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During the past weeks the confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee Micheal Mukasey have shed important light on exactly what kind of job he just might do in protecting the American people and defending the Constitution of the United States. Unfortunately, the answer to that question has not been very comforting.

From Human Rights Watch:

(Washington, DC, October 18, 2007) – Attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey mischaracterized US obligations on torture, wrongly suggesting that so-called "unlawful combatants" in US custody are not entitled to the humane treatment protections of the Geneva Conventions, Human Rights Watch said today. This view has been squarely rejected by the Supreme Court and should be disavowed by Mukasey as well.

Much more over the flip...

Continued...

During confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) asked whether Mukasey agreed with the US government’s top military lawyers, who have stated that interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding" (mock drowning), the use of dogs, painful stress positions, and mock executions all violate the humane treatment requirements of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. Mukasey replied that the military lawyers’ opinions, while relevant for conflicts "in the past," carry less weight when dealing with "unlawful combatants" today. He then went on to suggest that the humane treatment standards of Common Article 3 do not apply to interrogations of "unlawful combatants."

In reaction to Mukasey's testimony several Democratic Congressmen have expressed their willingness to block the nomination until Mukasey's gives them a definitive (and correct) answer.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Judge Michael Mukasey's nomination for attorney general ran into trouble Thursday when two top Senate Democrats said their votes hinge on whether he will say on the record that an interrogation technique that simulates drowning is torture.        


``It's fair to say my vote would depend on him answering that question,'' Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters late Thursday.

     
``This to me is the seminal issue,'' said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, another member of Leahy's panel. Asked if his vote depends on whether Mukasey equates waterboarding with torture, Durbin answered: ``It does.''

     

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said his support could be in doubt over the same issue.

     

``I think if he doesn't change his direction in that regard, he could have at least one concern and that's me,'' Reid told reporters.

   Leahy has refused to set a date for a vote on Mukasey's nomination until he clarifies his answer to that question

This morning Senator John McCain  also stated his strong disappointment with Mukasey's testimony although he stopped short of being willing to block the nomination based on this question.

McCain: Anyone who says they don't if waterboarding is torture or not has no experience in the conduct of warefare or national security.  This is a fundamental about America.  Isn't isn't about an interrogation technique, it isn't about whether someone is harmed or not - it's about what kind of a nation we are.

Stephanapolous: Will Mr. Mukasey have to say clearly that he believes waterboarding is torture in order to get your vote?

I can’t be that absolute. But I want to know his answer. I want to know his answer. Obviously, you judge a candidate for office or nominee for office on the entire record. But this is a very important issue to me.

The fact is that Mr. Mukasey's statements to Congress on the issue of the Geneva Conventions are grossly incorrect. Last year in a 5-3 decision the Supreme Court established that Geneva does apply to so-called "Enemy Combatants." In making this statement Mukasey betrays a common deceit of the right in their argument that "Geneva doesn't apply" simply because al Qeada does not wear uniforms or insignia - they simultaneously admit that America may very well have commited "grave breaches" of Geneva in their treatment. Breaches severe enough to subject Administration Officials to War Crimes prosecution.

Further the Geneva Conventions, which under the establishment clause is considered equal to our Constitution and Laws, contains a catch-all clause which states that any combatant whose status remains "undetermined" is to be treated as fully covered by the conventions until a tribunal to determine their status has been completed.

Geneva Article 5:
Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal

The question of whether such breaches have or hadn't occured was answered succintly when it was revealed that the CIA had finally banned Waterboarding last year - in the process admitting that they'd been doing it all along.

 

The controversial interrogation technique known as water-boarding, in which a suspect has water poured over his mouth and nose to stimulate a drowning reflex, has been banned by CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, current and former CIA officials tell ABCNews.com.

     

The officials say Hayden made the decision at the recommendation of his deputy, Steve Kappes, and received approval from the White House to remove water-boarding from the list of approved interrogation techniques first authorized by a presidential finding in 2002.

Since 2002 this practice has been standard operation proceedure for the CIA Detention program, and although it has been since halted - several other "techniques" which were specifically authorized by the President which may be similarly egregious apparently remain in use. The question of weather any of this is "torture" or not is rather easy to determine, all we have to do is look at who has been historically using these techniques.

Waterboarding Table used by the Khmer Rouge

Artist Rendition of Waterboarding techniques used in  Chad.

This kind of practice continues to the day around the globe, and not just to "enemy combatants" but to political dissenters and dissidents.

 

Across the globe, men and women are pushing for greater personal and political freedom and for the adoption of democratic institutions. They are striving to secure what President Bush calls "the non-negotiable demands of human dignity."

   

Despite personal risk and against great odds, courageous individuals and nongovernmental groups expose human rights abuses. They seek to protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, workers, and women, and to stop the trafficking in human beings. They work to build vibrant civil societies, ensure free and fair elections, and establish accountable, law-based democracies.

   

These impatient patriots are redefining the limitations of what was previously thought to be possible. Indeed, in the span of a few generations freedom has spread across the developing world, communist dictatorships have collapsed, and new democracies have risen. The rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are protected more fully and by more countries than ever before.

   

This noble work continues - but it is not yet complete and it faces determined opponents. Not surprisingly, those who feel threatened by democratic change resist those who advocate and act for reform. Over the past year, we have seen attempts to harass and intimidate human rights defenders and civil society organizations and to restrict or shut down their activities. Unjust laws have been wielded as political weapons against those with independent views. There also have been attempts to silence dissenting voices by extralegal means.

   

Whenever non-governmental organizations and other human rights defenders are under siege, freedom and democracy are undermined. The world's democracies must defend the defenders. That is one of the primary missions of our diplomacy today, and we hope that the Department of State's County Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006 will help to further this effort. With these thoughts, I hereby submit these reports to the United States Congress.

   

Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State 2007

Would that our own Department of State were to employ such high standards of Human Rights in our own country?Instead we hear the oft repeated, and well debunked, refain that "America does not Torture."  Amnesty International certainly isn't convinced.

 

(Washington, DC) - Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA's executive director, issued the following statement in response to President Bush's statement earlier today that the United States does not torture people:

   

"The Bush administration continues to astonish. Its own State Department has labeled waterboarding torture when it applies to other countries. Yet in President Bush's legal wonderland, waterboarding is renamed an enhanced interrogation technique. President Bush continues to assert that his administration is complying with U.S. and international law, yet every available fact has proven the contrary. Torture by any other name is still torture - a new name does not make the practice acceptable or even palatable."

Contrast what Amnesty International says about other forms of Mock Execution - which is what Waterboard truly is - when it's in used in countries such as Montenego.

In May, following a 2005 visit to Serbia and Montenegro, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture reported that it had received numerous allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by police officers. The majority of cases reportedly occurred at the time of arrest or during the first hours of detention at police stations, apparently to extract confessions.

Abuses reported included a mock execution in which a gun was placed in a detainee's mouth. Baseball bats and garden tools associated with reports of ill-treatment were found in Bar and Budva police stations.

 

• On 9 September, 17 men of ethnic Albanian origin, including three US citizens, were arrested and reportedly racially abused, ill-treated and, in some cases, tortured by police officers, during arrest, in court and at Podgorica police station. The men were transferred to Spuû prison on 12 September and 14 of them remained in detention at the end of the year. On 7 December, 18 men, including five US citizens, were indicted for conspiracy, "terrorism" and armed insurrection. An internal investigation was opened into complaints of ill-treatment by the police lodged on behalf of seven of the men.

And the U.S. State Deptartment's view of these incidents?

According to some of those involved, police beat citizens and foreigners whom they detained in the course of a September 9 raid in Tuzi. An internal police investigation ended inconclusively. Authorities stated that the raid, which took place a day before Assembly elections, foiled a terrorist plot and reported they had found a large weapons stash and plans to attack government buildings. Some opponents of the government asserted that the raid was politically motivated (those apprehended were associated with an Albanian nationalist organization).

  The investigation by the minister of interior and supreme state prosecutor into police beatings of prisoners in the main penitentiary in September 2005 concluded that police did not exceed their authority. There was no public reaction to the report's conclusion, although after the raid several prisoners were sent to the hospital with severe injuries.

Interesting that the Rice State Dept seems to take the police side of the argument completely at face value, even when the "foreigners" allegedly detaineed were American. People went to the hospital, but there weren't any "beatings". Right.

What about in Angola?  Amnesty International's version of events.

The government said that fighting had ended in Cabinda, an Angolan enclave situated between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo. However, an estimated 30,000 government soldiers reportedly maintained a repressive presence, detaining and assaulting people suspected of supporting the Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave (Frente de Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda, FLEC), looting goods and crops, and causing villagers to flee to other areas.

Human rights workers reported that soldiers based in Nkuto, Buco-Zau municipality, frequently detained people suspected of supporting FLEC. More than 60 women were reportedly briefly held in January and accused of taking food to FLEC. Some were beaten. Mateus Bulo, aged 66, and his daughter were among a group of people arrested in May. Mateus Bulo was subjected to a mock execution, then he and his daughter were both beaten with sticks before being allowed to return to their fields.

And State's?

  Domestic media and local human rights activists reported cases of police resorting to excessive force, including unlawful killings. In February the independent press reported that a youth suspected of gang activity was killed in a Luanda precinct. Police largely viewed extrajudicial killings as an alternative to relying on the country's ineffective judicial system. In May citizens reported that the body of a pregnant woman was discovered after her arrest by national police in Luanda Norte. These cases were reportedly still under investigation at year's end; however, national authorities were generally reluctant to disclose investigation results. In June human rights activists reported that police "accidentally killed" a disabled man during an abusive interrogation; the responsible officers were dismissed from the national police the same month.

   

A Memorandum of Understanding for Peace and Reconciliation for Cabinda province, signed on August 1, largely brought an end to the insurgency in the province. As a result of this and an FAA policy of cooperation rather than repression, there was only one report during the year, in November, of an unlawful killing in Cabinda that may be linked to FAA soldiers. The case remained under investigation by both military and civil authorities. There were also confirmed reports of 12 small clashes in the enclave between the FAA and the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) in the period immediately surrounding the signing of the memorandum. Four civilians were reportedly killed in these clashes between FLEC soldiers and FAA forces. Since early September there were no confirmed reports of armed conflict.

Again, this report is similar but again downplays the level and intensity of human rights violations taking place as a result of authoritarian abuse, and belies all of Rice's flowery rhetoric about our enduring support for those allegedly "non-negotiable demands of human dignity."

These are clearly extreme examples, but honestly they aren't all that more extreme than similar events which have occured in the U.S. for decades on the streets of L.A., Detroit, Philadelphia and during Rudy Giuliani's stint as mayor of New York.

The naked duplicity and failure of the United States to lead in this area sends a very wrong message to those who would chose to hold on to the reins of power by force, intimidation and oppression. It tells them not that their time is drawing to close - but rather, that the time for brutality is truly at hand. The one nation with the greatest claim as a supporter of democracy and freedom has apparently joined the other team.

We can not set an example for the world, while playing semantic games with who is or isn't protected by the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION of Human Rights. If Universal doesn't mean Universal, if all doesn't mean ALL, then no one is truly covered.

And if the man who would seek to become the Top Law Enforcement Officer of the most powerful nation on the earth doesn't know the law, then he certainly should not be handed the reins of power.

Vyan

Originally posted to Vyan on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 12:35 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Aren't you the optimist! (4+ / 0-)

      Although I am surprised the fast track to confirmation wasn't greased, there is no doubt of the confirmation's  inevitability.

      Thanks for trying.

      •  Why is it inevitable? (6+ / 0-)

        I'm getting so tired of so-called "progressives" laying down and conceding defeat. It's like a side sport around here, standing on the sidelines and giggling "Hee hee, look at these naive fools, actually believing that we're not all doomed! Hee hee!".

        Whatever. Knee-jerk cynicism is easy, lazy, unimpressive and unhelpful.

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        by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:17:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Totally agree, Kovie! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          macmcd, kovie, greenearth

          I think part of what makes it seem so "clever" to those who spout this crap, is that the overwhelming majority of them probably have no living memory of a time when they or their relatives were not "free" - in the standard middle-American usage of the word.

          I would be shocked if any children or grandchildren of Auschwitz survivors, or of WWII French Resistance fighters, or even 1960s civil rights marchers, were to log onto DailyKos and post such defeatist "humor."

          It's almost as if the fight for political freedom is seen as nothing more than a Nintendo computer game.

          •  I think that some of them (3+ / 0-)

            are--or at least claim to be, if some of their responses to me whenever I slam down one of these comments, of which there are way too many here, are to be believed--older people who once "believed" in our democracy, but have lost faith in it.

            Maybe, maybe not. My belief is that if your belief in our democracy was so weak to begin with, it was never really sincere. Fairweather democrats (or Democrats).

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            by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:40:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You are incorrect in your (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            greenearth

            characterization of me.

            Not that it matters, but if you think the path our country is taking is toward something good, more power to you. I reside in a reality based world.

            •  Typical (0+ / 0-)

              We're going off a cliff and there's nothing that we can do about it. So reality-based.

              I never said that "the path our country is taking is toward something good". You're putting words in my mouth--which is, again, typical of people with your sort of mindset, who tend to see things in sensationalist or exaggerated terms. I.e. things are never just bad--which of course they are--but rather irreversibly catastrophic.

              And for the record--and I've stated this in so many words countless times--yes, we are in a very, very serious crisis that could have us all going off a cliff soon. I don't dispute that. What I do dispute is that all hope is lost, this is inevitable, and there's nothing that we can do about it, which your attitude on Mukasey pretty much says.

              "Reality", which you seem to know more about than the rest of us (another typical utterance from people such as yourself), is actually not as black and white as you want to believe it is. The fact that we've been on a bad path for so long might mean that we're headed towards a cliff (which I agree that we are), but it does NOT mean that we're bound to go over it. Ever heard of the term "back from the brink"?

              But if you want to continue to believe in inevitable defeat, and think that that makes you more "reality-based", be my guest. Sure saves you from a lot of trouble.

              0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

              by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 04:12:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Forgive me (0+ / 0-)

                Your statement that those who express disgust with the leadership must not understand how bad this were at various points in history implied you believe what is happening will not lead to catastrophe on a historic scale. Since apparently that isn't what you believe, please explain what you do think will happen.

                We disagree.

                Your insults will not prove your point, in actually they only demonstrate you have no other way to defend your position.

                •  Again with the black and white thinking (0+ / 0-)

                  I.e. that because things are bad and headed in the wrong direction, the only possible conclusion is that we're doomed. It's not your worry and fear that this may happen that bothers me. That part's totally reality-based, and if it leads to strong preventive action, commendable. It's your conviction that this WILL happen, and that there's nothing that we can do about it (your words, not mine), that does.

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                  by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 07:58:15 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  It's a defense mechanism (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greenearth

          If I'm prepared for the certain outcome, I'm not as disappointed. They've trained me not to hope.

          By the way, I'm sick of so-called progressives enabling the failure of Democratic leadership with endless excuses. So at least our peeves are reciprocated.

          •  This is called defeatism (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Miles in WesternWA

            Which, more than anything else, is why people actually end up being defeated. If you're convinced that you're going to lose, you usually do.

            Past might be prologue, but attitude is key. I'm not saying that staving off defeat is just a matter of attitude--of course it isn't, no kumbaya here, we're up against some major obstacles, including many Dems, I realize--but without it, nothing else really matters.

            One of the chief ways that the other side keeps winning is by convincing our side that we're going to lose no matter what we do. And until fairly recently, it worked. I'm trying to fight that. Defeat is not inevitable (to co-opt the other side's mantra about Iraq), so long as will-sapping defeatism is not allowed to permeate our side.

            That's my entire point. Think about it. This is not personal. I'm sure that deep down, you mean well. You've just lost the fight. I suggest that you find it. Or re-find it.

            I'm sure that it's in you.

            0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

            by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 04:20:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Attitude (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kovie

              Which, more than anything else, is why people actually end up being defeated. If you're convinced that you're going to lose, you usually do.

              Thanks for putting this out there in black and white, Kovie.  It's easy to assume that that all progressives "get this," but evidently not.

              It works the same way in military combat.  If you don't have self-confidence and belief in the justness of your cause, it's hard to summon the will to fight against all odds and prevail.

              •  Actually, I'd put the quotation marks around (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Miles in WesternWA

                "progressives". IMO you can't be one if you see only doom and gloom and defeat. Being a progressive is literally, by definition, incompatible with such attitudes.

                One can remain positive even when the odds are against you. In fact, that's precisely when you SHOULD remain positive. Anyone can be upbeat when things are going well.

                Glad to see that some of us "get that". :-)

                0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

                by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 08:01:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  To answer your question re inevitability (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greenearth

          Past is prologue. There will be huffing, buffing and a confirmation. Bet the farm.

    •  A tip for you (5+ / 0-)

      But major flames for Mukasey. He's a stealth authoritarian wearing a "moderate" mask.

      Figures that he's a buddy of Rudy's. Damn, this all makes sense now.

      Thanks, Vyan. This is hugely important.

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      by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:14:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Torturing regime (15+ / 0-)

    That's what we have in charge.

    Use Tor and PGP on the net. (google it)

    by fugue on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 12:39:31 PM PDT

    •  tell Feinstein (9+ / 0-)

      it's the Democrats like Feinstein who somehow betrays a 'mixed' agenda we need to target, and call for another candidate if she doesn't act like a Democrat and  listen to her constituents. She's gotten a free pass, voting for all sorts of terrible judges and Bush nominees, and it's time to shut her down or kick her out.  

      •  Couldn't agree more (3+ / 0-)

        I think Feinstein is just a terrible senator for Democrats, and she gets a free pass from the left, far too much of the time.

        No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood

        by ResponsibleAccountable on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 02:26:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, she's pretty awful (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greenearth, Miles in WesternWA

        Is she just dumb, cowardly or blase, or is she in on the con? She voted for Southwick recently without putting up any resistance. She does this all the time, asking a few rote questions, then praising the nominee for being such a great person. Her good buddy Herb Kohl is exactly the same way, Rockefeller too on the intel committee. What is it about super-wealthy senators tending to be such BAD senators? I'm inclined to believe that they do this more because they just don't care, since they're shielded from bad policy and public officials by their vast wealth, and don't want to take any risks, than because they're in on the con. But who knows, maybe they are. Or maybe they're just dumb, which they can afford to be given their wealth--which they typically did not earn.

        Yet another argument in favor of the estate tax. Accumulated, dynastic wealth just ends up hurting society and giving undeserving individuals way too much power. Just look at Scaife, Olin, Bradley, Coors, etc. And, of course, Bush. Clearly, Dems have their own version of this, and it's hurting the party, and country.

        0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

        by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:27:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nasty, I agree (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          macmcd, kovie, greenearth

          I'm inclined to believe that they do this more because they just don't care, since they're shielded from bad policy and public officials by their vast wealth, and don't want to take any risks, than because they're in on the con. But who knows, maybe they are. Or maybe they're just dumb, which they can afford to be given their wealth--which they typically did not earn.

          Yet another argument in favor of the estate tax....

          I generally agree that they flat-out DO NOT CARE.

          A better solution, I feel, would be to have better outreach programs from progressive political parties, so that ordinary voters understand WHY a vote for Friendly MultiMillionaire Bob with the 100-watt smile, who's running for Senator, is really not in their best interest...

        •  she's switched (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie, greenearth, Miles in WesternWA

          but not saying she has. She actually supports bush, I think she has some idea that she understands middle east politics, and the rest of us don't.  My joke is she's in her own party, the "I know better" party. I hope the party puts another one up in the primary, my guess is she'd lose big time. I'd also like to see a debate, although she'd lie.  She's closer to Liebeman than she lets on, I'd guess she'd run as an independent if someone else won the primary.  the narcissism of some elected representatives is beyond the pale.  Like, they owe nothing to us, their supporters and voters?  Guess not.  

          •  So she fancies herself one of Fred Hiatt's (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            greenearth

            "Serious People", i.e. those Very Very Serious and Thoughtful People who understand how the world really works in a way that us DFH's (including obvious idiots like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Chalmers Johnson and Kevin Phillips) couldn't possibly begin to understand, and thus must be treated with condescension and be patronized.

            Why are we so thick as to not "get" that Bush is actually not such a bad guy. Sure, he's made some bad mistakes, but don't we all? He means well, and we shouldn't oppose him so much, and try to work with him as much as we can. Can't we all stop fighting like little children and just all get along? Mamma Diane knows best, children!

            On a side note, being Jewish myself, I am always saddened and infuriated whenever a leader who also happens to be Jewish exhibits such shamelessly cowardly and weak "leadership", because it was precisely such weak leadership that allowed many more Jews to go to their deaths in the Holocaust without trying to escape or fight, than should and could have been the case. I grew up wondering--as did everyone else I knew--why those Jews didn't try to escape or fight, and why their leaders urged them to cooperate with the Nazis. And now I see the same cowardice, weakness, cluelessness and apathy on the part of people like Feinstein, Kohl, Lieberman, etc., and it sickens me.

            People like her are simply unfit to lead. What a disgrace, if she votes for Mukasey. He shows every sign of being a latter-day version of those "moderate" lawyers and judges who ended up enabling the Nazi's implementation of fascism. He CLEARLY must be stopped, and if she doesn't vote against him, that tells me all I need to know about her.

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            by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:54:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  wow, that's scathing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kovie

              Do you live in California? Would you run against her?  Oh, she'll vote  for him, she's really switched sides.  

              •  Nope, 2 states north (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                anna shane

                And while I don't think that anyone's likely to beat her, pressure can still be applied to make it very uncomfortable for her to keep siding with Bush. I'm sure that there are reasons that she's doing this that she'd rather not get too much press. I understand that her husband's a defense contractor of some sort. Hmm. I hope that some hard-working investigative journalists at the SFC or some other paper or media outlet are looking into this. It warrants a lot more scrutiny.

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                by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 07:53:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this. If the AG designate can't (20+ / 0-)

    admit that waterboarding is torture, he should not be heading the Justice Department. It's that simple.

  •  Any count on Senators (10+ / 0-)

    who will oppose him? Sanders has publicly announced he is a "nay."

  •  I'm just amazed that (12+ / 0-)

    Bush can call waterboarding and "enhanced interrogation technique" with a straight face.  And the MSM won't challenge him.  It's TORTURE for God's sake.  why do we let him get away with defining it as anything else?

  •  Exellent review -- recommended (20+ / 0-)

    Any recantation by Mukasey now isn't worth the paper it's written on (or worth listening to).

    He's shown his true colors. Let's be completely clear: we don't need him to mouth platitudes. He's one with the war party and the dictatorial powers consolidating themselves in what was once democratic America.

    Stop the nomination. Vote no on any motion bringing Mukasey forward.

  •  Very excellen diary, Vyan. (8+ / 0-)

    I say block his ass and let the next person think about how they had better toe the line on real answers concerning justice in this country.

    Another day, another devalued Dollar. -6.00, -6.21

    by funluvn1 on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 01:03:28 PM PDT

  •  This is outrageous (12+ / 0-)

    that Mukasey is still being considered after his testimony.  The terribly sad thing is that nearly all of the senators who voice concern are going to flip and vote to approve his appointment.  I'd bet money McCain will, and he of all people knows how wrong it is.  I'll certainly contact my senators and ask that they vote against Mukasey, but I know it's an exercise in futility.  Why, why, why are these people still giving Bush everything he wants, knowing what the outcome will be.

  •  True (3+ / 0-)

    Don't need any more torture apologists, especially when they lie about it.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 01:22:19 PM PDT

  •  Hope he can be stopped! n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joynow, greenearth, State Department
    •  Isn't it funny that we "Hope" (3+ / 0-)

      he can be stopped or that bush isn't granted more and lasting spying powers with immunity for telecoms or that supplemental military funding isn't granted without question (like the emergency funding to update for the heavy bunker busting bombs)...

      we hope these things and oh if only Democrats had the majority.
      The nightmare is that they DO. I didn't imagine this crap back in 2006. I'm not naive but I believed we'd at least stand up...
      Perhaps they would if they didn't live in fear that the president and other republicans would call them NAMES. GASP. Because God knows it would be hard to defend opposing the unpopular president when all you have on your side is truth, the Constitution and 70% of public opinion.

      Our party is still in control and the best we have is a vague hope that huge wrongs will not be allowed...things in their power to stop.

      The only thing that has made me smile about this was when one of the front page diarists ended a little rant with "Hey Dems, give me your lunch money".

      It is about that bad.

      And ya, I hope he can be stopped too.

      •  It is infuriating. I agree. (4+ / 0-)

        The Dems have a majority, yes, but it is a razor thin majority.  And, our side has some very conservative members who side with bushCo way more often than they should.  Pepper in those who lack the courage to take a stand, for fear that the corporate arm of our gov't won't contribute to their campaign in retaliation, and our majority is wiped out.

        It's sad; it's frustrating; it's pathetic too, in a way.  All I can say is that we have a LOT more work to do if we're to affect real change in our country.  I only hope we have the time and opportunity to do so.

  •  This is a test for Democrats (3+ / 0-)

    They've been selling themselves short on everything from the war through the environment to consumer protection. If they can put the kabosh on this, they might deserve re-election in 2008.

    Who knows, it might even lead to better things once they realize they can stop Bush.

    Might.

    •  I think that's part of why (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Existentialist, greenearth
      the Dem leadership is reluctant to fight these kinds of things using full-court press. If they actually started to do a good job of fulfilling their oath and protecting our rights, the public might actually start to expect them to do it all the time.

      And that would mean more power for us and less for them, not to mention it being bad for bidness.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 01:47:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps the Dems are coming out of their (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Existentialist, greenearth

      abusive fog.  They've acted like battered spouses for so long; yet I think that the SCHIP fight, and how georgie is visibly and angrily unhinged over it, maybe (just maybe) the Dems are getting a much needed boost.  I hope they collectively feel the empowerment and start using it in all other areas, namely this nomination!

  •  Chuck Schumer must have egg on his face (6+ / 0-)

    Wasn't he trying to shepherd this nomination through committee?  I could be wrong here ...

  •  Rejecting Mukasey was a no-brainer from the start (6+ / 0-)

    and it was ridiculous that any Democrat spoke admiringly of him when he was nominated.

    "Best we can hope for"... bullshit!

    If he goes through it'll be another astounding failure by the "new" majority.

    "You can't be neutral on a moving train." - Howard Zinn

    by bigchin on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 01:48:20 PM PDT

  •  "'why does Mukasey hate civil rights" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, greenearth, JML9999

    and human beings of all colours and creeds, is he trying to be the new Halloween monster.
    Its sad when supposedly intelligent and educated people like Mukasey endorse torturing children and helpless victims.
    No matter how awful the suspected terrorist or bad guy, when they are in custody and in a helpless position facing torture by captors they become victims.

    Shame on you Mukasey, go crawl back under your stone.

    Day after day, alone on the Hill, the man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still.

    by Ferrofluid on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 01:48:48 PM PDT

  •  Can somebody remind me why we need a AG (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, greenearth

    at all at this point. Why the shrubhouse can't get by with a Junior under flunky General for the remaining 449 days?

    Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

    by JML9999 on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 01:50:54 PM PDT

  •  but isn't the antichrist the acting AG (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, greenearth

    until someone else is appointed?

    ---
    If you have a boss, you need a union.
    --Steve Earle

    by VelvetElvis on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 01:56:25 PM PDT

  •  Agreed - Excellent diary!!! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Existentialist, greenearth

    2007 Bronfman Fellow - Judaism and Legal Theory New York University

    by Shane Hensinger on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 02:01:52 PM PDT

  •  I know the diary is about torture... (5+ / 0-)

      but I threw down the confirmation when I heard him say about warrantless surveillance that it was not a crime if when the President ordered a violation of the 1978 FISA law in 2001, if it was done within his rights as a President during a time of war. Based upon national security, the President could then be above the law. I thought the Church Commission dealt with exactly this problem. There is no headroom for anyone... I repeat ANYONE.. to violate a statue that is written that says the "exclusive" method for wiretapping to be done of foreign to domestic intercepts is through the FISA Court. Any violation of this law by corporation or person is a felony and $10,000 fine per incident.
       This elimination of the "rule of law" as some quaint passage of legal concepts is bizarre.
       Great diary!

    Eisenhower- "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage."

    by NC Dem on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 02:08:26 PM PDT

  •  Yes, another brilliant move (3+ / 0-)

    by the Democrats.  Nominate someone for AG who will be sure to block all requests for documents and testimony, refuse to prosecute loyalists for contempt, and generally screw up everthing you are trying to do to get this runaway train of an executive branch de-railed.  Perfect.  How could it possibly go wrong?

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 02:10:21 PM PDT

  •  not a lawyer but as a soldier I was taught that (6+ / 0-)

    waterboarding was illegal  right after the Army did it to us in SERE training so we would know what to expect if we were ever captured   knowing that our own Army was doing it to us, did not make it a more pleasant experience  I felt like I was drowning that was at 18 and before I had a bad heart  I can't begin to think what it would do to a 30-50 year old

    bottom line young soldiers are taught it's a war crime now why are experienced lawyers playing word games about what torture is

    after WW2 we sent Japanese soldiers to jail for 15 years for waterboarding Americans  I bet in the Hague  anyone even Americans could be convicted for war crimes if they water boarded anyone and it could be proved

    I bet Dick and Rumsfeld and W quit overseas travel after Jan 2009

  •  Too much is on the line (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    testvet6778, greenearth, Empower Ink

    I could be wrong, but isn't the AG the head of the DOJ? And...
    Hasn't Abu Gonzo pretty much shredded the reputation/validity of the DOJ with all of his antics? And...
    Won't the new AG have to be in charge of a massive cleanup effort because of Gonzo?  And...
    Won't the clean up effort involve getting to bottom of some VERY serious and nefarious deeds committed by Abu Gonzo and his clan of thugs, including the firing of federal prosecutors?  And...
    If the new AG is yet another crony appointed for the specific reason of burying critical information, manipulating the official story, and helping to make sure that nobody among bushCo is held accountable, then another coup will have been committed upon our country; and by the so-called "leaders" of our country!  Could the Dems really live with the knowledge that they enabled something this sinister to occur right under their noses?

    I'm sorry.  Too much is on the line for the Democratic Party to concede to anyone other than a straight-forward, honest, ethical nominee.  Why can't Patrick Fitzgerald be considered for this post?  

  •  Executive power, not torture,is fundamental issue (4+ / 0-)

    Appalling as it is that Mukasey refuses to characterize waterboarding as torture, it is a subsidiary issue to the fundamental reason he should not be confirmed as Attorney General.

    Sen. Sanders cuts to the heart of it:

    Mukasey should not be confirmed because he could not muster a simple, straightforward answer at his confirmation hearing when he was asked the simple, straightforward question: Is the president of the United States required to obey federal statutes?

    "That would have to depend," he weaseled, "on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country."

    I'm very afraid that for at least some of the ten Senators who signed the letter, getting an acceptable answer from Mukasey will give them cover to vote for his confirmation.

    No one who will not clearly state that the president is not above the law should be confirmed as Attorney General.  Period.

  •  Mukasey Is Giuliani's Minion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenearth, Aaa T Tudeattack

    It seems to me no one has mentioned much, or at all, that Mukasey is Giuliani's person, going way back - unless I somehow have not noticed.

    Giuliani's Mukasey

  •  Great Diary - Richardson is Opposed to Mukasey (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shaking the Tree, greenearth

    Waterboarding is torture, and anyone who is unwilling to identify it as such is not qualified to be the chief legal officer of the United States of America. If I were in the U.S. Senate, I would vote against Mukasey unless he denounces such specific forms of torture.

    That is what Richardson stated on October 19th. See http://www.richardsonforpresident.co...

    Let's put pressure on All Dems to oppose Mukasey.

    Bill Richardson: "Get out now. Get all our troops out now. It is the only right and responsible choice."

    by Stephen Cassidy on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 02:54:42 PM PDT

    •  but he gave Gonzo a pass (0+ / 0-)

      It's great that Bill Richardson has come out in opposition to the appointment of Micheal Mukasey as Attorney General.

      Too bad that his judgement about the "likable" Alberto Gonzales was not as sound.  

      Five years after Alberto Gonzales penned the infamous memo in which he referred to the Geneva Convention as "quaint", Bill Richardson said:

      "The only reason I'm not there [calling for Gonzo's resignation] is because [Alberto Gonzales is] Hispanic, and I know him and like him.  It's because he's Hispanic."

      — Bill Richardson
      April, 17 2007  

      Richardson made his plea to give our Attroney General "the benefit of the doubt" three months after AG2 provided the following testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

      Alberto Gonzales: The fact that the Constitution—again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme—

      Arlen Specter: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

      I know that you've argued that Richardson showed leadership by standing with AG2 at a time that most progressive Democrats we're calling for Gonzo's resignation.  I still contend that the position taken by Richardson had nothing to do with due process and everything to do with pandering to conservative Hispanic voters.


      `````
      peace

      •  If your house was burning down (0+ / 0-)

        and it was saved by firefighters from New Mexico sent by Richardson to California, I'm sure we would see same dribble from you.  

        Richardson was the first of the Democrats running for President to come out against Mukasey.  Richardson is calling for all U.S. troops out of Iraq now.  None of that apparently means anything to you.  

        Bill Richardson: "Get out now. Get all our troops out now. It is the only right and responsible choice."

        by Stephen Cassidy on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 08:49:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't trust Richardson. (0+ / 0-)

          You already know that - I don't trust Richardson because he misled New Mexicans about WIPP - That was a very big deal to me.

          Even though you cite an interview about Richardson calling for patience and diplomacy before the invasion of Iraq you and your candidate both ignore the fact that he also beat the drums for war  - and said at the time that had he been in congress he would have voted for the resolution to authorise the Bush Administration to use force.

          Richardson is late to the party when it comes to opposition to the occupation of Iraq.  I'm glad he finally arrived, but I see his call for the immediate redeployment of troops (something which I support) as little more than a strategic move to attract anti-war voters.

          It's easy for him to condemn Muksey - so good for Richardson.  But some of us do remember that it took Richardson years to withdraw his support for Alberto Gonzales - even though it had long been established that Gonzales had helped facillitate the use of torture on detainees by advising Bush that the Geneva Convention was "quaint".

          So three cheers for Richardson!  Hip hip hooray!  He opposed the the appointment of Robert Mukasey as A.G. after Mukasey was unwilling to call waterboarding by its rightful name - torture.  Frankly I would have been more impressed if Richardson had determined that the appointment of Mukasey was unacceptable prior to Mukasey's answers on the question of waterboarding.

          ````
          peace

  •  Another reason to block Mukasey (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, greenearth

    From his confirmation hearings several weeks ago:

    Leahy: Can a president authorize illegal conduct? Can a president put someone above the law by authorizing illegal conduct?

    Mukasey: The only way for me to respond to that in the abstract is to say that if by illegal you mean contrary to a statute, but within the authority of the president to defend the country, the president is not putting somebody above the law; the president is putting somebody within the law. Can the president put somebody above the law? No. The president doesn't stand above the law. But the law emphatically includes the Constitution. It starts with the Constitution.

    Leahy: We'll go back to this. I'm troubled by your answer. I see a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.

    Indeed. Mukasey was basically saying that the president has the power to interpret the law, and deem parts of it unconstitutional--a power that the actual constitution exclusively grants the courts. I.e. according to Mukasey, the president has an ex poste facto signing statement or line item veto power over existing law. I.e. the president is a dictator.

    Chris Dodd has already gone on record as opposing Mukasey. So has his fellow senator, Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Here's what he wrote about this in the Huff Post:

    Without diminishing that issue [torture], Mukasey's lawyerly obfuscation on the point is not the biggest or even the most basic problem I have with his nomination. There is an even more important reason why he should not become the next attorney general.

    Mukasey should not be confirmed because he could not muster a simple, straightforward answer at his confirmation hearing when he was asked the simple, straightforward question: Is the president of the United States required to obey federal statutes? "That would have to depend," he weaseled, "on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country."

    As it happens, the Supreme Court, one of those pesky other branches of government, reaffirmed just last year that the president must comply with a valid federal statute. In a case involving military commissions, the majority even took note of the fact at the time that the Justice Department "does not argue otherwise." Mukasey evidently would argue otherwise. "If Judge Mukasey cannot say plainly that the president must obey a valid statute, he ought not to be the nation's next attorney general," wrote Jed Rubenfeld, a professor of constitutional law at Yale Law School who appeared before Judge Mukasey as a prosecutor. He's got that right.

    Mukasey's dangerous, perhaps even more so than Gonzo, because he's a lot smarter and more experienced, and has been sold as a "moderate", and so will be able to slip under the lazy media's radar as he continues the effort to help BushCo evade the constitution and turn the presidency into a de facto dictatorship. He will clearly also direct the DoJ to do all that it can to obstruct congress's oversight efforts, and prevent civil litigants from successfully suing the administration and its telcom and other partners in crime.

    He cannot be allowed to become Attorney General. No one should at this point, because Bush will never nominate anyone acceptable. Not just for ideological reasons, but because he knows that an honest and competent AG would be his, Cheney's, and everyone else's demise. And he can't have that, of course. I hope that this turns into an all-out political fight, and that this time, Dems go all the way and don't back down.

    And who knows, maybe Reid will finally grow a spine. Or maybe he will be shown to simply not have one, and be unfit to be majority leader, and perhaps an effort will be started to replace him with someone who fights. Like, oh, a certain senator from CT. Or at least the current whip, Durbin. In any case, Dems need to persue this fight all the way, no matter what Bush says or does, and no matter how nasty the RWNM gets. They need to start shutting BushCo down, and this could be the way to start doing that.

    Good for you, senators Dodd, Sanders and Leahy, and any other senator who does the right thing here and opposes Mukasey's nomination.

    0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

    by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:12:18 PM PDT

    •  "putting within the law" = con law for meth heads (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenearth

      un-FREAKIN'-believable for a judge to have said this.

      Get a brain, morans! Go USA!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:28:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yup (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, greenearth

        He's reasserting the excrable and quite dangerous Yoo constitutional and executive power theory that holds that the president has the right and power to interpret standing law as to its constitutionality, even if it hasn't been overruled by the courts or repealed by congress--a power and right that only the courts and congress have, respectively. This is counter to the constitution and 220 years of history.

        This isn't just radical, it's revolutionary, and hugely dangerous, because it's basically a line item veto or signing statement (which are themselves unconstitutional) on ALL standing law. Mukasey clearly believes in this inherently anti-constitutional theory, and for this reason alone isn't fit to be AG. At least he was open and honest about it.

        0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

        by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:36:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  means there is NO law binding president (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie

          of ANY kind.  If okay to torture, okay to murder.  That's not a big jump.

          Get a brain, morans! Go USA!

          by Cartoon Peril on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:43:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril

            I.e. the constitution is OPTIONAL, a guide to executive action rather than a binding limit on it. Truly revolutionary and dangerous. To allow this theory to stand is to literally sign away the republic. I'm not sure that these senators all get that--or care, if they do.

            0101011101100101 010101000110100001100101 010100000110010101101111011100000110110001100101

            by kovie on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 04:02:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Mukasey = Gonzales + One Brain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenearth

    Get a brain, morans! Go USA!

    by Cartoon Peril on Sun Oct 28, 2007 at 03:17:39 PM PDT

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