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October 23, 2007

Should the Senate reject AG-nominee Mukasey?

I have not been paying much attention to the debate over the Mukasey nomination hearings because, as noted here, sentencing issues seemed to be largely off the radar screen.  Still, I am intrigued to see that my colleague (and sentencing guru) Frank Bowman has this new piece at Slate urging the Senate to reject the President's AG nominee.  Here is how the piece starts:

The Senate should not confirm Michael Mukasey as the next attorney general. I am surprised to find myself writing this. I was initially pleased by his nomination.  By all accounts, Judge Mukasey is honest, thoughtful, tough-minded, and independent — qualities his disgraceful predecessor notoriously lacked. If confirmed, Mukasey would probably reinvigorate the Justice Department's depleted and demoralized upper management and make a start on the long job of restoring the department's reputation for integrity and professionalism.

Sadly, that's not enough.  The problem is not Mukasey's intellect, competence, or personal probity. It's that — as became clear on the second day of his Senate testimony — he is wrong about the fundamental moral question of whether reasons of state can justify or excuse the official embrace of torture. And he is even more wrong — dangerously, subversively wrong — about the place of the president in American constitutional government.  If the senators on the judiciary committee really listened to what Mukasey said, and listened as senators and citizens rather than as nervous party politicians, they would reject his nomination on constitutional principle and as a matter of institutional self-defense.

October 23, 2007 at 11:09 AM | Permalink


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I can't disagree with anything you've quoted here.

Posted by: NCProsecutor | Oct 23, 2007 11:23:55 AM

Like Bowman, I really expected to support Mukasey. But his failure to condemn waterboarding as torture is ludicrous.

As noted in this Washington Post article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/04/AR2006100402005.html), "in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian."

We have fallen a long, long way in the last 60 years. Where our nation once saw waterboarding as worthy of prosecution and 15 years of incarceration, we know stand at the precipice of confirming a man as Attorney General who refuses to label that same act "torture."

Posted by: Call Torture What It Is | Oct 23, 2007 11:33:17 AM

He should be rejected, absolutely. His response to Senator Whitehouse on torture was as inadequate as anything Gonzales offered. He has embraced the same underlying theory of executive power (which is to say, unlimited) promoted by Yoo and others, a theory that turns the constitution on its head.
I listened to Yoo speak for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I was as unimpressed with his arguments as I am with Mukasey's responses. Everything Bowman wrote was dead on. Unfortunately, ignoring their own constitutional responsibilities, I have a feeling the senate will confirm him.

Posted by: Alec | Oct 23, 2007 8:58:41 PM

I wonder why all this torture is really necessary at this juncture? I mean, you would think that 1) everyone worth torturing would have confessed to everything by now (regardless of whether they did it); and 2) the southern gentlemen who enjoy torturing and do it for the government with your taxpayer dollars would have discovered a new hobby by now.

Posted by: S.cotus | Oct 23, 2007 11:21:02 PM

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