Archive for the ‘michael mukasey’ category

The Big News Story

March 11, 2008

Yesterday and today’s headlines are all about Eliot Spitzer and his victimless “crime”.  Without passing judgment or suggesting what next steps he should take, it is odd that if he had visited a NYC hotel instead of a Washington DC one, there would be no grounds for federal charges.  Same events, different outcomes.  But that’s not the important news.

Yesterday the House of Representatives filed suit in Federal Court seeking the enforcement of subpoenas for Harriet Meyers and Josh Bolton.  This is potentially the makings of Constitutional crisis, and at the very least, whether the track record of unilateralism practiced by President George W Bush and his boss Vice Presdient Dick Cheney will be sustained.  The post Nixonian death wish to return the Executive branch to the more equal of equals has been a cardinal principle of this Administration.  Forget about wisdom and good judgment, or consideration for all of our citizens, this Administrations mantra was “we are in charge and you are not”.

On this matter (Executive Privilege), the White House has instructed Meyers and Bolton not to respond to the Congressional subpoenas.  The White House claimes they are considered close advisers to the President and therefore immune to Congressional questioning.  Strangely, the President has said he was not involved with the firing of 7 US Attorneys (the subject of the subpoenas) and therefore it is unclear what basis he has in mind for claiming executive privilege.

With the world falling in around him, I wonder whether this suit will bring about a change in attitude.

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The President’s Lawyer

March 1, 2008

Michael Mukasey has now earned the title of the President’s lawyer and has fully replaced Alberto Gonzales in this role.  It is one thing to be a loyal Republican, or a true blue conservative, but it is quite a different issue to look the other way with respect to the separation of powers and the checks and balances these separations provide.  In refusing to refer the House’s subpoenas to his Justice Department for prosecution of Josh Bolton (President Bush’s chief of staff) and Harriet Meyers (former Bush legal confidant), Mukasey has demonstrated a blind eye to the institutions that have maintained American democracy.

I am sure this is not the first error in judgement by an Attorney General.  The position is designed to sit in a delicate position.  The Attorney General is a member of the White House inner circle and at the same time, is charged to lead the Country’s legal enforcement organization.  When the Executive is without sin, there is never the chance for a conflict of interest.  But as in Watergate, the Executive is not infallible and at times, must be investigated. 

In this matter the President has invoked the claim of “executive privilege” and that these two individuals do not need to answer to Congressional inquirey simply because they are his advisors.  The underlying issue, however, is what role the White House played in firing 7 US Attornies and replacing them with Attorneys more in line with White House thinking.  To this matter the President has said on numerous occasions that he was not involved in any way.  One could reasonably conclude then that these two did not provide him any advice, so there is no basis for executive privilege.

The real game being played here is quite different.  It is called “I am the President and you are not”.  Should the next President be a Democrat, you can be sure the Republicans will howl when the Democratic President invokes executive privilege so broadly.  In the end the real losers are the American people.  Remember the last great Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, who refused to execute a White House order when he thought it was not in keeping with the American way.

Darth Speaks

February 8, 2008

CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress yesterday that “waterboarding is necessary although probably not legal”.  He confirmed that three “high value” prisoners had received this type of interrogation in 2002-2003 period.  He said it was no longer used because there were legal opinions that the technique did not comply with statutes.  Unbelievable that a four star general (Hayden) could say that waterboarding was ok unless otherwise outlawed.  So if Americans were held by another country, say Russia, Syria, or China for example, they should expect to be exposed to waterboarding if the circumstances warranted.

What has happened to common sense?  Or what about a sense of history.  Waterboarding was introduced by those wonderful worshipers of God in the Spanish Inquisition.  It is explicitely outlawed by the Geneva Convention, and anyone seeking moral high ground in dealing with other cultures would ensure that they did not practice this deranged behavior.

Remember the notion of “tone at the top” and how the example set by the senior most officials is mirrored by those lower in the organization?  Abu Ghraib was not the result of a few bad apples but instead the expected outcome of a Presidency gone astray.  And the architect of Abu Ghraib and waterboarding?  Why none other than Dick “chief chicken hawk” Cheney.

Cheney was quoted yesterday as saying waterboarding was good because it was useful in interrogating the 3 high value prisoners.  (Ends justify the means?)  Cheney speaks volumes when he speaks like this.  Forget the rule of law, it is our intentions that should count.  This is precisely the problem that has us now mired in the muck in Iraq.  Cheney and friends were sure it was the right thing to do when we illegally invaded Iraq.  He was so sure that he invaded without adequate equipment, no plan for how to win the peace and no exit strategy.  Our behavior in Iraq has been easy for other Arabs to understand.  Might makes right. 

Attorney General Mukasey

November 6, 2007

The Senate appears poised to approve the nomination of Michael Mukasey for the cabinet position of Attorney General.  The question of water boarding has been finessed with the impression that Mukasey would be inclined to swallow our two top Chicken Hawks’ rationale for why they need this un-American torture technique.  This is probably a meaningless issue except when Bush and Cheney are prosecuted for crimes against humanity they will claim a legal opinion to justify some of their acts.  The reason this is meaningless is that the issue ultimately is decided by the supreme court should the Senate and House fail to legislate an end to this procedure.

Mukesey appears to be a no nonsense person who will be able to tell the difference between a Karl Rove initiative and a non-partisan administration of justice.  There is not much time left in the Bush debacle so I would not look for any flashy initiatives.  A steady non-partisan hand will be just fine.

There is one issue, however, that may prove contentious.  Robert Gates and other sane minds are moving the Administration closer to closing Guantanamo detention center.  Since the Government has little or no case against most all the prisoners, they all will likely be moved to US soil (buying time) and would then become eligible to use the US Courts.  How hard Mulkasey plays this game could determine whether these people continue to be treated unfairly or whether he quietly enables their release and extradition.  (By now it must be clear that insurgents are like the ocean, you detain or kill some of them and like magic, more will just keep on coming).

Water Bed or Boarding?

November 1, 2007

George and Dick are worried.  The Democrats asked a simple question to Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey and he gave an indefinite answer.  He could not bring himself to say that water boarding was a form of torture.  He said if it was torture than it would be illegal but since he did not have proper security clearances, he did not know.  It is simply amazing that the Senate and Mukasey could not work out an example and he could say, “if that is what they are doing, then that is wrong”.

As things stand now, if Mukasey is approved by the Senate, George and Dick just need to keep Mukasey in the dark and they can keep boarding.  But with rising alarm at the Judge’s equivocation, the Senate may not approve him and that has George and Dick playing the fear and national security theme again. 

The Administration is built like a house of cards. 

1. The invasion of Iraq was an illegal act under International Law.

2. The Iraq War was justified in the US on false pretenses.

3. The Iraq War has been terribly mismanaged costing Americans a lot of severely wounded and dead soldiers, and cost all of us (and our grand children) a lot of money.

4. Bush and Cheney have authorized spying on Americans, have violated the Geneva Convention, have gone against the Constitutional protections of Due Process and Habeas Corpus.

5. Bush and Cheney have never had any plan to get out of Iraq and do not have one now.

6. Alberto Gonzales used the Attorney General’s office as if it were the Republican National Committee.

7. And now we have an Attorney General nominee who can not describe a degree of water boarding that would be considered torture.

This is a sorry state of affairs and the 2008 Presidential candidates need to distance themselves from this type of behavior.