In a column on the suddenly troubled nomination of Judge Mukasey to be our next attorney general, Mona Charen uses the right word: showboating. Mukasey has good reasons for not answering the question as to whether waterboarding:

“What does the law say about waterboarding? As [Andrew] McCarthy points out, Congress had the opportunity in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and again in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to specifically forbid the practice but chose not to do so. McCarthy writes: ‘It is ironic . . . that the same elected officials now demanding a definitive answer from Judge Mukasey have failed to give us one themselves . . .”

“By showboating their opposition to this technique, the senators are placing Mukasey in an impossible position. If he declares that the practice is torture then he may be putting the interrogators who used it (on advice from the Justice Department) in legal jeopardy. And in light of the confused and vague nature of the law, Mukasey would need access to classified information about exactly what was done in order to reach a judgment on its legality. It would be irresponsible of him to opine on the matter based only on rumors in the newspapers of what may have been done to specific detainees.”