This is a two part diary on Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Part I: The conflict of interest Mukasey has re the extremely important telecom immunity in the FISA case and his son Marc.
Part II: The Attorney General's statement that whether it's torture, well that's all about "circumstances" -- his refusal to now state publicly that waterboarding is torture and his tense testimony with Senator Whitehouse this week.
Part I. Yesterday I learned that Attorney General Michael Mukasey's son works with Rudy Guiliani's law firm of Bracewell & Guiliani. Marc Mukasey is heading the Verizon defense in the FISA case.
Wikipedia: Mukasey's stepson, Marc L. Mukasey .... as of 2007 leads the white-collar criminal defense practice* in the New York office of Bracewell & Giuliani....
*as in Verizon
This is a conflict of interest in a topic of supreme importance. I kept waiting to see references to it in the MSM but have not since of course the corporate owned media may not want us to know that government officials at the very top collude with corporate interests, or at the very least give that impression by their close ties.
Mukasey should recuse himself from all FISA matters as AG. Did the Senate know about the FISA connection Mukasey had when they approved him as Attorney General? They must have because these things have been out in the open for some time.
Raw Story: Mukasey conflict of interest?
Attorney General Michael Mukasey has recently been a strong proponent of retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that were involved in illegal warrantless surveillance at the request of the Bush administration.
Mukasey argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that allowing lawsuits against the telecoms is undesirable because it both "puts means and methods in the courts for everybody to examine and for people to become aware of" and "casts some doubt on the question of whether they acted in good faith."
Verizon (seeking immunity for illegal spying) is a client of the Houston lawfirm of Bracewell & Giuliani, where former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani became a partner in the spring of 2005. Attorney General Mukasey's son, Marc L. Mukasey also joined the firm as a partner a few months later, after having served for eight years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
....The conflicts even reach to the NSA wiretapping issue with respect to Verizon: snip Verizon is a prime client of Bracewell & Giuliani.
In addition, Paul Crotty, the respected federal judge who joined Mukasey on the Manhattan bench in late 2005, was the regional president of Verizon, which is based in New York. Crotty was Giuliani's corporation counsel and contributed $5,500 to his federal campaign committees before he became a judge—$1,000 more than the legal limit (the excess was returned). When Crotty left, a Verizon press release stated that he was "responsible for government relations and regulatory affairs for Verizon's largest telephone operations company," but a company spokeswoman declined to answer questions about his possible involvement in the surveillance decisions....
(The Senate, in approving Mukasey as AG) overlooked a glaring conflict of interest, or did they?
Michael Mukasey is now and always has been, a close friend of Giuliani, starting when they both worked as young prosecutors and moved on to the law firm of Patterson Belknap together, and in fact, Mukasey returned to the firm after he stepped down from the federal bench....
That sounds innocent enough, but when one starts to look a little deeper into the many conflicts of interest surrounding both of these men, a pattern of deceit and lies emerges that should cause everyone to call into question not only Giuliani's integrity, but Mukasey's also.
snip (quoting)The Village Voice...: "Even the recent ruckus about Verizon and its cooperation with the National Security Agency's domestic-surveillance program may put Mukasey in a Giuliani-connected bind. The company has admitted that it (illegally spied on Americans). Verizon is a prime client of Bracewell & Giuliani."
Also, the Wayne madsen report calls for impeachment of the AG ....but I could not find the LATimes Op Ed he refers to below:
Verizon, other telecommunications companies, and the Bush administration want the phone companies given immunity from any criminal or civil violations of the law. Mukasey has not recused himself from Justice Department deliberations concerning immunity for the companies
even though his son and best friend stand to benefit from immunity for Verizon.
In fact, Mukasey has not merely failed to recuse himself from the immunity issue but he is actively lobbying for it.
In a December 12, 2007, op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Mukasey wrote that it would be unfair for telecommunications companies, including his son's and best friend's client Verizon to, "face the possibility of massive judgments and litigation costs." Verizon, AT&T, and other firms are facing lawsuits from customers for permitting NSA to engage in warrantless eavesdropping of their communications.
snip If Mukasey fails to appoint a firewalled Special Counsel in the
telecommunications immunity case and other cases that have an impact on Giuliani's business activities, the House Judiciary Committee should, without delay, begin impeachment hearings against the Attorney General.
Indeed, quoting from the above source, it seems Mukasey's position has formed the GOP talking points for immunity:
Mukasey added, "in the future we will need the full-hearted help of private companies in our intelligence activities; we cannot expect such cooperation to be forthcoming if we do not support companies that have helped us in the past."
Mukasey... wants any immunity agreement for the telecommunications companies to be retroactive.
So, I ask of the WHITE HOUSE!
Question for the White House:
You promised that the Mukasey would recuse himself
from any Guiliani issues, so why haven't you
insisted he recuse himself from
Marc Mukasey/Bracewell & Guiliani issues as well?
Part Two - Waterboarding and Attorney General Mukasey's refusal to say it is torture, pure and simple, awful torture. See BarbinMD's account-- "What an embarrassing, infuriating disgrace." --of the 1/30/08 Senate testimony which I watched on CSpan. I heard that shocking and tense exchange between Senator Whitehouse and the attorney general.
The Nuremberg Defense ... is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was "only following orders" ("Befehl ist Befehl") and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.
Whitehouse, a gifted inquisitor, repeatedly brought up "the Nuremberg Defense"questioned the AG regarding whether waterboarding is torture. If he had had more time he might have been able to get somewhere. But the AG was on guard, speaking very carefully so as to avoid incriminating himself or anyone in the administration. You could see that Whitehouse had the AG's full attention! It was electrifying I felt.
This is a comment by Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Law professor, who cogently stated the case last year on why Congress should refuse to allow Mukasey to serve as AG even if it meant having an acting AG for the rest of Bush's term.
Of course, (Mukasey) took an oath to uphold the Constitution, but now believes that it would be irresponsible to address a criminal act ordered by the President of the United States. It reflects a rather curious understanding of both his oath and his duties. It is the same relativistic view that led to clearly false statements made by Mukasey under oath in first denying that he did not know what waterboarding was and then, when told what it was, refusing to answer the question during his confirmation. Click here
In a maddening added comment, he insisted that "it is my job as attorney general to do what I believe the law requires, and what is best for the country, not what makes my life easier." Yet, that is precisely what he is doing: taking the easier and unethical approach. The difficult course would be to enforce the law and state the legal standard despite its implications for the President.
Mukasey said whether or not waterboarding is torture all depends on "circumstances" in his recent letter to Sen. Leahey on this question.
Gee, I dunno.......
"If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views," Mr. Mukasey wrote to Senator Patrick J. Leahy...
"But with respect, I believe it is not an easy question," he said. "There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit the use of waterboarding. Other circumstances would present a far closer question."
The letter did not define any of the circumstances.
Digby said a couple of days ago--
It Depends On What The Definition Of Conscience Is.
Whether they voted for Mukasey or not, Democrats widely
want him to examine the interrogation tactic designed
to make the subject think he is drowning, and answer
definitively: Is it illegal torture?
"I do believe he will be a truly nonpolitical, nonpartisan
attorney general; that he will make his views very clear;
and that, once he has the opportunity to do the evaluation
he believes he needs on waterboarding, he will be willing
to come before the Judiciary Committee and express his
views comprehensively and definitively," said Sen. Dianne
Feinstein of California, one of the six who voted with
the majority for confirmation.
Question for the White House: You promised that the Mukasey would recuse himself from any Guiliani issues, so why haven't you insisted he recuse himself from Marc Mukasey/Bracewell & Guiliani issues as well?
What does this all amount to?
Our dear elected Congress has done it again. They have empowered more Bush administration breaking of law, of immunity to prosecution, of conflict of interest (read "corruption"). Democrats should have never accepted this man, Michael Mukasey, as Attorney General ofthe U.S.