Following in the foot steps of recently departed Attorney General Alberto (‘Torture is a quaint notion’) Gonzales, Mukasey testified before the Judiciary Committee on such issues as presidential power and the lawfulness of torture. According to the Washington Post
”Mukasey aroused Democrats' concerns by testifying that there may be occasions when the president's powers as commander in chief could trump a federal law* requiring that a special court approve intelligence-related wiretaps. That answer jibes with one of the legal rationales used by the Bush administration in defense of its controversial Terrorist Surveillance Program, under which the National Security Agency eavesdropped on calls between persons in the United States and those overseas without first securing a court warrant. - (*Emphasis TLS)
Mukasey also repeatedly demurred when asked whether an interrogation technique that involves simulated drowning, known as waterboarding, constitutes torture and is therefore illegal. "I don't know what's involved in the technique," Mukasey said. "If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional."
Waterboarding generally involves strapping the prisoner to a hard surface, covering his face or mouth with a cloth, and pouring water over his face to create the sensation of drowning, according to human rights groups. The practice has been prosecuted as torture in U.S. military courts since the Spanish-American War.
In the face of such testimony, Feinstein issued a statement yesterday that said that while ”…serious questions have been raised about Judge Mukasey’s views on torture and on separation of powers.” she, none the less, believes that ”…he will be a strong Attorney General and will represent the best interests of the American people.“
Likewise, Schumer, who introduced Mukasey to the Senate as a fellow New Yorker, while allowing ”This is an extremely difficult decision…”…adding Mukasey”…“is not my ideal choice.” also announced his intention to vote for Mukasey's confirmation.
Far from an ideal choice, Mukasey represents yet another dangerous afront to our civil liberties and our form of democracy. While Feinstein and Schumer have reputations for inflexibility once they have made public announcements, here is their contact information:
Judiciary Chair, Patrick Leahy has said that the vote in the committee could come as Monday or Tuesday. These senators need to know that we are counting on them to act in the best interest of our country and the rule of law.
Chad (The Left) Shue