My Letter to Senator Feinstein

The New York Times reports tonight that Senator Feinstein intends to support (along with Chuck Schumer) the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General. This is the man who, in testimony this week, said he was unsure if waterboarding was torture, or not.

Both senators defend their vote saying, effectively: "I’m troubled he doesn’t oppose waterboarding, but he’s the best we can do."

Note that they do not say: "I’m troubled he’s supports torture, but he’s the best we can do."

If the Democratic party wonders why its base is unhappy, and why people generally feel they are not that much more principled than their Republican counterparts, they need only look at this vote. Goddammit, refuse to approve any candidate that condones our use of torture. Period. Otherwise, what the hell kind of country have we become?

Here’s my letter to my Senator, Diane Feinstein. Write yours.

Dear Senator Feinstein-
I am writing to tell you I am extremely troubled by the news tonight that you plan to support the Mukasey nomation for Attorney General.

This is a time where we need to decide whether we are for torture, or against it. Period.

By voting for Mr. Mukasey — who cannot give the Judiciary committee a straight answer about whether waterboarding constitutes torture — it seems to me that you side with those that condone this method of interrogation. As my 11 year old 6th grader commented tonight: "If he (Mukasey) is confused whether this is torture, we should try waterboarding on him and see what he thinks then."

I fully understand that politics is often about the art of compromise, and choosing among the least bad options. But there are also times when you need to stand on principle. This is one of those times. Do you not believe in the Geneva Conventions?

I only hope that you know something we in the public do not — that there is some side deal, where you have been privately assured by Mr. Mukasey that he will in fact make clear that waterboarding is illegal and unconstitutional. If so, I understand your vote.

If you don’t have such assurances, I think it’s pretty despicable, really.

Mark Hall