President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey, declined today to say if he considered harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding, which simulates drowning, to constitute torture or to be illegal if used on terrorism suspects.
On the second day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Mukasey went further than he had the day before in arguing that the White House had constitutional authority to act beyond the limits of laws passed by Congress, especially when it came to questions of national defense.
He suggested that both the Bush administration’s eavesdropping program and its use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects, including waterboarding, may be acceptable under the Constitution even if they go beyond what the law technically allows. Mr. Mukasey said the president’s authority as commander in chief may allow him to supersede laws written by Congress. [complete article]