The Mukasey test

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

On the nom­i­na­tion of Michael Mukasey to be at­tor­ney gen­eral, Se­nate Democrats are demon­strat­ing once again that they would rather pan­der than do their job. Mr. Mukasey, who has had a long, dis­tin­guished ca­reer as a fed­eral judge and a lawyer in private prac­tice, ac­quit­ted him­self well dur­ing sev­eral days of con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. But a who’s who of anti-war groups and Bush crit­ics — in­clud­ing the Dai­lyKos, the ACLU, Peo­ple For the Amer­i­can Way and Hu­man Rights Watch — made clear be­fore­hand their in­ten­tion to use their hear­ings as a fo­rum to un­der­cut our intelligence agency’s ef­forts to pre­vent the next at­tack on the Amer­i­can home­land. Th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions and their con­gres­sional al­lies are at­tempt­ing to en­trap Mr. Mukasey into rul­ing out an in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­nique called wa­ter­board­ing — which has been in­valu­able in get­ting cap­tured al Qaeda ter­ror­ists to yield in­for­ma­tion about fu­ture at­tacks.

Be­tween 2002 and 2004 three se­nior al Qaeda op­er­a­tives with “real-time in­for­ma­tion” about ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties were sub­ject to wa­ter­board­ing, in which a per­son is bound, dunked into wa­ter and made to be­lieve that he is about to drown. U.S. mil­i­tary forces are sub­ject to the tech­nique dur­ing their train­ing. The three al Qaeda op­er­a­tives were Khalid Sheikh Mo­hammed, who mas­ter­minded the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks and be­headed jour­nal­ist Daniel Pearl; Abu Zubay­dah, who di­rected al Qaeda’s ter­ror­ist train­ing camps; and Ham­bali, the In­done­sian ter­ror­ist be­hind the Oct. 12, 2002, bomb­ings of an In­done­sian night­club in which 202 peo­ple were killed, in­clud­ing at least five Amer­i­cans. Intelligence of­fi­cials told NBC News that Mo­hammed and Ham­bali were cho­sen for wa­ter­board­ing be­cause they were re­sis­tant to other in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques and that Zubay­dah had ini­tially told the CIA about an im­pend­ing at­tack, but sub­se­quently re­fused to dis­cuss it. A fourth ter­ror­ist, Ramzi Bi­nal­shibh — or­ga­nizer of the Ham­burg cell which car­ried out the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks — agreed to talk af­ter be­ing threat­ened with wa­ter­board­ing.

Ge­orge Tenet, who served as CIA di­rec­tor un­der Pres­i­dents Clin­ton and Bush, said that in­ter­ro­ga­tions uti­liz­ing “en­hanced mea­sures” like wa­ter­board­ing pre­vented subse- quent at­tacks in the United States, United King­dom, Mid­dle East, South­east Asia and Cen­tral Asia.

But de­spite this record, Mr. Mukasey has come un­der fire from Sens. Hil­lary Clin­ton, Joe Bi­den and Chris Dodd, who sug­gest that Mr. Mukasey may not be a good choice to be at­tor­ney gen­eral be­cause of his re­fusal to con­demn wa­ter­board­ing as a form of “tor­ture” which vi­o­lates the Detainee Treat­ment Act of 2005. In fact, the statute is silent on this ques­tion. Re­gret­tably, Sens. John McCain and Lind­sey Gra­ham have joined the Demo­cratic cho­rus.

It is ir­re­spon­si­ble to use in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques as a lit­mus test. The suc­cess of wa­ter­board­ing speaks for it­self. More im­por­tantly, so does Michael Mukasey’s fine record.

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