Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

This Should Kill Mukasey’s Nomination

Posted by MEC on October 31, 2007

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Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey refuses to say that waterboarding is illegal.

Mukasey said that techniques described as waterboarding by lawmakers “seem over the line or, on a personal basis, repugnant to me, and would probably seem the same to many Americans.” But, he continued, “hypotheticals are different from real life, and in any legal opinion the actual facts and circumstances are critical.”

Mukasey also said he is reluctant to offer opinions on interrogation techniques because he does not want to place U.S. officials “in personal legal jeopardy” and is concerned that such remarks might “provide our enemies with a window into the limits or contours of any interrogation program.” His arguments are similar to those advanced by the Bush administration in its refusal to discuss waterboarding or other interrogation techniques.

How do these statements show that Mukasey is NOT QUALIFIED? Let me count the ways:

1. Waterboarding is illegal:

The practice … has been prosecuted as torture in U.S. military courts since the Spanish-American War. The State Department has condemned its use in other countries.

2. Saying that torture is “on a personal basis, repugnant” doesn’t make Mukasey’s response more credible, it makes it less. His duty as Attorney General is to make decisions and implement policies based on the law, not on his personal preferences.

3. The issue of waterboarding is not “hypothetical”. Actual Bush Administration officials authorized its use, using an actual opinion issued by the Justice Department as their justification. That would be the same Justice Department Mukasey thinks he’s going to lead, so it’s important for the Senate and the American people to find out whether he’ll continue Alberto Gonzales’ policy of providing legal camouflage for lawbreaking, or actually do the job he’s supposed to do.

4. If U.S. officials are authorizing, using, or condoning torture, they should be “placed in legal jeopardy”. Mukasey’s duty as Attorney General would be to enforce the law, not to protect members of the Bush Administration.

5. The Attorney General is supposed to have some degree of independence from the Oval Office. Reciting the Bushevik rationalizations for refusing to acknowledge that illegal interrogation techniques are illegal just shows that he lacks the required independence.

6. Giving a weasely answer that evades the question is a clue that his actual opinion is unacceptable, and that the Congress and the American people can expect him to evade his duty as Attorney General the way he’s evading the truth in his confirmation hearing.

The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are making disapproving noises about Mukasey’s evasions. They could use a reminder to do their duty and vote against a nominee who can’t or won’t do the job.

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