During his confirmation hearings last October, Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused to say that waterboarding and other obvious forms of torture and cruel treatment were illegal and should never be used. When he testifies before the Senate judiciary committee today, Senators are likely to ask once again that the Attorney General disavow the so-called “enhanced” techniques that violate U.S. law and treaty obligations. Unfortunately, Mukasey has already said that he simply won’t answer the question.
Despite Mukasey’s unacceptable response to the Senate Judiciary Committee, below are 10 questions on torture the Attorney General must answer.
1) Is waterboarding, or inducing the perception of drowning and creating the fear of imminent death, illegal?
2) If waterboarding is illegal, then any individual who has engaged in or authorized waterboarding has presumably broken the law. Will you investigate the potential criminal liability of individuals who may have engaged in or authorized the use of waterboarding?
3) Have you examined cases in which the United States has successfully prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime?
4) Do you believe that such prosecutions are relevant to evaluating the legality of waterboarding?
5) If you are now able to state that waterboarding is illegal, will you rescind or correct all relevant Department of Justice legal analysis to reflect your conclusion that waterboarding is illegal?
6) Have you completed your review of the legal analysis related to other so-called “enhanced” interrogation practices?
7) Did you find it necessary to rescind or correct any of the existing legal analysis on interrogation?
In August 2006, our nation’s top uniformed military lawyers, the Judge Advocates General of the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, all agreed that waterboarding, the use of dogs, removal of clothing, and stress positions — in which individuals are forced to stand, sit, or kneel in abnormal positions for extended periods of time — was inhumane and illegal. Do you agree with our nation’s top military lawyers?
9) Will John Durham, the prosecutor you appointed to investigate the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes, have the mandate to investigate any illegal conduct — including the use of abusive interrogations such as waterboarding — that was shown on the tapes?
10) Given the widespread distrust of the U.S. government’s record on matters of prisoner treatment, will you make the results of the criminal investigation into the CIA tape destruction available to the public regardless of whether it results in prosecution?