HOLDER: If you look at the history of the use of that technique, used by the Khmer Rouge, used in the Inquisition, used by the Japanese and prosecuted by us as war crimes. We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture.
Just for the sake of contrast, lets look at how Holder's predecessor answered that same question.
During confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) asked whether Mukasey agreed with the US government’s top military lawyers, who have stated that interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding" (mock drowning), the use of dogs, painful stress positions, and mock executions all violate the humane treatment requirements of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Mukasey replied that the military lawyers’ opinions, while relevant for conflicts "in the past," carry less weight when dealing with "unlawful combatants" today. He then went on to suggest that the humane treatment standards of Common Article 3 do not apply to interrogations of "unlawful combatants."
Hopeless Tool says What?
And what about the "rule of law" and complying with the lawful persuit of truth? For Mukasey - not so much.
Today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey "rejected referring the House’s contempt citations against two of President Bush’s top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey says they committed no crime." Mukasey claimed that White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers "were right" to ignore Congress’s subpoenas in the U.S. attorney scandal.
Yeah, because it makes perfect sense for the President to claim executive priveledge on a matter he supposed had nothing to do with in the first place. yeah, Right.
But now with our first real look at new AG Nominee Eric Holder - we have our first glimps that the days of General Road Block may finally be gone.
Not that this is something that that the wingers are going to fully understand.
Even after Holder's unequivocal rejection of torture techniques such as waterboarding and the concept of "Commander-in-Chief" authority to override the law, the constitution and our existing treaties - One Senator just didn't quite understand, the concept of "No, Mean, NO!" seemed lost on him. Now, who could that have been?
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) could not fathom that an Attorney General would reject a practice that both is unlawful and endangers Americans. He tried to get Holder to back off his anti-torture stance by presenting an absurd “ticking time bomb” hypothetical in which thousands of American lives are at stake. “You would still refuse to condone aggressive interrogation techniques?” Cornyn asked. When Holder replied that waterboarding is not the only interrogation method, Cornyn insisted, “Assume that it was”:
HOLDER: I think your hypothetical assumes a premise that I’m not willing to concede.
CORNYN: I know you don’t like my hypothetical.
HOLDER: No, the hypothetical’s fine; the premise that underlies it I’m not willing to accept, and that is that waterboarding is the only way that I could get that information from those people.
CORNYN: Assume that it was.
HOLDER: [Laughs] Given the knowledge that I have about other techniques and what I’ve heard from retired admirals and generals and FBI agents, there are other ways in a timely fashion that you can get information out of people that is accurate and will produce useable intelligence. And so it’s hard for me to accept or to answer your hypothetical without accepting your premise. And in fact, I don’t think I can do that.
A few minutes later, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) identified where Cornyn most likely thought up his torture-is-the-only-option scenario: “I understand Senator Cornyn’s questions. They are questions that anyone who watches Jack Bauer on ‘24′ would ask.”
At long last Jack Bauer's Evil Uncle Ernie is no longer going to be running our Justice Department. It's about freaking time.