U.S. Attorney General Candidate is clueless

October 18, 2007 | By | 3 Replies More

Michael Mukasey doesn’t get it, as explained by Glenn Greenwald:

And when he was asked yesterday explicitly whether he would advise the President that he has the power to “seize U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and detain them indefinitely without charge?,” all he would say in response was: “I certainly can’t say as of now there is clear authority authorizing what I thought there was authority to authorize in Padilla” (a concession he made grudgingly, only after claiming it was an “open” question and only after he made a series of legal arguments as to why the President does have that power).

The very idea that a nominee for U.S. Attorney General is explicitly open to the possibility that the President can indefinitely imprison U.S. citizens on U.S. soil with no charges is unfathomable. That is the most extreme, un-American and tyrannical power that exists. And yet, not only does his answer trigger virtually no mention by our media, it is almost certain that Mukasey will be confirmed overwhelmingly by the Senate without a ripple. That is why there is no higher priority than forcing attention on these issues and supporting and rewarding those rare instances of meaningful action — such as Dodd’s today — in defense of the rule of law and our basic constitutional liberties.

Is Greenwald being too hard on the corporate media?  Consider today’s front page headline of the feckless St. Louis Post Dispatch“Nominee objects to use of torture.” Are they forgetting that disgraced Alberto Gonzales also claimed to be against torture? Readers of the local St. Louis Paper baselessly assuming that Mukasey is actually going to pay attention to the Constitution when there is firm evidence that he doesn’t care about the Constitution.

Addendum:  The NYT reports on the actual testimony regarding one clear form of torture:

“Is waterboarding constitutional?” Mr. Mukasey was asked by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, in one of the sharpest exchanges.

“I don’t know what is involved in the technique,” Mr. Mukasey replied. “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.”

Mr. Whitehouse described Mr. Mukasey’s response as a “massive hedge” since the nominee refused to be drawn into a conversation about whether waterboarding amounted to torture; many lawmakers from both parties, as well as civil liberties and human rights groups, have said it is clearly a form of torture. The administration has suggested that it ended the practice after protests from Capitol Hill and elsewhere, although it has never said so explicitly.

“I mean, either it is or it isn’t,” Mr. Whitehouse continued.

Waterboarding, he said, “is the practice of putting somebody in a reclining position, strapping them down, putting cloth over their faces and pouring water over the cloth to simulate the feeling of drowning. Is that constitutional?”

Mr. Mukasey again demurred, saying, “If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.”

Mr. Whitehouse said he was “very disappointed in that answer; I think it is purely semantic.”


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Category: Law, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Here's how Mukasy's testimony should have been characterized by the MSM: "Bush nominee for Attorney General is pro-torture."

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    I don't like to play the Hitler card, but the Nazis came to power in much the same way Bush's neocon crowd has: by convincing the electorate (a) that a national threat existed, (b) that only the Nazis could protect the citizens from that threat, and (c) that the Nazis needed dictatorial power to fight the threat. The Nazis then came to power through an ostensibly legitimate election, just as Bush did. Then, once in power, they expanded their dictatorial power and used it against their own people, just as the Bush Administration has. They then waged war against other countries to foster domestic nationalism and, thus, further strengthen their power, just as the Bush Administration has. The patterns are disturbingly similar, and the outcomes appear to be similar, too: citizens who genuinely value freedom rejecting the yoke of dictatorship and ousting their oppressors from power. The difference between the Nazis and the Bush Administration is merely a matter of degree, not of type.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    What's it like to view the kind of torture inflicted by the CIA? John Barry of Newsweek comments on what torture does::

    I think I know why Jose Rodriguez, then head of the CIA's clandestine service, destroyed those two videos of the interrogations of a pair of suspected Al Qaeda operatives. They were disgusting.

    We have taken refuge in euphemisms. "Enhanced," sometimes "aggressive" interrogation techniques—or, the latest offering of a CIA spokesman, "special methods of questioning"—are, deliberately, verbal anesthetic. In the wake of the last great war to save civilization, George Orwell taught us to distrust euphemisms. Always and without exception, they are designed to dull us to the truth. Those CIA videos would have stripped anyone who saw them of that comfortable distancing—confronted everyone who viewed them with the unimaginable reality of what the U.S. government has authorized in our name.

    Why do I suspect this? Because I've seen two films of torture sessions. Years ago, both of them. Even now, on bad nights, images surface. The unerasable pornography of calculated violence.


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