Attorney General Nominee Implored to Clarify Waterboarding Position

A Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday he might consider opposing Michael Mukasey's nomination for attorney general if the former judge says waterboarding is not torture.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined two top Senate Democrats in urging Mukasey to disclose his views. Mukasey so far has refused to say explicitly what his position is on the lawfulness of the interrogation technique, which simulates drowning.

"I am urging him that he needs to come forward. If he does not believe that waterboarding is illegal, then that would really put doubts in my own mind because I don't think you have to have a lot of knowledge about the law to understand this technique violates" the Geneva Convention and other statutes, Graham said.

He was responding to a question in a broadcast interview about whether he would vote against Mukasey should he fail to reveal his views.

"I think it would serve the attorney general nominee well to embrace that concept. He's talked around it," Graham added.

Last week, the committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, another committee member, said their votes would hinge on whether Mukasey states his answer on the record.

Leahy has refused to set a date for a vote on Mukasey's nomination until he clarifies his answer to that question.

Also Sunday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the waterboarding issue was an important one as he decides whether to support Mukasey's nomination.

"Anyone who says they don't know if waterboarding is torture or not has no experience in the conduct of warfare and national security," said McCain, a 2008 presidential candidate and a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"It isn't about an interrogation technique," he added. "It isn't about whether someone is really harmed or not. It's about what kind of a nation we are. We are a nation that takes the moral high ground."

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would oppose Mukasey because of the nominee's legal views.

"Mr. Mukasey's position that the president does not have to heed the law disqualifies him from being the chief attorney for the United States," Dodd said in a statement.

Graham appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation," McCain was on ABC's "This Week" and Dodd was on "Meet the Press" on NBC.