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.