SJC Approves Mukasey

18:23 Tue 06 Nov 2007
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The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Michael Mukasey’s nomination for Attorney General today. Mukasey is clearly another Bush stooge (otherwise he wouldn’t be their nominee) and hardly the person to roll back the assaults on civil liberties perpetrated by his predecessors. Not that Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer, the two Democrats on the committee to vote for approval, really care about that. The AP report I link to contains this beautiful paragraph:

The 11-8 vote came only after two key Democrats accepted his assurance to enforce any law Congress might enact against waterboarding.
“Mukasey nomination sent to full Senate”, Laurie Kellman, Associated Press, 6 November 2007

Waterboarding is already illegal. It’s torture. It’s always been torture. The claims that it’s not are specious and dishonest, and try to redefine torture as referring only to methods that the US intelligence arms don’t happen to use right now.

Furthermore, if Congress were to enact some law making it even more clear that the technique is torture, Bush would probably veto it, so Mukasey wouldn’t face a test of his assurance—which, incidentally, seems fairly worthless anyway.

Most of the focus has been on his refusal to admit that it’s torture, which should disqualify him in the eyes of anyone who thinks the Attorney General’s job is concerned with justice. However, in the context of the discussion on torture, he apparently made this assertion:

Mr. Mukasey said the president’s authority as commander in chief might allow him to supersede laws written by Congress.
“Senators Clash With Nominee About Torture”, Philip Shenon, The New York Times, 19 October 2007

Anyone serious about the rule of law should have held up their hands at that point and voted against him. That claim is truly ridiculous, at least if we’re talking about legal authority. The president cannot simply break the law and claim it’s legal to do so. It’s not legal, that’s what breaking the law means. The law still applies to presidents. Mukasey is clearly yet another believer in the “Unitary Executive”, the idea that President is effectively King, and that the legislative branch is some kind of annoying impediment. For these representatives of the legislative branch to let that pass is an abdication of their responsibility and dereliction of democratic duty.

Not that this is surprising. These are all people who identify with the ruling class (which makes sense) and feel that the only real threat to their power would come from the teeming masses below, and not from above (those above are, after all, part of the same class).

Mukasey will likely be confirmed, yet another AG who believes that the President can make the law will control the Justice Department, and more civil liberties in this country will cease to exist even on paper.

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