The New York Times has qouted Majority Leader Harry Reid in an extraordinary statement and suggests that Democrats will not fight on the principle of torture — or another civil liberties issue in the last six years. According to the New York Times
On Tuesday, all 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey asking him to make a clear-cut statement of opposition to waterboarding and to describe it as illegal.
On Thursday, the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, was asked by a reporter if Mr. Mukasey should be confirmed in light of his failure to make a statement of opposition to waterboarding.
”We’ll have to wait and see,” Mr. Reid said, adding that he was ”troubled” by Mr. Mukasey’s testimony last week about waterboarding. ”I think if he doesn’t change his direction in that regard, he could have at least one concern. And that’s me.”
To treat a refusal to call water-boarding torture as “one concern” shows how devoid the democratic party has become on principles guiding the use of constitutional powers. Waterboarding — the preferred form of torture used by the CIA — is clearly defined as torture under international law and domestic law. It was further defined for Mukasey in the hearing who appears to have falsely testified that he did not know what the technique involved. Reid’s comment follows a series of caves by the democrats on violations of civil liberties and criminal laws. This will be the last meaningful opportunity to force the issue of torture and the White House knows it. If Mukasey admits the obvious that water boarding is torture, it confirms that the president personally ordered violations of both U.S. and international law. The democrats however have quietly been assisting the White House in avoiding this moment and it appears that they intend to continue that record. If the Democratic leadership cannot be outraged on the issue of torture, there is literally no principle on which they intend to fight. The key will be whether they are willing to filibuster or prevent the vote on the floor — not just vote against the nominee in a guaranteed confirmation.