Friday, October 19, 2007

Attorney General Confirmation Hearing

It's been a long time since I posted here, but I'd like to get back in the habit. I'll start with the nomination of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General. I woke up this morning to NPR's story about the confirmation hearings and am flabbergasted that this man is almost assured confirmation. So, I wrote all of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee as well as Arlen Spector this email (though I stupidly wrote it in a text editor without spell check, so they may think I'm an ignorant wretch) :

Reading about and listening to clips of the Attorney General confirmation hearing left me very disappointed with nominee Michael Mukasey. I ask that you vote against his confirmation.

Mr. Mukasey offered evasive non-answers to questions that should be fundamental to his job. As top law enforcement officer of our nation, it should be unquestioned that everyone in our country is under the rule of law and that the president does not have the authority to break the law. Mr. Mukasey wavered, citing the constitution, presumably for the dubious "unitary executive" powers granted nowhere in the document. Perhaps he forgot the 14th amendment, which clearly states that all citizens, president included, are equal under the law. If he does not understand that, he does not deserve to be the Attorney General.

Mr. Mukasey also offered unacceptable answers to questions about torture. After refusing to discuss the definition of torture, he then relied on that unstated definition to address its constitutionality. This kind of circular reasoning is absurd and should be rejected. As Attorney General, it is his duty to provide sound legal guidance to the Administration. If he cannot do so on such as simple, clear-cut issue as torture, he does not deserve to be the Attorney General.

I do not understand the assumption that Mr. Mukasey will be confirmed. If the last 7 years have taught us anything, it is that you cannot give the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt. They have abused that privilege too many times. It is not enough to aggressively question a nominee, express disappointment for his answers, and then vote for him anyway. Given the history of this Administration's cabinet members, it should be his burden to prove his worth as a nominee.

Is it too much to ask anymore for the nominee to be the chief law enforcement officer to categorically believe in the rule of law, that the president cannot break the law, and that torture is abhorrent? Is that setting the bar too high? It should make for an extremely simple, repeatable talking point. "If you send us a nominee who does not believe in the rule of law or disavow torture, we will not confirm them." Can it possibly get any simpler than that?

Please do no let this president continue to run roughshod over the Congress and the Constitution again and again. Stand up and demand that this nation return to the rule of law, starting with its Attorney General.


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