by Kagro X
Michael Mukasey is certainly qualified to be Attorney General of the United States, if Alberto Gonzales sets any precedent. And while that may be the least convincing recommendation anyone can ever be given for the job, consider that Mukasey yesterday gave perhaps the least convincing answer to one of the most important questions asked of him -- by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)-- in his confirmation hearing:
WHITEHOUSE: Is waterboarding constitutional?
MUKASEY: I don’t know what is involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.
WHITEHOUSE: "If waterboarding is constitutional" is a massive hedge.
MUKASEY: No, I said, "If it's torture." I'm sorry. I said, "If it's torture."
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, which 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?
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.
And Whitehouse is right, of course. To say torture is not constitutional is -- or should be, in a sane world -- to say nothing at all. That is the response one might expect from a junior high school civics student, not a nominee for Attorney General.
But Mukasey, and his putative boss, George W. Bush, have a much bigger problem than being able to get away with massive hedges. The problem is that Bush's policies have made it impossible for any nominee for Attorney General who hopes to retain any amount of faith with this "administration" to answer these threshold questions with any amount of honesty.
It is simply bedrock truth that no one can answer the torture questions honestly without exposing the fact that the "administration" hinges its entire detainee policy on semantics.
It is similarly unfathomable -- or once was unfathomable in America -- that a nominee for Attorney General of the United States would ever have to say anything other than "no" to the question of "Is waterboarding constitutional?"
George W. Bush's detainee policies have, quite simply, rendered honest and conscientious service as an Attorney General impossible. One simply cannot serve both this president and the law faithfully. It is a paradox and an impossibility, because this president does not serve the law faithfully. And what it means, at bottom, is that George W. Bush's "administration" is an enemy of the rule of law, and has so diminished our capacity to live by it that no honest Senator should permit him the charade of attending to it with the window dressing of confirming an Attorney General.
Anyone who would hold that job in this "administration" will by definition be reduced to serving as a placeholder only -- a mere figurehead to whom everyone will, out of pure habit only, refer to as the "Attorney General," but who will at the end of the day be prevented from administering the law he will have sworn to uphold.
October 19, 2007 at 12:33 in Bush Administration, Bush/Republican Scandals, Congress, Contributor--Kagro X, Law, Public Policy Process, Terrorism, War | Permalink
http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_ne ... -atto.html
OK; this is a bit out there, but is incredibly important, and I want everyone possible to know about this. Pass the word and grow the outrage. Please.
The two owners of the local alternative progressive newspaper, the Phoenix New Times, have been arrested by the local Sheriff and County Attorney.
The charges stem from a story published under their byline in the Thursday edition of New Times, in which they describe a subpoena the paper reportedly received from a grand jury convened by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
The alternative weekly newspaper, in its cover story, said the subpoena was part of an investigation orchestrated to get back at its reporters and the critical stories they wrote of County Attorney Andrew Thomas' political ally Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The scope of the subpoena is unusually broad: It not only demands information from the reporters but also information about all the online readers of the publication since Jan. 1, 2004, including their Internet domain names and browsers and what other Web sites they visited before reading New Times.
I know many of the folks at The New Times, several are friends. These are good people who do the only hard hitting investigative journalism done in Arizona anymore. Remember how Congressman Rick Renzi was recently taken out of commission over corruption? Well, it was the New Times that started the process back in 2003 with this article.
Our local Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, is a publicity seeking buffoon and the County Attorney, Andrew Thomas, is a young, extreme right wing, Dick Cheney loving (seriously), right to life, militant conservative, politically manipulative and ladder climbing jackbooted jerk. Their abuse of the grand jury and criminal process is shameful, unethical and outrageous to the extreme. This same County Attorney, Andrew Thomas, has also egregiously tried to silence and chill criminal judges here in Maricopa County by similarly outrageous attacks on the Assistant Presiding Criminal Judge.
Folks, everything we talk about here in terms of the national situation has just hit home in a big analogous way right here on the state and county level. When I, EW, Kagro X and all the others fine frequenters of this wonderful place talk about the need to have accountability, to have an impeachment investigation display what has gone on, and to once and for all put a stop to the totalitarian creep we have been witnessing; this is exactly why. By the way, did you all get that portion I bolded for you? If that isn't chilling, I don't know what is.
This is the ethos of activity
that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are currently ratifying and condoning through their coddling of the Bush Administration and refusal to permit legitimate investigation and prosecution.
information about all the online readers of the publication since Jan. 1, 2004, including their Internet domain names and browsers and what other Web sites they visited before reading New Times
bmaz, I can't see how that information has any bearing whatsoever on the stories. WTF?? Why
would any judge allow it?
i saw an item on larkey and lacy earlier today at tpm (david kurtz).
i was outraged, too.
this is yet another example of the american right-wing's
abuse of the law and use of the law
to punish political opponents
which i commented on earlier in e'wheel's post on feiger.
it really is a form of terrorism - frightening and silencing folk with the threat of police and legal action,with their attendant expense, damage to reputation, and incarceration.
although i'm not certain if i understood the whole thing, it seemed to me that the crux of the matter was that the gov't had issued a subpoena to the newspaper to provide the names and email addresses of commenters/subscribers. an obvious effort to extent the initial harassment of a grand jury investigation.
and now the two newsmen experience a third act of harassment when they go public in opposition to those prior efforts to mistreat and intimidate them. this story, and that of the vietnamese woman tam tran which think progress noted, represent the use/abuse of the law as an instrument of intimidation against political opponents.
kind of like what happened recently in zimbabwe when his opponents challenged robert mugabe and he had them beaten up and jailed.
the american right-wing and robert mugabe brothers under the skin.
Bmaz, yea I read that at TPM too, and it both angered and frightened me.
I wonder if a little "civil disobedience" is called for. Would it confound the Atty and sheriff if say a few hundred or thousand extra of us went over to the New Times website and started commenting? I mean wouldn't that tie up them even more in investigating all of us, also? I'm willing to become persona non grata of the Mariacopa County Sheriff, if you think that'd help.
fuck civil disobedience
let's uphold the law here
what we have is a "Special Prosecutor" who contacted a judge thru an intermediary to alter the course of a Grand Jury Investigation this is a CLEAR violation of the rules of the Bar, and a CLEAR violation of the laws of the State and the Nation
we don't need civil disobedience
we need to use the clear and legal remedy for this problem
disbar whomever acted as the intermediary, disbar the "Special Prosecutor", and enpanel a Special Grand Jury to hear charges of Tampering with the proceedings of a Grand Jury, Conspiricy to Obstruct Justice, and Obstruction Of Justice
The Judge who was contacted improperly has excellent notes of the conversation in question, including what reads as a confession and direct implication of the "Special Prosecutor" there ain't gonna be any discussion about "If" these events occured. The "Special Prosecutor thinks he's done nothing wrong
let this putz tell his tale to a Grand Jury, and then start the clock on his convictionwanna bet he sets a record ???
KJ - Yeah, I dunno. Trust me, I understand the frustration. Keep fighting and doing what we are doing is the best I got. As bleak as it often seems, if you step back and think about it, tremendous progress has been made in some critical aspects. By that I mean mostly public perception. It was not all that long ago that most Americans trusted and believed Bush/Cheney and approved of their policies and war. I personally never understood how that could be, but it was so. Now, the opposite is true. By far more than a majority, Americans now don't trust Bush/Cheney, don't approve of their policies, and don't approve of their war or the fact that they started it, and have grave concerns over the illegal wiretapping. Places like TNH, and the motivated progressive people that participate here, as well as all the other sites that we all know and love, are a critical reason this grassroots shift has occurred. So, it is working, just not as fast and as completely (read the political leaders) that we would like. Can't give up; so we must press on.....
Everybody - Thanks for the response on the New Times bit. As I said earlier, these are good people and I have friends there. The New Times did major stories on several cases I was involved in, and even in the one case they blasted our client and defense of him, they were extremely professional and did great work (Not to mention client was one creepy mofo). Please keep your eye on this story, and I will try to keep making updates, because this is a very bad thing going on and County Attorney Thomas and Sheriff Buffoon, er I mean Arpaio, need to be stopped in their tracks.
It appears that the nasty New Times case is being dropped.
'New Times' case dropped, special prosecutor fired
OK! Good News. The charges against The New Times owners have been dropped: From the Arizona Republic:
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced Friday afternoon that he was dismissing the case against New Times and that no charges would be pursued against the editors and writers involved in the case.
Thomas also said he was dismissing special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik, who had pursued the case on the county's behalf.
Thomas said that mistakes were made, that the case had been grossly mishandled and that he was uncomfortable with where the case had gone.
He said he had only learned in the past day that a subpoena had been issued for Web site information from New Times.
On Thursday, New Times published a story disclosing that a grand jury subpoena had sought extensive information about stories the paper published on Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The subpoena also sought information about readers of the New Times Web site, including their computerized addresses and which Web browsers they used.
“It has become clear to me the investigation has gone in a direction I would not have authorized,” Thomas said.
Well, that was fast eh? Heh heh. Guess all those calls to the Arizona State Bar, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors that I, and a lot of like minded attorneys and regular citizens, made really payed off. Not to mention that TPM, New York Times, and of course the wonderful people here, got the word out and exhibited outrage. By the way, County Attorney Thomas has previously tried to wrongfully investigate/prosecute our Attorney General, Terry Goddard. Goddard is, of course, a Democrat and Thomas wants either his or Governor Napolitano's job. This guy Andrew Thomas needs to be stopped and sent to whatever place of penance the rest of the Bush/Cheney criminals are destined for.
After what we have witnessed first hand, there is no nominee that could possibly be put forth that is not going to protect the person that is attempting to install them. Tis' the 14th warning sign of totalitarian behavior. There has never been any indication that the rule of law is important to anyone nominating, judging, contracting, .... well any act where the "ing" shows motion. With the exceptions where it concerns profiteering or racketeering. The verb has no function with noun any
To continue the sham after Leahy's "apparent" cave in is hard to handle. For someone that has behaved as Mr. Leahy has in the past, one might be tempted to consider that he has been "altered". It is a striking transformation for someone that has always appeared to be trying to uncover potential "problems", to change and say this person is "okeydokey" is beyond reason for any of us not so transformed as to believe that a sudden shift causes blue to be red.
Has Leahy turned? He is making comments that sound as though he has been bought.
That's it exactly, pinson. It's untenable, and it became so because of Bush's detainee policies (and a number of other, related factors).
Like the old joke about not joining any club that'd have me as a member, there is no person whose honesty and integrity would allow them to serve both the rule of law as Attorney General, and the president (as a real president would deserve to be served) as a member of his cabinet. Anyone who had the integrity it took to serve as Attorney General would have to immediately resign rather than carry out this president's policies. So in that sense, it's just not worth anyone's time to confirm any nominee.
ou are missing the most important part of Mukasey's testimony which was on the first day. In answer to Senator Diane Feinstein, one of the few bright lights, Mukasey said that the Supreme Court has stated that the president has the right to seize a person on a battle field and hold him without charges and trial forever. Feinstein said, I'm talking about an American citizen seized on American soil. Mukasey got cute and said something to the effect that American soil could be considered a battle ground.
Come on folks. This guy makes Gonzalez look benign. He's smart and willful. He's already giving Bush ideas how to grab more of us off the street like the 1970s Argentina. . At least Gonzalez indicated he knew what torture is; whereas, Mukasey has no idea what it is but can assure us we don't do it. He'll be justifying throwing Americans out of helicopters over the ocean by saying they were only taking them out for a swim.
Great job, BMAZ! And, it is nice to know that there are still some people who will uphold the law...
I have a fairly long commute each way to work, and I had an interesting thought on the way home today. Bush, Cheney, Gonzo, and all their buddies have done a fine job of shredding the Constitution. Despite Bush's comment the other day to the effect that he vetoes bills to show that he is 'relevant' (or something like that), the entire executive branch of government is rapidly making itself irrelevant.
Now, couple that with whatever is going on behind the scenes to cause congressional leaders to do
(or not do) whatever they are doing, and essentially, Congress is making itself irrelevant, too.
You have the Executive Branch making a mockery of the third branch of government (the Supreme Court and judiciary), and Congress failing to enforce the law of the land. There is no branch of our federal government that is accomplishing anything.
I guess what it all adds up to is that our federal government is collapsing. Local and state rule will become increasingly more powerful -- but we will also get more nutty scenarios as happened with the subpoena that was served on that newspaper.
I don't dare go any further with where all this could go because it is too scary...
Maybe it is time to start saying a few prayers...
Instead of asking a nominee what is torture and what is not, they should pass a law clearly stating the techniques that are illegal since they amount to torture. But this is the same gutless Congress that is afraid to use thier constitutional powers to stop the Iraq war. No wonder approval for Congress is in the low teens, even lower than Bush's approval rating.
Thanks folks, but I didn't do anything but post the story here and another couple of places and make a few pissed off phone calls, some to the authorities, some to friends to get them to do the same. There were clearly a lot of people who were doing the same from the reports of the people I spoke with; a LOT of people doing the same. Whoever, and wherever, those people are, they did a very good thing and achieved a great result in a very short time. Without the net, both blogs and news sites, this could never have happened at this speed.