How Michael Mukasey’s squishiness on water-boarding became laudable intellectual independence.

The word independence is tossed around a good bit at this morning’s Senate judiciary committee vote to approve Michael B. Mukasey as the next attorney general. Democrats and Republicans alike laud Mukasey’s independence of mind. But Orin Hatch, R-Utah, manages to go further to claim that Mukasey’s refusal to concede that water-boarding is torture is a hallmark of his independent thinking. In Hatch’s twisted syllogism, Senate Democrats who oppose Mukasey are in fact the ones “politicizing the Justice Department,” by demanding that he adopt “politically correct” positions on the interrogation practice known as water-boarding. Worse, these Democrats are undermining Mukasey’s “independence” by unreasonably demanding that he call it illegal. Democrats, he scolds, cannot “emphasize independence and then demand that Mukasey make only their legal judgments.”

Slate Magazine

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