The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Nomination of Mukasey for attorney general approved

The nomination of Michael B. Mukasey to become the next U.S. attorney general was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday despite his refusal to say whether he thinks waterboarding is illegal.

Mukasey would become the U.S. attorney general if the Senate votes to confirm the nomination next week.

The vote, 11-8, depended on two key votes from Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles E. Schumer of New York, both of which announced their support last week. The nine other Republicans on the committee also voted to approve the nomination.

.They voted to approve Mukasey’s nomination because he said he’d support any legislation Congress passes outlawing waterboarding, which he said the president would have no legal or inherent authority to ignore.

“I don’t believe that Judge Mukasey should be denied confirmation for failing to find an absolute answer on this one subject,” Feinstein said after she voted to approve the nomination.

There was no opposition to Mukasey’s nomination before he was asked his views regarding waterboarding. Although it was the most scrutinized issue, Mukasey was also asked his views on presidents’ expansive powers during wartime.

Waterboarding has been practiced in different ways, including pouring water on people’s faces, which causes them to experience the effects of drowning, a technique used during the Spanish Inquisition.

“Torture violates the law and the Constitution, and the President may not authorize it, as he is no less bound by constitutional restrictions than any other government official,” Mukasey stated in a letter.

Mukasey also stated in a letter that he considers waterboarding “over the line” and “repugnant,” though he said he would have to look at the facts and circumstances to determine whether waterboarding is illegal.

“Our law makes torture illegal, and waterboarding is torture and it is illegal,” Chairman Patrick J. Leahy said. “No American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture.”

Groups such as the National Religious Campaign Against Torture are opposed to Mukasey’s nomination because they think his responses indicate that the U.S. would be able to continue to practice waterboarding.

There have been three reported and documented cases of the Central Intelligence Agency using waterboarding during an interrogation after Sept. 11.

The U.S. military can’t use waterboarding because it would violate the Detainee Treatment Act. President Bush signed a law in 2005 prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Waterboarding also violates Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, who voted for Mukasey, expressed his concern about the message the U.S. would send if it were granted the authority to used torture techniques during interrogations in rare circumstances, but held firm to his belief that the nominee would uphold the law.

“The world is not short of people and countries who will waterboard you,” Graham said. “There is a shortage of people who believe in justice, not vengeance.”

The confirmation vote on the Senate floor is expected to take place next week in which Mukasey is practically a shoo-in, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid and Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, who voted against the nominee, stated their opposition to his nomination.

Mukasey would take the place of Alberto Gonzalez, who resigned from his post amid controversy regarding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Gonzalez was also responsible for the administrations’ torture policy.

“(Gonzalez) requested and disseminated the infamous torture memo that limited the definition of tort to abuse that cause’s pain equivalent to organ failure and death,” Durbin said.

Neither Reid nor Durbin have said whether they’ll filibuster Mukasey’s conformation vote.

Chairman Leahy alluded to John Bellinger, senior aide of the State Department, who also refused to state whether waterboarding is torture, before the vote.

“He said that he was not willing to ‘include it or exclude it and that he did not want to ‘get involved in abstract discussions,'” Leahy said. “That is so wrong that it is chilling.”

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