October 17, 2007

Is AG Designate Mukasey Already Kowtowing to Pat Leahy?

Hatched by Dafydd

Ever since the drumbeat to "fire Gonzales" shifted from Democrats and RINOs (about whose opinion on the subject, who cares?) to conservative Republicans upset that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales opposed the mass deportation of illegal aliens, I have warned that if Gonzales went, it would be virtually impossible to find someone that most Republicans would consider "better."

It would be trivially easy to find someone we would consider worse... and I'm starting to worry that that's exactly what President Bush, abandoned on the issue by Republicans as well as Democrats, has done: replaced King Log with King Stork:

Attorney General-designate Michael Mukasey said Wednesday the president doesn't have the authority to use torture techniques against terrorism suspects, a stance not taken by predecessor Alberto Gonzales and considered key to the nominee's confirmation.... [But how is "torture" defined -- the Bush/Gonzales way, or the Leahy/Schumer way?]

Within minutes of convening the hearings, Leahy elicited specific assurances from the nominee that had been sought by liberal interest groups and senators who had endured months of Gonzales' faulty memory during congressional hearings and highly parsed statements.

Under questioning by Leahy, Mukasey promised to bar all but the top Justice employees from taking calls or making calls "to political figures to talk about cases," a problem under Gonzales. [A "problem" to Democrats and RINOs like Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA, 43%); I don't recall conservatives complaining.]

"Partisan politics plays no part in either the bringing of charges or the timing of charges," Mukasey said....

Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from Mukasey's home state of New York, said he already had heard the answer he wanted in a private meeting with Mukasey a day earlier. Schumer said he asked the nominee, "Will you have the courage to look squarely into the eyes of the president of the United States and tell him 'no,' if that is your best legal and ethical judgment?"

Mukasey, Schumer said, replied: "Absolutely. That is what I am there for." [The Attorney General is "there" to tell the president he can't implement policy that Democrats don't like -- not to prosecute the laws of the United States?]

The White House has seldom, if ever, placated prickly Democrats into the kind of support they are exhibiting for Mukasey. But in the troubled twilight of Bush's second term, Mukasey's nomination is a political peace offering. [Was that what conservatives were hoping for when they demanded Gonzales' ouster... that his replacement would be a "peace offering" to Democrats?]

Did Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat "Leaky" Leahy (D-VT, 95%) also elicit a definition of prohibited torture from Mukasey that includes waterboarding, stress positions, a raised voice, the attention grab, or that crime against humanity, the belly slap?

Did they gain a promise from Mukasey to resign only if his personal ethical standards were offended by the president -- or also if Leahy's ethical standards were offended?

And does another promise Mukasey made to the Democrats mean that local congressmen and senators cannot even call U.S. attorneys to inquire whether there is an investigation about some local issue, and whether it's progressing or stymied? That hardly seems like undue interference by politicians in legal issues. And while we're on it, did Mukasey also pledge not to dismiss any USAs -- unless Democrats on the Senate J-Com approve the firings in advance?

We don't know the answers to any of these vital questions. But the New York Times adds one more "interesting" policy that Mukasey definitely pledged to Democrats and RINOs on the J-Com that he would implement:

Moreover, the nominee said, “Hiring is going to be based solely on competence and ability and dedication and not based on whether somebody’s got an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to their name.”

I notice he excluded basing hiring on the willingness of candidates to follow the president's legal priorities and agendas, rather than ride off on their own quests. Does this mean Mukasey has pledged to hire as a US Attorney or Assistant Attorney General the next competent, legally astute, and dedicated Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Stephen Breyer who comes along?

But besides mere competence, ability, and dedication, ideology and the willingness to be the president's voice, not a wild card with a wild hair, must play a role in selecting top officials at the Justice Department, as well as United States Attorneys.

What if a candidate has all the proper attributes on paper, but he makes it clear that he thinks the most urgent issue to pursue, to the exclusion of virtually everything else, is the unsupported accusation of massive suppression of minority voting by the wicked Republicans -- rather than well-founded allegations of voter fraud by Democrats? What if he announces, in the interview, that he plans to launch an immediate investigation of the "vital unanswered question" of what the president knew about 9/11, and how long before the attack did he know it? Or if a nominee for USA of some border-state declares that the most important task of his office will be to assist state and local law enforcement authorities track down and prosecute policemen who cooperate with federal immigration agents, in defiance of local "non-compliance" and "sanctuary" laws?

On its face, this pledge would seem to directly contradict the very idea of the unitary executive -- supported by conservatives and originalists, but hated and despised by the Left (at least when a Republican is in the White House): the theory that the elements of the Executive branch of government are extensions of the president... not completely independent agents whose real job is to confront and thwart the president at every turn.

For example, the Secretary of State does not set her own foreign policy; she implements the foreign policy of the president. But does the incoming Attorney General believe he and his hirees set legal policy, and to hell with the president?

Maybe I'm just paranoid; but when both the Times and AP simultaneously write entire stories gushing over how many concessions the Attorney-General designate has already made to Democratic senators on the opening day of his confirmation hearing, I don't feel easy or comfortable that we've made a good swap.

On the other hand, maybe Mukasey is just saying whatever it takes to get confirmed, and he doesn't really mean it... in which case, he's a liar. As Sancho Panza says in Man of La Mancha, "Whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, it's going to be bad for the pitcher."

So I would appreciate it if conservatives could please tell me why it was such a wonderful, productive idea to force Alberto Gonzales out -- if his replacement sees his primary role as saying "No" to the president whenever Pat Leahy frowns.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 17, 2007, at the time of 2:50 PM

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The following hissed in response by: hunter

Doesn't appear that way, thanks be.
Look, just like on domestic intell programs and the Schip, and bashing the war, the dhimmies know they that the national interest is not served by either retreat on security, defeat in the war, or bloviation in the domestic programs.
But they ride these things hard in the public square so that their sheep feel well fed.
Leahy knows we are not torturing, nor have tortured, anyone. He is simply performing a vaudeville for the idiots who give him money. Leahy knows that if we treat terrorists and non-American nationals captured overseas as if they were a suburban kid swiping cars, we will suffer huge losses. The dhimmies know, as their votes prove every time when it counts, that we must win in Iraq.
Ditto for intel programs.
The dhimmies just want the donations that come in from pretending that these things are wicked and that they are fighting them.
IOW, the democrats are not seriously trying to do anything at all in this ocuntry. They are simply mugging for the camera to the entertainment of the extreme reactoinaries who they beleive sustain them.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2007 6:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: Rovin

Memo from Mukasey to Leahy after confirmation:

Mr. Leahy,

Thank you for your support in my nomination process. Now take all of my testimony and pass it on to Sandy Berger for shredding duty.

P.S. The President is still my boss.

Best Regards,
Michael Mukasey

The above hissed in response by: Rovin [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2007 8:05 AM

The following hissed in response by: Athos

There is a very dangerous precedent being set here. Constitutionally, the Executive has the rights accorded by winning the election, to select and nominate those they believe are best to represent the viewpoints and execute the directions of the Chief Executive. For Congress to require either a choice in allegience between they and the Executive from a nominee in order for the nominee to be confirmed is a slippery slope that should not be approached.

For a nominee to posture themselves as having more allegience to the Congress that confirmed them or to gain that confirmation as opposed to the Chief Executive whose policies he is supposed to execute to the best of their ability is a person irretrievably damaged from the get-go.

What the left in Congress attempts to sow, they will reap in the future.....to the detriment of the country.

The above hissed in response by: Athos [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2007 10:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

I did not take it that way at all.
I read his comments as meaning he would be guided by the law. That is what it has been for everyonein the Bush Admin. If only the same had applied to his predecessor.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2007 12:40 PM

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