That's what Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) said yesterday. from thinkprogress, here's what Smith said to Attorney General Michael Mukasey yesterday:
Think progress adds a link to this CNN story about what the American people really think:
In regard to interrogation techniques — and I know you’re going to be asked a lot of questions about that today — I just want to express the personal opinion that I hope the administration will not be defensive about using some admittedly harsh but nonlethal interrogation techniques, even techniques that might lead someone to believe they’re being drowned even if they’re not.
My guess is that 99 percent of the American people, if asked whether they would endorse such interrogation techniques to be conducted on a known terrorist with the expectation that information that might be derived from such interrogation would save the lives of thousands of Americans, that 99 percent of the American people would support such interrogation techniques.
Huh. So I guess Representative Smith's guess is, well, wrong.
Asked whether they think waterboarding is a form of torture, more than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, said yes; 29 percent said no.
Asked whether they think the U.S. government should be allowed to use the procedure to try to get information from suspected terrorists, 58 percent said no; 40 percent said yes.
On waterboarding, TPM Muckraker has more on yesterday's hearings with AG Mukasey. When asked by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) if he's going start a criminal investigation:
This has led David Kurtz, over at talkingpointsmemo to post:
"No, I am not," was the direct answer.
His reasoning was a repeat of his answer to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) last week. The CIA waterboarded those detainees with the authorization of a Justice Department legal opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel. So the Justice Department "cannot possibly" investigate, he said, U.S. employees for an act they committed on the basis of Justice Department advice. Such an action, he explained, would send a message that interrogators could no longer safely rely on that advice going forward.
Mukasey also refused Conyers' request to see the OLC opinions that authorized waterboarding, because they discussed techniques of what remains a "classified program." Conyers protested that every member of the committee was cleared to see top secret material, but Mukasey was unmoved, though offered to continue "ongoing discussions" with the committee -- discussions of which Conyers seemed to be unaware.
So would I.
Cynics may argue that those aren't bombshells at all, that the Bush Administration would never investigate itself in these matters. Perhaps so. But this is a case where cynicism is itself dangerous.
We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it's not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it's not.
It is as brazen a defense of the unitary executive as anything put forward by the Administration in the last seven years, and it comes from an attorney general who was supposed to be not just a more professional, but a more moderate, version of Alberto Gonzales (Thanks to Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer for caving on the Mukasey nomination.).
President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical.