U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday that she would vote against Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey if he refuses to unequivocally say waterboarding amounts to torture.
Waterboarding, among others, is a tactic that U.S. Justice Department has reportedly authorized to use in interrogating terrorist suspects. But President George W. Bush denied the charge, saying "this government does not torture... we stick to U.S. law and our international obligations."
Some Democratic presidential candidates including Clinton argued that Mukasey's silence on the issue revealed his unwillingness to stand up to the Bush administration.
Clinton said in a statement that Mukasey has not clarified his opposition to the interrogation tactics, "his failure to do so leaves me no choice but to oppose his nomination."
Clinton was not alone in declaring opposition to Mukasey as the next Attorney General. Her major rival, Senator Barack Obama, earlier said he would thumb down his nomination.
"We don't need another attorney general who believes that the president enjoys an unwritten right to secretly ignore any law or abridge our constitutional freedoms simply by invoking national security. And we don't need another attorney general who looks the other way on issues as profound as torture," he said.
Several Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Joe Biden and Senator Chris Dodd, all made public their opposition to Mukasey's nomination.
Mukasey is set to address the interrogation tactics issue to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to submit the nomination to the full floor.
The 66-year-old judge, the former chief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was described by Republicans as a conservative on counterterrorism issues, such as electronic surveillance. He has a solid reputation and trust of Bush and his aids.
According to a Washington Post report last month, Mukasey was expected to be more easily greenlighted in Congress since Senate Democrats have signaled before his nomination on Sept. 17 that they were likely to accept Mukasey without a big fight.