You would think that refusing to call waterboarding torture would disqualify someone from becoming the highest law official in the United States, but Michael Mukasey was sworn in as Attorney General this week. Instead of being sworn in with a stack of bibles, he took the oath over a stack of naked Iraqi prisoners.
And our Senator from New York Chuck Schumer happily joined every Republican and several Democrats by voting to confirm Mukasey. Schumer basically said that other than being in favor of torture, he was perfect for the job. He thinks waterboarding's OK, but other than that... That's like saying, "The waiter never brought our food but other than that..." "The taxi never took us anywhere, but other than that..." Senator Feinstein defended Mukasey by saying, "He's a judge, he wants to get all the facts." Mukasey doesn't want all the facts, he just wants to keep half the Bush Administration out of jail. And how could John McCain, a man who was tortured as a POW, support a man who won't condemn torture? I guess, as a Presidential candidate, McCain doesn't want to offend the Pro-Torture lobby in the US.
The previous pro-torture Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said during his confirmation hearing, that even if the US sometimes tortures people, "at least we don't behead them." That's quite a lofty standard to hold yourself up against. And another blast from the past, Donald Rumsfeld, during the Abu Graib scandal, said "I heard about the torture in January, I didn't realize how bad it was until I saw the pictures. Why did he have to wait for the pictures? Doesn't "torture" tell you enough? Apparently Rumsfeld thought, "Maybe it's the nice kind of torture, maybe it's the tickling torture".
And Mukasey is an observant Orthodox Jew. I wish he would also observe that torture is illegal and immoral. In fact, I think God would be happy if Mukasey traded in one of his ritual observances in exchange for condeming torture. How about it's OK to drive on the Sabbath, but not to hold someone's head under water so they think they're drowning? That's a good tradeoff.
As a proud Reform Jew who doesn't keep Kosher, and if he ever drove, would drive on the Sabbath, I despise torture, war, lying, deceiving, and treating human beings in an inhumane way. And after two weeks traveling in Eastern Europe, where millions were brutally tortured and killed, it would have been nice to return home to a country incapable of torture, and incapable of invading and ravaging another country. But my ticket was to the US, not Iceland.