Democrats & Liberals Archives

Say NO to Mukasey

Bush’s nominee for Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey, is answering questions at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting today. Or maybe I should say he is not answering questions. When questions are too hot, he beats around the Bush.

This is the first paragraph of a New York Times article:

President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey, declined today to say if he considered such harsh interrogation techniques as waterboarding, which creates the sensation of drowning, to constitute torture or to be illegal when used against terrorist suspects.

Specifically, here is part of the conversation at the hearing:

MUKASEY: If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional. […]

WHITEHOUSE: If it’s torture. That’s a massive hedge. I mean, it either is or it isn’t. Do you have an opinion on whether waterboarding…is constitutional?

MUKASEY: If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.

WHITEHOUSE: I’m very disappointed in that answer. I think it is purely semantic.

MUKASEY: I’m sorry.

The senate is being asked to confirm a guy who would not admit that waterboarding is torture. He keeps saying "if it amounts to torture" as though he is waiting for someone to clue him in on whether it is torture or not. Whom is he waiting for? Bush? Where is Mukasey's so-called independence that everyone - including Senator Schumer - is touting?

Are we going to confirm this guy who is obviously a phony? He makes statements that appear to distance himself from Bush and then he says things that show his ideas are not far removed from those of Bush. Where does Mukasey actually stand?

We need an attorney general that will clean up the justice mess in the Justice Department. Pussyfutting Mukasey is not that man. It's better to have someone temporarily in charge as is the case now, than to approve a Bush crony. Urge your senators to vote NO.

Posted by Paul Siegel at October 18, 2007 4:48 PM
Comment #236446

Paul, simple solution. Have the Senator define torture as he would interpret the constitution and then ask the question. That puts the burden of definition on the Senate. If the Senator were to state; “in my opinion waterboarding is torture as defined by the constitution.” I believe he would get a yes or no answer based on the senators opinion. As far as I know, the Supreme Court has not ruled that waterboarding is torture as defined in our constitution. YOu know this is just a huge game of “gotcha” that the senate plays with every confirmation hearing. And the game is played by both sides. Please, let’s not pretend otherwise.

Posted by: Jim at October 18, 2007 6:46 PM
Comment #236448


I agree. Do NOT confirm this asshole. He seemed acceptable to a point but NO MORE!

Of course Bush will appoint him anyway when congress is in recess around the end of the year, but JUST SAY NO to Mukasey.

Just say no!

Posted by: KansasDem at October 18, 2007 7:03 PM
Comment #236465

Jim is right, this is just another huge game of “gotsha.” A huge majority of the people know that this administration is like a bloated maggot filled with corruption. Despite all the secrecy, more than enough information has leaked out to assure us that this Administration is the most corrupt in history. Never before has an Administration performed war mongering, torture, fear mongering, no bid contracts to partisan cronies, partisan corporate hacks making policy that stifles regulation and accountability more incompetently.

There is no way that Bush is going to nominate anyone for Attorney General that will prosecute his Administration or cooperate with Congress to even investigate the Administration and the Senators know it.

Posted by: jlw at October 19, 2007 12:13 AM
Comment #236470

Paul, I caught part of his testimony on C-Span. You are right. He is not to be trusted. His equivocal answers and delicately phrased responses do not inspire confidence. When Boxer asked him about his advice to Bush about the Padilla detention without trial, his response was that he has had much to learn since then.

This was a Judge for Buddha’s sake, before his advice to Bush that it was OK to detain an American citizen on American soil without due process. His education and understanding of Constitutional constraints upon the Executive are woefully inadequate. He cannot protect and defend a Constitution he does not understand nor comprehend.

What I found truly remarkable however, is the appearance that Democrats had already decided to approve his nomination before the hearing began. They appeared to be content to get him on record as being the Non-Gonzo appointee, willing to advise the President when the President is wrong, or step down if that advice is not taken.

The lack of attempts to pin Mukasey down on his Constitutional understanding and comprehension and what his advice would be, appeared to reflect a preordained Pass by Senate Democrats in the hearing.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 19, 2007 2:27 AM
Comment #236502

I think the main problem here lies with the question he was asked. He’s accused of giving an answer which is only “semantics,” but the question itself was a semantic one—namely, how he would define something. Had he agreed with the Congressman, his answer would also have been nothing more than semantics.

Whether something is “constitutional” or not is a very different question from whether it is legal under military law or international law, and is also a very different question from the ultimate question of whether or not something is right or wrong or whether he agrees with the practice.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 19, 2007 11:07 PM
Comment #236508

Wasn’t John Kennedy’s brother Attorney general? Any president would be expected to place someone who agrees with him in an office that he is responsible for. Appointing would lose its meaning otherwise. It would be “recommending” instead. I am sure the next pres will do the same.
The Senate simply determines competence pertaining to improprieties that could cause embarrassment and that he is qualified due to experience. Agenda questions shouldn’t even be answered. He is being courteous by giving general answers rather than telling them it is none of their business.

Posted by: Kruser at October 20, 2007 12:36 AM
Comment #236510

Kruser, sorry, but the Constitution gives the Senate the power to accept or reject the President’s recommendation. Recommend is precisely what the President is permitted under the Constitution. If appointment for this position were intended, the Senate would not be in the loop at all. But, the Senate IS in the loop by design to act as a Check and Balance on the power of the President to try to recreate the power of the King the colonialist overthrew in the Colonies.

Contrary to your implication, the Att. Gen.’s first and foremost duty and responsibility is to the Constitution, and ALL of the laws that emanate from it, NOT TO THE PRESIDENT. This was the reason Gonzalez had to resign - he was acutely aware he had stepped across that line many times, and he had become a liability to the nation, his own office and agency, and to the President as a result.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 20, 2007 1:49 AM
Comment #236524

David R. Remer- I would love to see this Post placed

in the Congressional Quarterly, very appropriate


Posted by: -DAVID- at October 20, 2007 3:51 PM
Comment #236534

David, I agree that it’s the job of the AG to serve the law first and foremost, but it’s arguable that Gonzales was forced to resign precisely because he DIDN’T do an adequate job of serving the president’s interests.

Democrats and others who felt that he was breaking laws didn’t have sufficient influence to force him out. It was only when Republicans turned on him for doing such a bad job of defending or even explaining his actions that he was pushed out.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 20, 2007 10:48 PM
Comment #236544

Loyal Opp, I agree. I never said Gonzo was forced out by Democrats, though their focus on his actions did have some part to play in Republicans rejection of the his contribution to their Party’s reputation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 21, 2007 1:12 AM
Comment #237121

“The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice (see 28 U.S.C. § 503) concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The Attorney General is considered to be the chief lawyer of the US government. The Attorney General serves as a member of the President’s Cabinet, but is the only cabinet department head who is not given the title Secretary.

The Attorney General is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate. He or she serves at the pleasure of the President and can be removed by the President at any time; the Attorney General is also subject to impeachment by the House of Representatives and trial in the Senate for “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Recommend, David? Nonsense. He is a cabinet appointment. All Presidents have the right to appoint their preferences for each position.

Posted by: Kruser at October 27, 2007 9:43 PM
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