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Mukasey Confirmed; Waterboarding Is Still Torture

Friday, Nov. 09, 2007 4:30 AM

The Senate has confirmed Judge Michael Mukasey as the next Attorney General of the United States. Mukasey's tenure begins as soon as he takes his oath of office, which President Bush could administer as early as today.

Schumer explained that he's confident that, should Congress pass a law banning torture, that Judge Mukasey will enforce that law. Except it's already against the law, and since Mukasey has also upheld the super-secret powers of the president in a time of war, he basically told Congress they could sit on it and spin ... but that seems to have gone unnoticed.

Schumer also shared a moment of starry-eyed idealism with us peons - he believes that Mukasey's stand (or lack thereof) on torture shouldn't blot out all the other good things he's done.

Sen. Arlen Specter also gets a share of the numerous Boots to the Head that need handing out on this issue.

"He (Mukasey) felt that he could not make that pronouncement without placing people at risk to be sued or perhaps even criminally prosecuted," Specter said.

That is the point of having laws against certain practices, isn't it? That if you break those laws, you become liable and subject to prosecution?

It's time for Congressional leaders to demand Mukasey be fully briefed on the details of the program and then call him front-and-center for the answer he hedged on, and which Mr. Bush affirmed he could not answer because 'he wasn't briefed in.'

Let's be clear: waterboarding is torture, and it is illegal. Four former Judge Advocate Generals say so. So does a former Navy SEAL who oversaw the SERE program, in which candidates are subjected to simulated capture and abuse.

In Pakistan, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto woke to find herself under house arrest. As if Musharraf, who has already arrested court justices and lawyers, would hesitate to flex a little muscle in Bhutto's direction after she called for her followers to mass for a rally against him.

The State of Emergency has now lasted a full week. Musharraf has stated that elections will take place in February, but I figure that's as solid as the Democrats' talk of stopping the war.

And has anyone else noticed that Bhutto is making speeches in English? I suspect this is as much about rehabilitating her 'image' as championing democracy abroad.

The unintentional irony (or is that comedy?) coming out of the White House continues, as President Bush solemnly remarked that Musharraf cannot be in charge of both the government and the military at the same time.

Unless, of course, you're the Amazing Commander Guy. Mr. Flight Suit. The Decider. The War President.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pitching the latest no-promise from the Democratic leadership - that there will be no passage of a funding bill if Mr. Bush vetoes provisions for withdrawal from Iraq.

It's a no-promise because we've heard this bullshit before from Pelosi, only to see the Democrats waffle and wail and fold the moment Bush gives them a finger-waggling rebuke.

It's a no-promise because there's no means of holding Mr. Bush accountable; he's the one who has to give the green light to the Pentagon to begin any draw-down of troops. He can stand there and wax poetic about 'return on success,' which is already proving to be a lie. (General Petraeus talked of success, yet we called up additional troops, and there's been no movement on troop withdrawal.)

In the wake of the 58,000 gallon oil spill fouling San Francisco Bay after a container ship grazed one of the Bay Bridge towers in heavy fog, opportunistic politicians are rushing to the fore demanding explanations. From the Coast Guard, asking why they were 'so slow' to respond. Why their original estimates were so low. And so on.

There's no disputing the impact of the spill on local wildlife, but it won't be ameliorated by bureaucratic posturing. Go write a bill to create a response unit, or encourage development of remedial technology.

And kudos to KPIX's John Kessler for an ad-lib remark about a story that there's a new al-Qaeda threat against holiday shoppers. (War on Christmas! War on Christmas! Booga-booga!)

"Oh, so if the toys don't kill you, the al-Qaeda will?" he smirked.

The story stems from an FBI memo indicating a possible plot to attack malls in Los Angeles and Chicago, though the usual doublespeak applies - the plot has been in the works for two years, but the FBI doesn't regard it as credible - we're just telling you to cover our asses if something does happen.

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