Eric Holder minced no words when asked about waterboarding in his confirmation hearing today. “Waterboarding is torture,” the AG-designate said, a declaration neither Michael Mukasey nor Alberto Gonzales was willing to make. He said that, even in emergencies, the president couldn’t override the constitution. Republicans also leapt to question Holder about the Marc Rich pardon, which he readily admitted to regrets about.
Arlen Specter, the committee's ranking Republican, said the Rich incident was “hard to brush off” because of Rich’s “reprehensible record.” “I did not acquaint myself with his record,” Holder replied. “That was one of the mistakes I made.” Holder also confirmed that the Guantanamo Bay detention center would be closed, but said it would take longer than many hoped, because certain dangerous inmates couldn’t be tried or repatriated.