We just had to relate this exchange between Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) over the legality of waterboarding. Kennedy, after briefly congratulating Mukasey for launching a criminal inquiry into the CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes, dove right in.
Kennedy said Mukasey's equivocation on the issue of waterboarding (in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Mukasey, again, refused to take a position) was "like saying you're opposed to stealing but not quite sure whether bank robbery would qualify."
"Would wateboarding be torture if it was done to you?" Kennedy asked.
"I would feel that it was," Mukasey answered. He paused before continuing. "You say waterboarding is obviously torture," Mukasey said. The attorney general then disputed the bank-robbery analogy, saying that many intelligent people have taken opposite sides in the debate over the method's legality.
"I should not go into…the detailed way in which the department would apply general knowledge to a specific situation," Mukasey told him.
"Under what facts and circumstances would it be lawful to waterboard a prisoner?" Kennedy tried again.
Mukasey declined to take up hypotheticals: "I would be imagining facts and circumstances that are not present...Those eventualities may never occur."
"Are there any interrogation techniques that you would find to be illegal—fundamentally illegal," Kennedy asked.
There are specifically barred techniques, Mukasey said. "We may not maim. We may not rape..."
"But waterboarding is not on that list," Kennedy cut in.
"It is not."