Chuck Schumer: Vote No On Torture (and No To Mukasey)

There’s an important vote — and not just for symbolic reasons — facing the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Nominee Michael Mukasey refuses to take a firm stand against torture as an interrogation technique, and this is all the reason we need to refuse his application to serve the United States of America as Attorney General.

The question of torture as an interrogation technique is not a simple one — in fact, many smart people take a variety of stands on the issue. I will not preach about it (not today, anyway) but I will say that I consider it a basic principle of my beliefs that it is wrong, and that it is beneath the greatness of the United States of America. No, I can’t absolutely guarantee that some CIA or Army or Blackwater operative’s failure to torture a suspect won’t result in a “smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud”. But I have thought hard about this, and I believe we are correct to take this risk. We will seek safety with better methods. A much greater risk than the “missed secret”, I think, is the risk that the acceptance of torture as an interrogation technique by the United States of America will be used as a powerful enabler by those who do not respect the rule of law either within our borders or outside them. This is why our presidential administration’s equivocation about the practice of torture is so deeply offensive; it stokes in many decent Americans a fear of a fascist future in our own country.

According to news reports of the nomination proceedings, Senator Chuck Schumer will play a decisive role in the Judiciary Committee vote next week, and has not yet indicated which way he will vote. Because I live in New York, Chuck Schumer is my Senator, so I will use this public platform to appeal to my elected official. Senator Schumer, please vote no on Michael Mukasey’s nomination unless he makes it clear that he will take a strong stand against the acceptance of torture as Attorney General.

7 Responses to “Chuck Schumer: Vote No On Torture (and No To Mukasey)”

  1. Caryn Says:

    Did you vote for this guy?

    hahah ahem.

  2. brooklyn Says:

    I did!

    But he has now announced that he is not going to demand a clearer statement on torture from Mukasey, so we’ll have to see if I vote for him again. I probably will (his record on most national and international issues is excellent in general), but we’ll have to see.

  3. The New York Crank Says:

    I voted for Schumer. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I vote for him again. And until Schumer and Feinstein pulled this stunt, I would have sooner died that knock a Democrat while George Bush is in the White House.\

    But no more.

    One of the things that all of us can do – and that I have done – is to blog long and furiously about this. I have just done so. If you’ve got a blog, I hope you will too.

    Crankily yours,
    The New York Crank

  4. Lit News & Opinion Says:

    Torture, like stealing land from Indians and Mexicans, is beneath the greatness of the United States. As is slavery, child labor in sweatshops, union busting, imperialism, the Ku Klux Klan, genocide, Reaganomics, fixing elections, assassinating foreign heads of state, the Vietnam War, Monica Lewinsky, The Birth of a Nation, McCarthyism, segregation, the military-industrial complex, reservations, Watergate, destroying the environment, Enron, the Spanish-American War, discrimination, corporate welfare, dead Kennedy’s, health care costs, lobbyists, ghettos, high school drop-outs, the Iraq War, police torture of suspects to get a confession.

    The greatness of the United States is measured by…pipe dreams and propaganda.

  5. Jim Says:

    Well, Chuck Schumer voted “yes” on Mukasey. But he still could vote “no” on the use of waterboarding, under any circumstances. Then Mukasey appointment would have no consequence on this issue, since Congress would have done its job and actually written a clear law and Mukasey would not placed in the position of interpreting vague statutes. In fact, someone like, say, Senator Dodd — brave, brave Senator Dodd — could actually draft legislation explicitly prohibiting the CIA (or any American organization) from waterboarding anybody.

  6. Bill Ectric Says:

    I am appalled that Americans even have to ask such a question, or that someone can say that “waterboarding” is not torture. It is.

  7. Jim Says:

    In that case, passing the law should be pretty easy — it should sail through Congress. After all, the Army Field Manual explicitly prohibits its U.S. military personnel from using it. (That’s a fairly recent addition.) It should be easy enough for Congress to exercise their oversight function and prevent the CIA from doing the same. This is Congress’s job.

    Everyone knows murder is wrong, too, but we still codify that in criminal statutes.

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