Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Schumer and "A Vote for Justice"

Sen. Chuck Schumer has an op-ed in todays NYT explaining his support for Judge Mukasey to be our next Attorney General of the USA.
Should we reject Judge Mukasey, President Bush has said he would install an acting, caretaker attorney general who could serve for the rest of his term without the advice and consent of the Senate. To accept such an unaccountable attorney general, I believe, would be to surrender the department to the extreme ideology of Vice President Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington.
We've already lived through the terms of two "unaccountable" AG's, John Ashcroft and Al Gonzales. We can make it through another 15 months with another "unaccountable" AG. Besides, there are zero assurances that Judge Mukasey will be accountable just because he says he will. Gonzales made you think he would be accountable too. He lied to Congress. By the way, how is that sopoena to bring Gonzales before the committee coming along?
Judge Mukasey’s refusal to state that waterboarding is illegal was unsatisfactory to me and many other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Congress is now considering — and I hope we will soon pass — a law that would explicitly ban the use of waterboarding and other abusive interrogation techniques. And I am confident that Judge Mukasey would enforce that law.

So Sen. Ted Kennedy sponsored an anti-torture amendment in 2006 and you supported it. Now there is a similar bill in this Congress. I guess that law isn't on the books is it? Otherwise Judge Mukasey would be able to render an opinion whether waterboarding is illegal or not. There are already numerous treaties, laws and regulations concerning torture. What about those?
On Friday, he personally made clear to me that if the law were in place, the president would have no legal authority to ignore it — not even under some theory of inherent authority granted by Article II of the Constitution, as Vice President Cheney might argue.
Pres. Bush has a habit of ignoring laws he doesn't like. He loves signing statements that exempt him from following laws passed by Congress. An anti-torture bill has next to zero chance of ever being passed in this Congress. And, if somehow it does get passed, I predict that Bush would veto it.

Even without the proposed law in place, Judge Mukasey would be more likely than a caretaker attorney general to find on his own that waterboarding and other techniques are illegal. Indeed, his written answers to our questions have demonstrated more openness to ending the practices we abhor than either of this president’s previous attorney general nominees have had.

Whoop-de-do! Judge Mukasey will be more likely than a caretaker AG to find on his own that waterboarding is illegal. Sen. Schumer, have you heard that the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale? Remember that old Bush saying about "fool me once".....?

Sen. Schumer was an early supporter of the nomination of Judge Mukasey for AG. I felt the same way. But that was before Judge Mukasey said he didn't know if waterboarding was illegal. I changed my mind, Sen. Schumer won't.

I understand and respect my colleagues who believe that Judge Mukasey’s view on torture should trump all other considerations. For the Senate to make a bold declaration about torture and waterboarding by rejecting him is appealing. But if we block Judge Mukasey’s nomination and then learn in six months that waterboarding has continued unabated, that victory will seem much less valuable.

What if Judge Mukasey is confirmed as Ag and torture continues? Well, at least maybe we will get a "depoliticized Justice Department". A "depoliticized" government department in the Bush administration. Yes, when hell freezes over.

Here's what I think. Sen. Schumer was an early supporter of Judge Mukasey and now Schumer can't admit he was wrong.

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