Whitehouse is the seventh Senate Democrat, including presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.), Barack Obama (Ill.), Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Joe Biden (Del.), as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), to oppose President Bush's pick to replace former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Biden is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Describing himself as "deeply torn between this man and this moment," Whitehouse said it was imperative that he "push towardthe light" the light because Mukasey has refused to come out against "waterboarding" of terrorism suspects.
Mukasey has said he cannot make that judgement at this time, fearing that if he did so, it could jeopardize any government employees, including intelligence officials, who could be using the technique in questioning terrorism suspects. Mukasey's statements on the issue have spurred Democratic opposition to what was considered an overwhelmingly popular pick, although no one is predicting the nomination will fail, at least not at this time.
"One might argue that this makes Mr. Mukasey an innocent victim in a clash between Congress and the President – that no nominee for Attorney General will be able to satisfy Congress or the American people on the question of torture, because the President, or perhaps the Vice President, will not allow any nominee to draw that bright line at what we all know in our hearts and minds to be abhorrent to our Constitution and our values," Whitehouse said in a floor speech.
"Well that is exactly the point. If we allow the President of the United States to prevent, to forbid, a would-be Attorney General of the United States – the most highly-visible representative of our rule of law – from recognizing that bright line, we will have turned down that dark stairway. I cannot stand for that. I will oppose this nomination."