During a visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey irked certain senators by wiggling out of directly stating whether or not he believes that waterboarding is a form of torture, an expected but apparently exasperating dodge in the estimation of Sens. Edward Kennedy and Patrick Leahy, among others.

The New York Times:

As expected, Mr. Mukasey refused to be pinned down on whether waterboarding, which creates a drowning sensation, constitutes torture when it is used in the interrogation of suspected terrorists. He said that it would be improper for him to give an opinion, since he is the attorney general, and that his opinion is not really necessary in any event, since the Central Intelligence Agency no longer uses the technique.

“Given that waterboarding is not part of the current program and may never be added to the current program, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to pass definitive judgment on the technique’s legality,” the attorney general said, speaking in the cautious way that his Senate questioners have sometimes found evasive and infuriating.

The anger of some committee members was further stoked on Tuesday evening, when in a letter to the panel Mr. Mukasey said that waterboarding was not clearly illegal and that perhaps it could be used again against terrorism suspects if requested by the White House.

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