Mukasey on Waterboarding: 'It Would Be Torture If It Were Done to Me'

Attorney General Michael Mukasey went before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning -- his first appearance since his confirmation hearings last fall -- but don't feel too bad if you weren't watching C-Span. Despite deploying some pointed questions -- "Would waterboarding be torture if done to you?" (Answer: "I would feel that it was") -- the Senators learned nothing new about the DOJ's torture policy from the man holding the position of top law enforcer in the country.

Not that it came as a surprise. Aside from Mukasey's repeated suggestions that he may never answer whether waterboarding is torture, last night the senators received a letter from the Attorney General, in which he promised to answer their questions "to the best of my ability," but reserved the right to impose certain "limits" on his answers. "I recognize that those limits may make my task [before the committee] more difficult for me personally," he wrote. Nevertheless: "My job as attorney general is to do what I believe the law requires and what is best for the country, not what makes my life easier." (What a guy.)

That said, Mukasey said he has given the matter a lot of thought and has concluded that all the CIA's current interrogation techniques "comply with the law." Moreover, "I have been authorized to disclose publicly that waterboarding is not among those methods." At least, not at the moment. Should, however, waterboarding be officially re-introduced as an official interrogation technique, Mukasey explained:

"That process would begin with the C.I.A. director's determination that the addition of the technique was required for the program … Then the attorney general [Editor's Note: That's him!] would have to determine that the use of the technique is lawful under the particular conditions and circumstances proposed. Finally the president would have to approve of the use of the technique."

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