A Smarter Gonzales?

Adam Liptak provides a lucid explanation of President Bush's decision to nominate Michael Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General:

[I]n his two days of testimony this week, it became clear that Mr. Mukasey believes presidential power to be robust, expansive and sometimes beyond the power of Congress to control. That is perfectly aligned with the Bush administration’s views, and if Mr. Mukasey was initially a refreshing presence to the Senate Judiciary Committee, it was only because he justified in plain terms what other administration lawyers have said in secret memorandums often cloaked in obfuscation. ...

He indicated, for instance, that he favored a narrow reading of the Supreme Court’s sweeping 2006 decision, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, striking down the administration’s initial plan for military commissions to try prisoners at Guantánamo.

Is Mukasey just a smarter version of Gonzales--better able to defend the administration's indefensible positions? Liptak explains why Mukasey's reading of precedent to authorize expansive executive power in defiance of legislation is strained, at best.

Mr. Mukasey also said that Congress might be powerless to bar the president from conducting some surveillance without warrants. “The statute, regardless of its clarity, can’t change the Constitution,” Mr. Mukasey said. “That’s been true since the Prize cases.”

But the Prize cases concerned whether President Lincoln had the power to impose a blockade of Confederate ports without Congressional authorization — not in the face of a Congressional ban. (Indeed, Congress later retroactively authorized Lincoln’s actions.) The distinction between Congressional silence, as in the Prize cases, and Congressional limitation, as in the 1978 law that required warrants for some intelligence surveillance, is an important one.

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    Kabuki (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 01:21:43 PM EST
    I can't believe people are really discussing this. Here's my prediction as to what will happen: regardless of who the new AG is, the Cheney Administration will continue to break the law, as they know their AG/stooge will never bring charges against any of them. End of story. I don't care how eloquently they lie to the Senate, there is no excuse for being fooled at this point. Cheney will not allow anything other than a complete authoritarian hack, and thus a complete authoritarian hack we shall have. And the lawlessness will continue.

    "a smarter gonzales" is, by definition, (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 03:26:13 PM EST
    an oxymoron.

    with insightful constitutional analysis such as this, it makes you wonder what those wild and crazy authors were thinking, when they put those funky "checks and balances" in the document? probably just a bunch of frat boys, playing a joke on george washington, who never did get much in the way of formal schooling.

    this administration, and its minions (and mukasey will be one), will strain every ounce of credulity, to convince us that we really have an emperor, beyond the law that has stood for over 200 years.

    what do you suppose are the odds that bush might attempt to declare martial law, just before the nov. 2008 election, to keep himself in power? i know, i know, it sounds like a plot for a grade B movie, but i truly wouldn't put anything past these guys.