The New York Times editorial this morning told Senators that:
Mr. Mukasey should be asked what he thinks about holding detainees indefinitely in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and denying them habeas corpus rights. He should be made to explain which interrogation techniques he considers to be torture.
Well, they sort of did, and sort of got sort of good answers. Like everyone else, Mukasey is against torture. Unlike President Bush or Vice President Cheney or former AG Gonzales, he claims to really be against torture, the real kind, the kind used by U.S. torturers on real people in real torture centers. Or at least that’s how many interpreted his testimony today. But, like President Bush today, he refused to say what actually constitutes torture [from TPM Muckraker]:
That was, um, unexpected. Not only did Michael Mukasey repudiate the so-called 2002 “torture memo” signed by Office of Legal Counsel chief Jay Bybee — which appears to have survived in spirit, if not in letter — but he compared U.S. torture to the Holocaust.
Most significantly, Mukasey said that he is unaware of any inherent commander-in-chief authority to override legal restrictions on torture — a huge repudiation of Dick Cheney, David Addington and John Yoo’s perspective on broad constitutional powers possessed by the president in wartime — or to immunize practitioners of torture from prosecution. That answer is sure to create anxiety inside the CIA, where many interrogators fear that they will be brought up on charges for carrying out interrogation methods earlier approved by the administration.
The Bybee memo is “worse than a sin, it’s a mistake,” Mukasey said. He referenced the photographs taken by U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camps in 1945 to document the “barbarism” the U.S. opposed. “They didn’t do that so we could duplicate what we oppose.” Beyond legal restrictions barring torture clearly, torture is “antithetical to what this country stands for.”
He wouldn’t comment on the recent Steve Bradbury memo reported on by The New York Times authorizing some torture methods in 2005, since he hasn’t read it. But he told the panel that he would review all legal memoranda on interrogations and other national security programs to ensure their soundness.
So, is he against torture? Here’s video. You decide, if you can:
UPDATE: Valtin has sent this Media Matters alert that reminds us that Mukasey seems to believe that Americans have virtually no rights the President has to respect:
As Media Matters for America has noted, Padilla was arrested in May 2002 on a material witness warrant; the administration claimed he had been plotting to set off a “dirty bomb.” Bush designated Padilla an “enemy combatant” in June 2002, then directed the Defense Department to hold him without charges. Padilla’s lawyer filed a habeas corpus petition, which was argued before Mukasey, then the chief judge for the Southern District of New York.
On December 4, 2002, Mukasey ruled that “the President is authorized under the Constitution and by law to direct the military to detain enemy combatants in the circumstances present here, such that Padilla’s detention is not per se unlawful.” Instead, Mukasey ruled only that Padilla could “submit facts and argument” to challenge whether there was “some evidence” supporting President Bush’s finding that he was an “enemy combatant.”
he Second Circuit overturned Mukasey’s decision on December 18, 2003, holding that the Non Detention Act (18 U.S.C. 4001(a)) prohibited Padilla’s detention and that the president had not shown that “Padilla’s detention can nonetheless be grounded in the President’s inherent constitutional powers.” (As Media Matters has noted, the Supreme Court later dismissed the case on technical grounds.) In November 2006, shortly before the Supreme Court was due to decide whether to take Padilla’s re-filed case, the government indicted him on federal terrorism-related criminal charges, and transferred him out of military custody. In August 2007, as Media Matters has noted, Padilla was found guilty of those charges after a federal criminal trial.
1 comment October 17th, 2007