For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has announced its opposition to President Bush's nominee for US Attorney General, Judge Michael Mukasey, due to his failure to affirmatively call the practice of "waterboarding” torture and declare it illegal under US law. PHR strongly praised Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) opposition to the nomination and called on all members of the Senate to vote against President Bush’s nomination of Mukasey.
"Judge Mukasey has had ample opportunity to clarify what US and international law have unanimously said for generations—waterboarding is torture and it has no place in legal and ethical interrogations,” stated Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer of PHR. "His failure to repudiate this abhorrent and illegal tactic, let alone the other techniques known to be used by the CIA, means that PHR must oppose his nomination. Because Mukasey does not know torture when he sees it, and because he has suggested the President is sometimes outside of the rule of law, he has no business serving as our country’s chief law enforcement officer.”
The group also called on Congress to immediately ban tactics, including waterboarding, which are believed to comprise the CIA’s "enhanced” interrogation program. In the joint report from PHR and Human Rights First (HRF), "Leave No Marks: The CIA’s ‘Enhanced’ Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality,” leading legal and medical experts found that the tactics composing the CIA’s interrogation program, including waterboarding, cause lasting mental and physical harm and can constitute war crimes. The report examines ten techniques widely reported to have been authorized for use by the CIA, including sleep deprivation, simulated drowning, stress positions, beating, and induced hypothermia.
"Congress must now act to ensure that there is no ambiguity about whether the interrogation tactics employed by the CIA are illegal under US law,” stated Donaghue. "There should be only one standard of detainee treatment and interrogation for all branches of the US government.”
PHR's Policy on Opposing Presidential Nominations
As a non-partisan organization focused exclusively on the protection of human rights, PHR typically neither supports nor opposes nominees for office but instead demands that they uphold human rights and holds them accountable for their actions. But PHR's mission to advance human rights may require it to oppose the appointment of someone to a position under certain limited circumstances: When the person's record is "so inimical to human rights that there is a strong likelihood that his or her appointment would seriously undermine human rights standards or practice in the United States or abroad."
PHR’s board has voted only twice in the past to oppose a presidential nomination, in the cases of Alberto Gonzalez’s nomination for Attorney General and John Rizzo’s nomination for CIA General Counsel.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.