Two weeks ago, Judge Michael Mukasey was a near shoo-in for the Attorney General’s job. Now, as Arlen Specter puts it, “the confirmation is at risk,” because Mukasey refuses to characterize waterboarding as illegal in all cases. What’s interesting is that no one is pitching a fit about the “waterboarding litmus test.” Amid the furor to assure that the new AG, an Executive Branch official, will be independent of the President, at whose pleasure he is supposed to serve, they want to make him subservient to Congress’ views on the issue, before he’s even sworn in. Of course, there is a legitimate, legal way to assure that he’ll follow Congress will on the matter, without raising substantial separation of powers issues – pass a law outlawing waterboarding. How hard is that?
There’s no doubt that waterboarding is effective – Khalid Sheik Mohammed reportedly lasted two to two-and-a-half minutes before “begging to confess.” Personally, the technique that worries me more is being “forced to listen to rap artist Eminem’s ‘Slim Shady’ album.” Will the real terrorist please stand up, please stand up?
But I’ll make a deal. I volunteer to be waterboarded. I volunteer to be waterboarded for two-and-a-half minutes as long as it’s President Giuliani, Thompson, Huckabee, Hunter, Paul or Romney giving the order.
In other news, foreign service officers are revolting. More revolting than usual. They are actually revolting against the requirement that they actually serve where they are posted, someplace…foreign…like Iraq. I checked out the Iraq State Department jobs website and the minimum pay for these jobs is $66,000 and change plus 35% for hazardous duty and a 35% foreign post differential after minimum 42 days in country (backdated to day 1 once they’ve been there for 42). Plus housing, medical benefits, federal pension, food, “access to a movie theater, a DVD library, a fully equipped gym, and a pool,” “free laundry service (both drop-off and self-service) and dry cleaning; barber shop; beauty shop; full-service cafeteria; small theatre; gym; swimming pool; shuttle bus, facilities maintenance, morale and welfare; and other services. Residents are charged a nominal fee per service for barber/beauty services.” They’re not allowed to own a car in Iraq, but that’s because when they travel they are issued “Full-Armored Vehicles (FAV) with personal security details (PSDs)” (the polite term for those shoot to kill Blackwater “mercs”).
It’s probably safer than working at a donut shop in Philadelphia and as far as the pay and benefits it ranks right up there with picking cabbage for $50 an hour in Arizona (not that Senator McCain ever ponied up with the address of the actual cabbage farm). The foreign service professionals don’t want to serve, don’t want to fulfill their duty. No problem. I volunteer. Come to think of it, if I get the “full-Armored Vehicles with personal security details” and the other perks, I’ll pick cabbage in Iraq for $50 an hour.