Reject Mukasey


My colleague Howard Salter and I had a funny conversation a couple of weeks ago that evolved into this blog post of his, a lost scene of the Godfather acted out by various personalities in Vice President Cheney’s office. The title of the post: Who Got to Mukasey?
I smacked myself afterwards for failing to make the obvious connection that should be obvious to all Godfather fans. Judge Michael Mukasey is Frank Pentangeli, the would-be witness against the Corleone crime family who suddenly recants his testimony. In Godfather, Part II, the Corleones fly Pengangeli’s brother in to remind him where he came from; Howard jokes something similar may be afoot with the sudden change in tone between days one and two of the Mukasey hearings.
By all accounts, Judge Mukasey is a bright man with a record of independent judgment. However, his unwillingness to identify waterboarding as torture undercuts his credibility completely. The question that must be asked is: can a reasonable, independent-minded jurist conclude that waterboarding might not be torture? The answer, as far as Citizens for Global Solutions is concerned, is no.
Here’s the statement of Raj Purohit:

“Citizens for Global Solutions opposes the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey for United States Attorney General because of his unwillingness to support long-established international legal standards related to torture and interrogation. An individual unable to state on the record that waterboarding is torture cannot be trusted to hold the position of Attorney General. The United States is a nation of laws and our standing in the world has eroded in recent years because the current administration has flouted well-established legal norms. The Senate must prevent a continuation of this negative trend and should reject the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey.”

— Scott Paul


14 comments on “Reject Mukasey

  1. B.N. says:

    Of course, Mukasey knows that waterboarding is torture. And, of course, he was coached after the first day of confirmation hearings how to react to torture and presidential abuse of power questions and the likes.
    I find Mr. Mukasey’s seemingly limitless construction of presidential power just as troubling as his refusal to take a categorical stand against torture. But with respect to waterboarding and other torture methods, his reluctance and the president’s remarks yesterday make perfectly clear that the U.S. government continues to allow these illegal and unconstitutional methods.


  2. DonS says:

    Maybe its my advancing years, but I can’t quite believe a US/DOJAG nominee can’t answer the question “Is waterboarding torture” without reference to his briefing book. I keep playing the circumstances and variation over i my mind, but I’m still incredulous.
    Years ago, well say 5 years ago, some of us used to post things on blogs alluding to the totalitarian nature of the Bush regime. We were mildly chastized by our progressive brethren for being a bit extreme in our rhetoric for, surely, Bush/Cheney were bad but not, you know, aspiring dictators.


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Whats the big deal here? Just what the fuck do we expect? Gonzales committed blatant perjury during his confirmation hearings, lying unabashedly about his role in having Bush recused from jury duty, in order to conceal Bush’s drunk driving record. Everyone knew he was lying his slimey sleazy Bush licking ass off. Yet here you had an AG nominee, committing KNOWN perjury, and these SOB cowards confirmed him anyway. Why should this latest nominee be expected to be held to a higher standard? Did Gonzales escape accountability for repeatedly lying to us, both during his confirmation hearings, and about the attorney firings? Did ANY of these fucking cowards in Congress demand accountability, and prosecution for perjury?
    It amazes me that no matter how many times these pieces of shit in Washington show us they have absolutely NO regard for the law or ethical governance, people still act flabbergasted when another sleazy asshole is held up as viable leadership material.
    Besides, we don’t torture in Bushworld.
    Confirm him and move on. What does it matter anymore? Do you really think there is an ethical moral person left in Washington to place in the position? I got news for you, if they had ethics, or morals, or respect for the law, they would not be an appointee. IN fact, they wouldn’t be able to get within a 100 miles of a “confirmation hearing”.


  4. eCAHnomics says:

    Call Schumer (202) 224-6542 or (212) 486-4430.
    He’s the key. If you want him to think you’re in-state, tell him you’re from zip code 10022, which is midtown Manhattan.
    His phone answerer claimed, to a caller a couple of days ago, that Schumer didn’t know about Mukasey’s opinion about torture. Use that as as an out for him: “I know Senator Schumer did not know how Mukasy thought about torture when he introduced his name, so the Senator should certainly revise his opinion in light of that knowledge.”


  5. Dan Kervick says:

    I hope this Mukasey case will make us all reflect on the hideous pit into which this country has fallen, and recognize the extreme gravity of the crisis we are in. The executive branch is in a bunker and can no longer function, because it has become impossible for individuals to testify truthfully before Congress and serve the administration at the same time.
    If one is applying for a job as the top legal muscle in a criminal organization, one can hardly be expected to go before a Senate committee, and declare that one’s future employers are, in fact, criminals. To use Scott’s Godfather analogy, this is like expecting Tom Hagen to testify at one of those organized crime hearings and, when asked “What do your employers do for a living?”, say “They’re in the Mafia, Senator. They kill people.”
    Could it be that we have finally reached the Joseph Welch moment in the long, sad tale of this miserable administration of reprobates? Everybody knows that this administration does practice waterboarding, and everybody knows that waterboarding is torture. Everybody knows that is a grotesque crime. Isn’t it time for whatever decent Republicans remain in this country to shake off their self-deception and cognitive dissonance and do what is necessary to purge the polluted soul of their party, and to spit out its ugly criminal element?
    The guys at the top actually are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. There is no way around it.
    Mukasey should withdraw. But he should withdraw honorably by making a final public statement that waterboarding is torture; as such it is a violation of law; and he has concluded he cannot serve an administration that is engaged in this illegal activity.
    My recommendation is that other Republicans of honor in the executive branch then begin to resign en masse from this administration. By doing so, they will precipitate an urgent crisis of government.
    At this point, Republican leaders should go to the White House, make it clear to the President that it is no longer possible for him to govern the country, and engineer his removal. They can demand that the Vice President first resign, and be replaced by some moderate and more respectable Republican leader, maybe someone like Arlen Specter. Following the replacement’s accession, they demand the resignation of the President, so the new Vice President is elevated to the caretaker role. If the President and Vice President refuse, they are to be impeached.
    Those who take the step of participating in the mass resignation will save their historical reputations. Those who continue to serve will be sullied permanently.
    I know several formerly decent men whose loyalty to the Republican Party and the Bush administration has so twisted their consciences and moral outlook, and plunged them so deeply into a dark authoritarian fanaticism, that I sincerely fear for the domestic safety and stability of this country. It’s time for those Republicans who have not succumbed to this disease to step up.


  6. erict says:

    Mukasey will withdraw this weekend.
    He is thinking about historical legacy and his personal reputation– it is not the opposition in the Senate. He and his family are realizing that to become associated with this administration is akin to jumping into a corrupt cesspool.
    From a historical perspective, this administration will be the dark point of the American democracy experiment… the ugly Fascist Mussolini and Franco-like regime of the US.


  7. David N says:

    Always, always, always, we have to understand that these people do not use the words in the English language the way they were meant to be used.
    When Bush says “compromise,” he means, “my way.”
    When he says “bipartisan,” he means, “my way.”
    When he says “partisan,” he means, “a slight deviation from what I want, and therefore unacceptable.”
    When he says, “legal,” he means, “whatever I say.”
    It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. Everyone here knows this. It does take someone smarter than anyone in the national journalism profession, though.


  8. YY says:

    When the democratic presidential hopefuls are more or less in consensus as to opposing Mukasey, it SHOULD be easy for the democrats in Senate committee to vote down the nomination. Be partisan for a change, since they’re accused of it all the time anyway. (Do not do the right thing for the wrong end instead do the wrong thing for the right end)
    The insane part of this is that it has has boxed in everybody (especially the whitehouse) on the issue of constitutionality of waterboarding (absolving war crimes).


  9. ToddinHB says:

    Time for Mukasey to take one for the team. I’m sure there are numerous Egyptian interrogators who would be willing to give him a test-run and then he can tell us all if it is indeed torture.
    At least, that’s my fantasy.


  10. downtown says:

    This article by investigative reporter Wayne Barrett of NYC’s Village Voice brings to light some very disconcerting facts about Mukasey’s ties to Rudy Giuliani.,barrett,78212,6.html


  11. jon says:

    Sad, they picked a guy they thought they could get through confirmation quick and painlessly, and this is what we come to.
    If waterboarding isn’t torture, then nothing is.
    If you can’t answer the question simply, what will you do when you get to the hard calls?
    It’s pretty obvious that he got leaned on. But the AG is supposed to have a little backbone and independence; that upholding of the Constitution thing.
    Of course, we could have settled for Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court, and look what we wound up with. Anybody notice who’s warming up in the on-deck circle?


  12. Ben Rosengart says:

    I have written to my California senators and to my former (and probably future, in Schumer’s case at least) New York senators — getting two Judiciary Committee members.
    Mukasey may be a good guy in many ways, but one must draw a line somewhere. A nominee for AG should stand for the Constitution and the rule of law.


  13. pauline says:

    It’s obvious to me the good judge can’t say “waterboarding is torture”, because if he does, then many people, even the ones who signed off on this “torture/interrogation” technique, become liable.
    And, who knows, if it’s followed up the chain in a civil or criminal court proceeding, it just might end up at the #1 or #2 position in our government.
    Maybe the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, knows why the judge is not directly answering. Let’s ask him. We’re bound to get a more credible answer than the good judge’s mutterings.


  14. ... says:

    so many apologists for the bush admins torture tactics – we don’t need another one.. is this the main reason why he is being considered and has gotten this far???
    how about accountability instead? anyone around who is up for that???


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