Michael Goodwin at nydailynews.com [excerpts]
Though late last week, key Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein announced their support for Mukasey, his confirmation is still uncertain — because he won't say clearly that waterboarding is both torture and illegal under American and international law.What’s more, Mukasey has said repeatedly and unequivocally he opposes torture. His supporters point out the Senate last year refused to classify waterboarding as torture.
He should stick to his guns because his reasons are sound — he doesn't know exactly what techniques the classified interrogation programs use, and there may be legal jeopardy questions involved.
Back to Goodwin:
But there's an even better reason he shouldn't give the answer much of the Senate wants. The demand is nonsense of the highest order; one that can only undermine the national effort in a time of war.[…]We hear a lot of talk about American “barbarism” from al-Qaeda and its admitted allies. We expect that.
The seriousness of the attack on Mukasey reveals an utter lack of seriousness about the reality of the war.
And it comes from the same place as the earlier attempts to set arbitrary deadlines for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and to de-fund the military. All are borne out of a childlike frustration at the inability to muster the votes to get Bush to change course.
But with the surge working, levels of violence in Baghdad falling and our casualties declining, a new Democratic punching bag had to be found.
With Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales gone, it's Mukasey's turn. And so we have the threats to scuttle a perfectly fine candidate to replace Gonzales and put the Justice Department back on track.
Bush met his critics more than halfway by naming someone Schumer suggested. For his efforts, he gets only obstruction. And for his efforts to serve his country in a time of need, Mukasey gets humiliated, his impeccable credentials trashed in another proxy fight over the war. […]
The ultimate issue for America is not whether we should use waterboarding on terror suspects. The issue is whether we should be publicly debating and explaining every jot and title of our interrogation tactics when the results could be the difference between life and death for thousands of Americans.
Osama Bin Laden must be laughing in his cave at us as we try to draw bright red lines in the shifting sands of clandestine operations. His theory that people always gravitate toward the strong horse perfectly fits this foolish fixation. […]
By all means, let's not descend into barbarism or become like the beasts we're fighting. But above all, let's not torture ourselves in ways that undercut our efforts in this life-and-death struggle.
Now most Americans are coming to expect the same kind of talk from many leading Democrats.
Goodwin says such Dems are acting out of "childlike frustration." I'm sure Senator Hillary Clinton, one of those planning to vote against Judge Mukasey, would disagree with the characterization: "childlike."
No doubt she also believes she's the right person to lead out national security efforts.
Goodwin’s entire column is here.