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Friday, June 14, 2024

Dems failing to contest Bush's policies, nominee

Is waterboarding a form of torture? It's a yes or no question Mr. Mukasey. Here, I'll even give you the definition: Waterboarding is an interrogation technique that consists of immobilizing an individual and pouring water over his or her face to simulate drowning. Still no answer? 


The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-8 Tuesday to recommend Michael Mukasey as the next Attorney General. Although Mukasey could be a good attorney general who, unlike Roberto Gonzales, actually follows the law, his refusal to call waterboarding torture is disturbing. 


Refusing to say so publicly, Mukasey later admitted privately that he personally finds waterboarding repugnant,"" ""but hypotheticals are different from real life, and in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical."" 


Well, let's check out the legal definition of torture then. Under Section 1003, part (a) of the Detainee Treatment Act, no individual ""shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment."" So, Mr. Mukasey, I'll ask again: Is it your legal opinion, judging by the circumstances of waterboarding, that this interrogation technique is cruel, inhuman or degrading? Crickets. 


The American people sure believe it is, with 69 percent calling waterboarding torture in a recent CNN poll. All Mukasey could muster was a statement saying if Congress passed a law banning waterboarding that President Bush would have no legal authority to ignore it, which apparently was enough to convince two Democrats on the committee to vote for him. But if waterboarding is a form of torture, then it shows Bush has already broken the law, hence the question. 


In addition, there's something even more telling about this situation - Democrats continue to lie down to President Bush.  

This fight would have been easy. The nominee for attorney general refuses to call something that is clearly torture what it really is, Bush claims Democrats are obstructionist, Democrats point out why they voted against Mukasey, and the public sides with the Democrats because they're finally doing what they were elected to do last November: Stop Bush. 

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Isn't that really what November 2006 was all about? Democrats picked up more than 30 seats in the House and took control of the Senate all because of Iraq and the violation of our civil liberties.  

Now, one year later, the war is still raging (with more soldiers there now than a year ago), our civil liberties are still in danger and the public is still outraged.  


Many Democratic critics point to Congress' low approval ratings, which are lower than Bush's in some polls, as evidence that the country regrets electing them in 2006 and actually support the president. According to a Reuters/Zogby poll from last month, only a dismal 11 percent of respondents give Congress a positive rating, compared to 24 percent for Bush. Other polls show numbers in the mid-20s. 


However, considering congressional Democratic approval ratings are still higher than those for Republicans, these numbers do not mean the country is leaning right. Instead, they show the American people are still angry with Republicans and are now angry with Democrats, or at least the select few who refuse to stand up to the president, for failing to live up to their campaign promises. And they have a right to be. 


The only surefire way to end the Iraq War was to defund it, but Democrats caved and gave Bush exactly what he wanted, which amounted to an additional $150 billion. They caved on warrantless wiretapping, they caved on Iran, they're close to caving on children's health care and now they have caved on Mukasey.  


But Republican obstructionism also played a hand in all of this. Even though a vote in the Senate needs just 51 votes to pass, the GOP has turned that into 60 votes by threatening to filibuster anything they disagree with. If the Democrats were smart, they'd actually force the GOP to carry out these filibusters, which would paint them as the obstructionists they really are.  


Instead, the Mukasey confirmation is just the latest example of Democrats rolling over to the not-so-almighty Bush, setting up the possibility for another round of ""I don't recalls"" if anything else were to go wrong. Are any Democrats out there listening? Crickets... sigh. 


Erik Opsal is a senior majoring in journalism and political science. Please send responses to

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