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The Harvard Anti-Torture Coalition

Archive for October 20th, 2007

Dear Senate: Torture is Non-Negotiable

Posted by stoptorture on 20th October 2007

Do not expect the rule of law to flow from a man who waffles on waterboarding. Waterboarding is torture, and torture is antithetical to justice.

A nominee to be the head of the Justice Department should know that already. And yet, during his job interview, when asked about waterboarding Michael Mukasey claimed he didn’t know what that technique involved. That is either a lie or an early admission of incompetence. Worse still, after having waterboarding described to him, Mr. Mukasey refused to call it torture. That alone is enough to disqualify him for the job of Attorney General.

In fact, the Senate already rejected Steven Bradbury as the nominee to be the head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice for similar reasons. Senator Durbin long ago objected that “Mr. Bradbury refuses to repudiate un-American and inhumane tactics such as waterboarding, mock executions, and physically beating detainees.” In fact, the day before Mr. Mukasey’s hearing, Senators Durbin, Feingold, and Kennedy, formally requested President Bush to withdraw Mr. Bradbury’s nomination, stating, “Mr. Bradbury has refused to answer straightforward questions from Judiciary Committee members regarding torture.” And now, so has Mr. Mukasey refused the same. After his lack of candor before the Senate, Mr. Bradbury was later revealed to be the author of the two new secret torture memos, which the New York Times reported on two weeks ago. Is Mr. Mukasey, a budding torture relativist, heading down the same path?

How did we go as a nation from the insisting on the Trials of Nuremberg to opposing the International Criminal Court, from sponsoring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to writing secret torture memos, from Ambassador Satchmo to Ambassador Bolton?

The President did not do it alone. The Court has been complacent, and the Congress complicit. A single Senator would have been enough to filibuster the Military Commissions Act of 2006, but none came forward. With the anniversary of that widely recognized stain on our legal tradition passing before us, the time for moral leadership is long overdue.

Who will step forward? The world is watching. Our children will learn who stood up and who stood down. No more “hedging.” Act now. Vote no. Stop torture.

Posted in Human Rights, International Law, Torture, U.S. Law | 126 Comments »