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Archive for January 24th, 2008

The Senate’s Chance to Redeem Itself on Mukasey and Torture

Posted by stoptorture on 24th January 2008

When asked at his confirmation hearing whether waterboarding used and approved by the Bush administration against detainees was torture, Michael Mukasey refused to answer because he had not been “read-in” on the details of the program. Well, after nearly three months as Attorney General, Mukasey has had plenty of opportunity to get any information he said he needed.

Having been “read-in” on the U.S. interrogation programs, what does Attorney General Mukasey think of waterboarding now? On January 30 at 10AM, he will have a chance to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee that voted to confirm him and answer precisely that question.

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats have asked Mukasey in a letter to come prepared to answer two questions:

1. Is the use of waterboarding as an interrogation technique illegal under U.S. law, including treaty obligations?

2. Based on your review of other coercive interrogation techniques and the legal analysis authorizing their use, what is your assessment of whether such techniques comply with the law?

Both these questions are good, but they do not touch on the central issue: accountability. As explained in a previous post, only the threat of criminal sanction can stop the U.S. torture program, and if the senators shy away from demanding that, they will be handing another victory to the torturers. If the senators are serious about ending the torture policy, they must also ask Mukasey the following questions:

3. Was the authorization of waterboarding criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws?

4. Was the use of waterboarding criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws?

5. Was the authorization of any of the techniques listed below criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws? Was the use of any of the techniques listed below criminal under the War Crimes Act, the Torture Statute, or other applicable laws?:

4. Will you appoint a special counsel to conduct a full, public, and impartial criminal investigation on the authorization or use by U.S. personnel or assets of any of the above mentioned techniques against detainees?

Posted in Activism, Events, Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 19 Comments »