A religious anti-torture coalition that includes Jewish groups blasted Michael Mukasey for his congressional testimony. In Senate testimony Wednesday, the U.S. attorney general — an Orthodox Jew — was asked about waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning and that has been defined as torture according to international standards. Though former U.S. officials have confirmed that the technique has been used in recent years, Mukasey would not. He did say the decision to use certain techniques was the result of a balance — “the heinousness of doing it, the cruelty of doing it, balanced against the value” of the information. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture said that position is “wrong spiritually, morally and legally.”
“Under our Constitution, U.S. federal law and international law, torture is a crime regardless of the circumstances,” the group said. “In fact, under international law there are three acts that are prohibited without exception, and they are slavery, genocide and torture. With his testimony, the attorney general has shamed both himself and America.” A number of Jewish groups, most prominently the Reform movement, are members of the coalition.