November 6, 2007


Dragging Out The Torture Debate (Massimo Calabresi, 11/06/07, TIME)

The end is near for the Democrats' sorry handling of Michael Mukasey's nomination to be Attorney General, but that doesn't mean they are ready to close the book on the most recent debate over torture. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote to confirm the New York judge to head the Justice Department Tuesday, sending his nomination to the Senate floor where it is expected to win broad support. That should end another humiliating national security-related defeat for the party, leaving members free to move on to issues where they stand a better chance of outmaneuvering Republicans, such as health care for kids or tax reform.

The Democrats, however, have an uncanny ability to milk humiliation out of national security debates, and behind the scenes the party's top Senate leaders are arguing over whether to pursue the issue of torture while they have the country's attention. Even though the party failed to block Mukasey over his refusal to state definitively that waterboarding is illegal, some Democrats believe they can win a straight vote to criminalize the harsh interrogation technique. Others fear that a renewed fight over torture would end not just in another defeat, but in an implicit Congressional stamp of approval for the very practice they want to outlaw. order to believe that there's a political benefit to identifying yourselves as the party of the terrorists and the GOP as the party of the torturers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 6, 2007 8:43 AM

Among the annoyances of this debate is that, if Congress wants to make clear that waterboarding is illegal -- because of the terrible suffering of three Al Qaeda figures four years ago -- it is perfectly free to do so.

Posted by: Ibid at November 6, 2007 10:03 AM

Their issue isn't torture, it's BDS politics. Let them waste their time.

Posted by: Genecis at November 6, 2007 10:21 AM

This issue has the potential (in the next presidential 'debate') to become a Dukakis moment - as when Bernard Shaw asked him about his wife being raped.

While a journalist is unlikely to ask Hillary whether she would approve waterboarding for a terrorist, a GOP candidate is certainly free to address the issue, hold up a picture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (or Bin al Sheibh) and muse why Hillary voted against Mukasey just because he refused to call their interrogations illegal. And further muse why Hillary (and the Senate Democrats) favor the terrorist over any future victims.

Of course, Bill would be in the spin rooms, whining that Hill is being abused. Because of her sex. And he should know, eh?

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 6, 2007 10:42 PM