Mukasey Calls Waterboarding 'Repugnant'

The nominee for U.S. attorney general stopped short of saying whether waterboarding is torture.

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Hey, everyone. So after sidestepping a question about torture during his Senate confirmation hearing, U.S. Attorney General-nominee Michael Mukasey is trying to clear up the record. During his testimony earlier this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mukasey was asked if he believed that waterboarding, an interrogation technique used by the CIA, amounts to torture. This was his answer.

Mr. MICHAEL MUKASEY (U.S. Attorney General Nominee): I don't know what's involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.

MARTIN: Democrats called it a massive hedge, and the whole issue has called Mukasey's nomination into question. Yesterday, Mukasey wrote a letter to Senate Democrats saying he considers waterboarding repugnant, but he stopped short of declaring whether or not waterboarding is considered torture under U.S. law.

Senate Judiciary chair Patrick Leahy wasn't satisfied. He said he'll continue to delay any vote on Mukasey until the retired judge answers more questions from lawmakers.

And less than an hour before it was scheduled to happen, the U.S. Supreme Court halted a state execution in Mississippi. Convicted killer Earl Wesley Berry was supposed to die of lethal injection yesterday, but hours before, the court granted him a stay. It's the third death penalty reprieve granted by the justices since they agreed last month to decide a case in Kentucky challenging that state's lethal injection procedures. Judicial experts say this most recent decision indicates the court will block all executions until the Kentucky case is decided next spring.

And the country's two top car-sharing companies are merging in hopes of getting more Americans to rent cars by the hour. Flexcar, based in Seattle and controlled by America Online founder Steve Case, will merge with the larger Zipcar, based in Boston. Both companies have weathered losses, and the merger is meant boost profitably within the year.

Zipcar and Flexcar were both founded in 1999, trying to appeal to college students and environmentally concerned urban dwellers. The companies rent cars by the hour, plus an annual membership fee, and it spurred some competition. Thrifty Car Rental announced this week it's opening two hourly rental locations in Manhattan.

Finally today, first he lost his pants, then he lost his lawsuit, now he's lost his job. Roy L. Pearson, Jr., the judge who lost his $54-million lawsuit against the Washington, D.C. dry cleaner, was ordered to vacate his office yesterday.

Pearson had served as a judge for two years and was up for a 10-year term at the Office of Administrative Hearing. But a judicial committee voted against reappointing him. Reports say Pearson was criticized for inappropriate judgment and judicial temperament. Pearson lost a lawsuit against Custom Cleaners in D.C., alleging that the shop lost a pair of his pants that he brought in for a $10 alteration.

That's the news, and it's always online at npr.org.

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MARTIN: Luke and Alison, back to you.

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