[JURIST] White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto attempted Friday to deflect widespread criticism of US Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey's refusal to say whether he considers waterboarding [ABC report] a form of torture during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday [JURIST report]. Mukasey [WH fact sheet; PWBT profile] refused to be pinned down on the issue, merely suggesting that if waterboarding is torture, then torture is unconstitutional. He similarly avoided questions about the legality of other specific interrogation techniques, including forced nudity and mock executions, because he considered such comments to be irresponsible "when there are people who are using coercive techniques and who are being authorized to use coercive techniques." Fratto said:
Judge Mukasey, I think, did the best he could to be responsible in not talking about interrogation techniques which, as you all know, we decline to do...these are very complex problems and they don't lend themselves to shorthand responses.Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said he will not schedule a committee vote to confirm Mukasey until he gets clearer answers. AP has more.