President Bush says that, "[i]n a time of war, it's vital for the president to have a full national security team in place... A vital part of that is the attorney general."
This statement came in response to the fact that Democrats are holding up the nomitation of retired federal Judge Michael Mukasey for Attorney General. And they are absolutely right to do so. We've had too much toleration of torture by this adminstration. We've taken the body blows done to American prestige by former AG Alberto Gonzales, with his 'torture memo' and tortured logic when it comes to the treatment of those detained by the US in the 'war on terror.'
When testifying before Congress in his confirmation hearings, Mukasey was unwilling to address the question of whether waterboarding is torture and thus illegal in a forthright manner. Someone as evasive as he was should not become the chief law enforcement officer of our nation.
Remember the outrage by Republicans over the "that depends on what the meaning of 'is' is," by President Clinton. That outrage was fair. Clinton parsed his words in ways that at times during the whole Lewinsky affair strained any credible use of the English language and did, in fact, amount to purjury. It was wrong.
Isn't evasiveness on the issue of torture equally wrong- perhaps even more so than evasiveness about private, consensual sexual matters?
It is time for American to begin moving forward towards a more moral foreign policy, one more consistent with what Americans would prefer to believe about themselves, rather than to continue to have a foreign policy that represents what has been America at its worst- about vengence rather than justice.
Mukasey should either answer the important questions clearly, honestly, and concretely, or America should do without an Attorney General until we have a President willing to appoint a person of integrity and dignity.
And, as we move towards the election of 2008, Americans should take care to make certain they put into office someone who is willing to appoint such a person, as our current President is not.