A gem from yesterday’s testimony of Michael Mukasey before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
Senator Edward Kennedy: Would waterboarding be torture if it were done to you?
Attorney General Michael Mukasey: I would feel that it was.
Mukasey went on to explain that although he’d feel it was torture if it was done to him, waterboarding isn’t necessarily torture in general.
This is classic Bush administration morality: heavens, if it’s done to me, it’s wrong, but it’s all right for other people. This is an extention of the morality that made it OK for the Bushes to spy on the most intimate details of your life while you couldn’t get the simplest details of your own government’s activities.
It also shows a willful obfuscation of the law on torture, in which torture is defined by the effect on the subject: pain, fear of pain, and the threat of imminent death. If the procedure creates pain, fear of pain, or the threat of imminent death for Attorney General Michael Mukasey, then it’s torture under federal law. If the procedure creates pain, fear of pain, or the threat of imminent death for any other detainee, then it’s torture under federal law. The law recognizes no distinction according to the privileged status of the subject of waterboarding. Only Michael Mukasey does. That makes him a dangerous Attorney General.