Attorney general-designate Michael Mukasey is heading for a confirmation vote before the full Senate following his approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Two key Democrats -- Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein -- tipped the scales in Mukasey's favor when they decided to back Mukasey in the committee vote despite Democrats’ anger over his refusal to take a position on the legality of the controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding.
What the commentators said
What good is having a Democratic majority in Congress, said Derrick Z. Jackson in The Boston Globe, if it won’t even stand up against torture? Mukasey “feigned ignorance” about waterboarding—or simulated drowning—saying he didn’t know whether it qualified as torture. “One would think that by now the Democrats would have developed the spine to stand up to such nonsense nearly seven years into George W. Bush's presidency, which has sunk America's global moral standing."
Democrats have “an uncanny ability to milk humiliation out of national security debates,” said Massimo Calabres in Time.com. Their “sorry handling” of Mukasey’s confirmation—which is virtually assured once he clears the committee vote—played right into the GOP’s hands, proving once again that Republicans win every time when the debate turns to keeping America safe.
Not all Republicans are fans of waterboarding, said The Washington Post in an editorial. Three years ago, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel—Daniel Levin—volunteered to be waterboarded so he could judge for himself whether the method amounted to torture. He concluded that waterboarding “could be illegal unless performed under the strictest supervision and in the most limited of ways.” Needless to say, he was promptly “forced out” of the Bush administration.