American Freedom Campaign
Action: Tell your senators to oppose the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next attorney general. (Sponsored by the American Freedom Campaign)
From the email:
Within days, the Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to vote on the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next attorney general of the United States. During his testimony before the committee, Mukasey made numerous comments that demonstrate his lack of respect for domestic law and international treaties. He went so far as to say that the president could ignore federal law whenever he determined — on his own — that national security interests trumped the laws of the land.
Don’t sit by quietly and allow this man to become the nation’s top law enforcement official. Take a moment and send an email to your senators, urging them to oppose Mukasey’s nomination.
Here is just a sampling of the outrageous assertions made by Mukasey before the Judiciary Committee:
Mukasey refused to acknowledge that “waterboarding,” a technique used to simulate drowning during interrogations, constitutes torture. Despite the fact that waterboarding is an infamous torture technique barred under both international and domestic law, Mukasey said that he was not familiar with the practice. He could only meekly say, “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.” Given the Bush Administration’s practice of having a flexible definition of torture, confirming a nominee who cannot recognize waterboarding as torture would be like putting an inmate in charge of the asylum.
Mukasey shockingly claimed that the president should not be bound by federal law. When asked specifically whether the president is required to obey federal statutes, he said, “That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country.” It is that kind of attitude that led to the use of torture, the abuse of signing statements, and widespread and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping. We are — and we can only hope we will always be — a government of laws, not of man (or woman). It is not up to the president or other members of the administration to determine whether federal laws apply in a given situation.
(For a lengthier discussion of the preceding point, see this recent opinion piece in The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/opinion/23rubenfeld.html )
Mukasey indicated that his Department of Justice would likely turn a blind eye to the Bush Administration practice of ignoring congressional subpoenas. He was asked whether he would, as attorney general, direct the U.S. attorney in D.C. to refer contempt charges against Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to a federal grand jury for criminal prosecution, as federal law requires should the House or Senate pass a contempt resolution. Despite the fact that executive privilege is traditionally asserted to protect certain documents or conversations — not to defy completely a subpoena to appear before Congress — Mukasey said that the U.S. attorney would have to determine whether the assertion of privilege was “unreasonable.” If Mukasey does not know that it was unreasonable already, there is little chance that he will object when a Bush-appointed U.S. attorney claims that it was not.
When Mukasey was first nominated, he was widely praised for his balance and intellect. It is now clear that he would be anything but balanced when it comes to the relationship between Congress and the executive branch. With respect to his intellect, it appears that whatever faculties he possesses, they would be employed to further the Bush Administration’s goal of expanding executive power and defying any entity — including Congress — that dares stand in its way.
After the disastrous tenure of Alberto Gonazales, our next attorney general must be committed to upholding the rule of law. Unfortunately, Michael Mukasey has demonstrated that he will place the whims and desires of the executive branch above both domestic and international law. This is simply unacceptable.
Thank you for taking action.
Acting Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign
Mike Mukasey Attorney General Senate Confirmation Hearing (videos; links)
Mukasey Attorney General Senate Confirmation Hearing, Day 2 (videos; links)
Waterboarding is Torture… Period + US accused of torture by Ian Munro
Immoral Relativism By Jon Ponder
Torture, Paramilitarism, Occupation and Genocide by Stephen Lendman
The Imperial Presidency by Ralph Nader
Mukasey Defends Bush Admin on Post-9/11 Measures, But Vows Independence (link)
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A few facts:
1) The US doesn’t have a legally definitive definition of “torture” and attorneys are loath to commit to statements that don’t have strict definitions and legal precedence. Mukasey wasn’t being particularly disingenuous in his statements.
2) US Law and the defined duties of the President DO require that the President take what steps are necessary to defend our people. nowhere is it stated that he has to obey federal law when he is acting to defend the nation. This is a problem with the way the laws and presidential duties are written, not a problem with Mukasey’s attitude or beliefs.
3) Every time Executive Privilege is invoked to refuse Congress access to information it has to determined whether the assertion of privilege was “unreasonable” or not. That is the way the system is supposed to work.
Congress’ demands in the recent issues were themselves unreasonable – as was W’s response. Neither side has clean hands on this one.
To me Mukasey is a less-than-perfect choice but probably the best one available. Neither the Executive nor the Legislative branches of our government will be completely happy with him, but that’s a good thing since each side only wants a lapdog who will do what they want to the other branch.