WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday announced he will vote against the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be U.S. attorney general because Mukasey has not said waterboarding is illegal.
Waterboarding is an interrogation technique that makes prisoners feel as if they are drowning.
"We have executed people for waterboarding Americans," Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said.
"For the nominee for attorney general to be so evasive in his answer as to whether waterboarding is torture is someone who does not understand history," Reid told reporters.
Reid cited an article Sunday in the Washington Post by former Las Vegas attorney Evan Wallach, who is a judge at the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York City.
"We know that U.S. military tribunals and U.S. judges have examined certain types of water-based interrogation and found that they constitute torture," Wallach wrote.
Wallach was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. Court of International Trade in 1995 after being recommended by Reid.
Also, Reid said, he will vote against Mukasey because President Bush has done everything he can during his seven years in office to "steal power away from the legislative branch of government and to gather that power and keep it in the executive branch of government."
Reid has opposed all three of Bush’s nominees for attorney general.
He voted against John Ashcroft in 2001 and said the former Missouri senator was biased against women and minorities.
Reid voted against Alberto Gonzales in 2005 and said the policy he crafted as White House counsel led to the torture of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who voted for Ashcroft and Gonzales, also plans to support Mukasey, Ensign spokesman Tory Mazzola said.