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Graham urges Mukasey clarification on waterboarding issue

[JURIST] US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official website] said Sunday that unless US Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey [WH profile] clarifies that he believes waterboarding is torture, Graham will consider opposing Mukasey's nomination. Speaking on CBS News' Face The Nation [transcript, PDF], Graham said that if Mukasey does not express opposition to the use of waterboarding, it will raise serious doubts about Mukasey's ability to serve as Attorney General:

I thought he did a good job explaining himself, generally speaking. But he was asked a specific question about an interrogation technique called waterboarding. I am convinced, as an individual senator, as a military lawyer for 25 years, that waterboarding, the technique that was described to Judge Mukasey does violate the Geneva Convention, does violate our war crimes statute and is clearly illegal under domestic and international law, and I think it would serve the attorney general nominee well to embrace that concept. He's talked around it. But you know, I want to win this war. And the way we win this war is to adhere to our values, don't adopt the enemies' values. The rule of law is something... that we embrace, and so I hope he will give a direct answer to that question. ...

I am urging him that he needs to come forward. If he does not believe that waterboarding is illegal, then that would really put doubts in my own mind because I don't think you have to be very--have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates Geneva Convention Common Article III, the war crimes statute, and many other statutes that are in place.
Also appearing on the program was Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) [official website], not a member of the committee currently considering Mukasey's nomination, who said that Mukasey's testimony sent a mixed message:
there's been too many mixed messages out of this administration about torture. There's been too many activities at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib which constitute torture, which constitute inhumane treatment in violation of law. This has worked very heavily against us in terms of the enemies'--our enemies'--the terrorists' use of these tactics. He is sending a mixed message in his testimony. He should not be confirmed unless he is very, very clear about these aggressive techniques which violate our laws, and violate Geneva as being totally unacceptable because the attorney general is supposed to be at the head of the Department of Justice talking about what our values are, because those values are the things that have made this country strong and powerful and attractive, and they're essential that they be maintained for our own security.
Mukasey has thus far refused to directly comment on the legality of the practice.

Despite initial comments by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that Mukasey was likely to be confirmed without undue delay, his refusal [JURIST reports] to take a definitive stance on whether or not waterboarding constitutes torture has raised concerns [JURIST report] among Leahy and other committee members. Mukasey did not address the waterboarding issue in a letter [PDF text; JURIST report] to the committee released Friday, although he did note generally that torture was prohibited by the laws of the United States as well as the Constitution. Ten of the committee's 19 members, including Graham, must vote in favor of Mukasey in order to send Mukasey's nomination to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation. AP has more.

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