Pamela’s already noted that John Kerry is opposing him. Now it’s time for the principled stance everyone has been babbling about for other Democrats to take in the year since they regained power and torpedo the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey for AG. Now.
“In a letter to the 10 Democrats on the committee, Mr. Mukasey refused to say whether he considered waterboarding (a method of extracting information by making a prisoner believe he is about to be drowned) to be torture. He said he found it “repugnant,” but could not say whether it is illegal until he has been briefed on the interrogation programs that Mr. Bush authorized at Central Intelligence Agency prisons. This is a crass dodge.”
It’s more than that. Today his Republican toadies in the Senate, including President Doofus himself, are saying that he can’t answer the question because if he responds in the affirmative, he would create a “potential legal quagmire for the Bush administration: criminal prosecution or lawsuits against Central Intelligence Agency officers who used the harsh interrogation practice and those who authorized it.”
Said Bush, “He doesn’t know whether we use that technique or not. Further, it doesn’t make any sense to tell an enemy what we’re doing.”
Way to go. By saying “he doesn’t know whether we use it or not” Bush just confirmed to our “enemies” that we do waterboard; for if we didn’t, he would never have qualified it as such.
A better “defense” (if there is one) comes from Arlen Specter who said, “The facts are that an expression of an opinion by Judge Mukasey prior to becoming attorney general would put a lot of people at risk for what has happened.”
Nonsense. An “expression of an opinion”? He isn’t the AG, nor would he have been sworn in when he offered an opinion as such. The man is simply being asked whether Waterboarding is a form of torture, not creating Justice Department policy as such.
But let’s say for a moment that this is true:
“Scott L. Silliman, an expert on national security law at Duke University School of Law, said any statement by Mr. Mukasey that waterboarding was illegal torture “would open up Pandora’s box,” even in the United States. Such a statement from an attorney general would override existing Justice Department legal opinions and create intense pressure from human rights groups to open a criminal investigation of interrogation practices, Mr. Silliman said.
“You would ask not just who carried it out, but who specifically approved it,” said Mr. Silliman, director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke. “Theoretically, it could go all the way up to the president of the United States; that’s why he’ll never say it’s torture,” Mr. Silliman said of Mr. Mukasey.
Quite simply, there is your reason to kill the nomination. As the Times editorial notes, “The only information Mr. Mukasey can possibly be lacking is whether Mr. Bush broke the law by authorizing the C.I.A. to use waterboarding — a judgment that the White House clearly does not want him to render in public because it could expose a host of officials to criminal accountability.”
So he’s not answering in order to either A. keep toeing the administration line regarding Waterboarding’s ongoing use, or B. he’s already protecting the president from criminal prosecution for Bush’s criminal conduct, a role that is specifically not the Attorney General’s.
The role of the AG is to enforce the laws of the United States on everyone subject to its jurisdiction, including the President of the United States. Voting for Mukasey is voting for putting the president above the law.
And no one is above the law in this country, not even Doofus and his “unitary executive” harem who think they can make laws disappear with signing statements in “times of war”.
Cross posted from AoF