Katherine at Obsidian Wings wrote an interesting post yesterday regarding President Bush’s Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey. After watching the confirmation hearing, she concluded:

None of the statements that I’ve read today give me any real information or reassurance about what he will do as Attorney General. […]The statements that “I categorically denounce torture,” “the United States doesn’t torture,” “torture is antithetical to our values”—they are meaningless from members of this administration.

While she is absolutely right that his blanket statements are meaningless, I have to disagree that we didn’t learn any real information about what Michael Mukasey would do as Attorney General. Quite the opposite actually. We learned quite a bit, but from different statements.

The mindset Mukasey exhibited, via the following examples, and the conclusions that can be drawn, paint a disturbing picture.

During his confirmation hearing:

1) Michael Mukasey made excuses for President Bush’s violations of FISA.

SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER: We’re talking about the ‘terrorist surveillance program’,which has warrantless wiretaps, contrasted with FISA which says the exclusive procedure to have a wiretap is to get a warrant. Now, what the President did violates FISA. Is it justifiable under his Article 2 powers?

MICHAEL MUKASEY: As I understand it, the President believed, and still believes, that FISA was not the only applicable statute. That he was acting with authorization under the authorization for the use of military force. I understand that there’s more than one view on it.

SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER: Judge Mukasey, I don’t think anybody ever really seriously contended that our resolution of September 14 authorizing the use of force encompassed a violation of FISA.

Conclusion: As Attorney General, Michael Mukasey will not stop President Bush from breaking the FISA law.

2) Michael Mukasey said he would not advise the President to grant detainees habeas corpus rights.

SENATOR LINDSAY GRAHAM: Would you advise the President of the United States to allow unlawful enemy combatants to have habeas corpus rights at Guantanamo Bay?

MICHAEL MUKASEY: I would not advise the President to grant rights beyond those that they already have…

Conclusion: If Michael Mukasey becomes Attorney General, habeas corpus, and therefore the 6th Amendment to the Constitution, will not be enforced by the Justice Department.

3) Michael Mukasey expressed concern that the media shield law would make it harder to change the rules of the Justice Department to fit requests for subpoenas of reporters.

MICHAEL MUKASEY: It bears some mention… that there are within the Department very elaborate procedures before anyone is permitted to subpoena a reporter. Some AUSA with a subpoena and a typewriter doesn’t decide whether to subpoena a reporter. There are many levels of approval that have to be gotten, in main Justice, not just the assistant’s own office before a subpoena can be issued to a reporter. It was my own view, and I obviously don’t know all of the cases, that the system worked passably well, up until now. But one thing about internal procedures is that if you need to change them, they are relatively easy to change. You can adjust the regulation, you can adjust the procedures, you can put more levels in, you could change standards. It’s relatively easy to do. It becomes much harder when it’s etched in stone, in the form of legislation, and that is part of the reason for my unease.

Conclusion: As Attorney General, if rules or laws prohibit something he wants, Michael Mukasey would be willing to change the rules or laws.

4) Michael Mukasey confirmed that he believes due process is less important than gathering information.

SENATOR LINDSAY GRAHAM: There’s no better way for America to lead the world when it comes to the war on terror than take an enemy who has done us terrible harm and treat them in line with our values. Give them lawyers when they would give us none. Have a process where a civilian court could review the military work product and let the world know that whatever happened to the enemy combatant wasn’t the result of religious prejudice, anger, or revenge, but was the result of due process of law. Don’t you think that’s the best way to fight this war?

MICHAEL MUKASEY: I do, but I’m reluctant to add a footnote, but I have to, and that is so long as we don’t compromise our ability to gather intelligence as we do that.

Conclusion: With Michael Mukasey as Attorney General, gathering information will be more important to the Justice Department than ensuring Constitutional rights.

The problem with Michael Mukasey is summarized by this statement:

MICHAEL MUKASEY: The law emphatically includes the Constitution.

He fails to recognize that, in the United States, the Constitution is the law. All other laws are only valid if they are constitutional. Among other revelations, we learned that Michael Mukasey will not stop President Bush from spying without a warrant (a violation of the 4th Amendment) and will not grant habeas corpus rights to prisoners (a violation of the 6th Amendment), and therefore does not intend to uphold and defend the Constitution, believing other laws and principles to be more important.

This country might not be able to handle another Attorney General with limited respect for the Constitution. Michael Mukasey is not the guy to turn the Justice Department around.

For the Constitution’s sake, he should not be confirmed.

Jen Clark – Little Country Lost

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