Sen. Dianne Feinstein did the right thing in announcing that, unlike some of her Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she will support the confirmation of Michael B. Mukasey as U.S. attorney general. We too endorse Mukasey's confirmation, despite his refusal to tell Democrats what they, and we, wanted to hear: that the simulated drowning known as waterboarding is a form of torture.
Even given that dodge, Mukasey would represent a dramatic improvement over former Atty. Gen. (and Bush crony) Alberto R. Gonzales. And this administration is unlikely to produce anyone better. But after the Senate confirms Mukasey, it should do something else. It should approve legislation requiring CIA interrogators to abide by the same standards that govern military interrogators -- standards that prohibit waterboarding. On Friday, Mukasey told Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) that he would enforce such a law.
Mukasey, who once seemed likely to be confirmed by acclamation, has only himself to blame for the hemorrhaging of Democratic support for his appointment. It seems obvious that waterboarding violates the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act's ban on "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of captives. Yet Mukasey wouldn't commit himself in advance to such a determination, citing the fact that he hasn't been briefed about the details of "enhanced" CIA interrogation methods.