McCain in a letter written with Sen. Warner and Sen Graham makes clear they will not oppose the nomination of Judge Mukasey. They write: “We welcome your acknowledgement in yesterday’s letter that the interrogation technique known as waterboarding is ‘over the line’ and ‘repugnant,’ and we appreciate your recognition that Congress possesses the authority to ban interrogation techniques.These are important statements, and we expect that they will inform your views as Attorney General. We also expect that, in that role, you will not permit the use of such a practice by any agency of the United States Government.You have declined to comment specifically on the legality of waterboarding, deeming it a hypothetical scenario about which it would be imprudent to opine. Should you be confirmed, however, you will soon be required to make determinations regarding the legality of interrogation techniques that are anything but hypothetical.”
After reciting their view that waterboarding is indeed illegal the letter concludes: “We share your revulsion at the use of waterboarding and welcome your commitment to review existing legal memoranda covering interrogations and their consistency with current law. It is vital that you do so, as anyone who engages in this practice, on behalf of any U.S. government agency, puts.himself at risk of criminal prosecution, including under the War Crimes Act, and opens himself to civil liability as well. We must wage and win the war on terror, but doing so is fully compatible with fidelity to our laws and deepest values. Once you are confirmed and fully briefed on the relevant programs and legal analyses, we urge you to publicly make clear that waterboarding can never be employed.”
This seems to have neatly preserved McCain’s position on interrogation techniques while avoiding a political landmine. No word yet on Sen. Specter but with McCain and his co-authors on board the Republicans should all follow suit. Whether the Democrats mount a full scale opposition is yet to be seen.