukasey to enforce possible future legislation on waterboarding is appreciated, but he should first enforce the laws that are already on the books. Congress has enacted four statutes and ratified two treaties that ban all torture, which includes waterboarding. Judge Mukasey should simply state what every civilized country knows–that waterboarding is torture and a crime.”

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