Running out of words.
After refusing to admit that waterboarding is torture, Attorney General Mukasey now says he won’t bother to investigate whether the waterboarding inflicted by U.S. personnel–now admitted by the White House–was illegal. (He also won’t investigate warrantless wiretapping.) Why? Because the Justice Dept. said it was OK at the time. Never mind that it is already illegal. Transcript:
CONYERS: Well, are you ready to start a criminal investigation into whether this confirmed use of waterboarding by United States agents was illegal?
MUKASEY: That’s a direct question, and I will give a direct answer.
No, I am not, for this reason: Whatever was done as part of a CIA program at the time that it was done was the subject of a Department of Justice opinion through the Office of Legal Counsel and was found to be permissible under the law as it existed then.
For me to use the occasion of the disclosure that that technique was once part of the CIA program — an authorized part of the CIA program, would be for me to tell anybody who relied, justifiably, on a Justice Department opinion that not only may they no longer rely on that Justice Department opinion, but that they
will now be subject to criminal investigation for having done so.
That would put in question not only that opinion, but also any other opinion from the Justice Department. Essentially, it would tell people: “You rely on a Justice Department opinion as part of a program, then you will be subject to criminal investigation when, as and if the tenure of the person who wrote the position changes or, indeed, the political winds change.” And that’s not something that I think would be appropriate and it’s not something I will do.