Don't say I didn't tell you so.

A few months ago, I posted a diary here, titled "Mukasey Must be Blocked".  

In short, not a lot of people listened, and Michael Mukasey is now the latest stand-in for David Addington, as Attorney General of the United States.

Back then, I wrote a number of reasons why he should have been blocked.  An excerpt:

A third angle, and perhaps the most important:  a lot of people have been all "ooh" and "aah" about "Mukasey ruled against the Administration on Padilla, at the beginning of the case."  To that I say "big deal.  That's no reason to confirm - or even consider - him".


Because that was not some "Stand up for the Rule of Law" ruling, like so many of the other observers have posited.  Look at his WSJ editorial, advertising his availability for the job - he likes torture and warrantless wiretapping.  No, he ruled against the government in Padilla for three reasons.  In reverse order of importance, these are:

1.  Precedent required it.

* *

2.  He was offended that the government spirited Padilla out from under his jurisdiction.

 ...When the Admin wanted to go after habeas, they deliberately made it easy for themselves to get as many grounds as available by taking radical positions and being offensive to the Court.

Don't kid yourself.  

Going after habeas was not some spur of the moment thing on the part of this administration.  [A]nyone with eyes should have seen that eliminating habeas' availability was a long-term objective of the Repugs.  They'd been working on it for easily as long as thirty years - since bringing in the Southern strategy.  

Padilla - and getting to appeal and make their arguments for gutting the habeas Padilla had received to courts they'd stacked - was the keystone.  ... They got time to string things out.

3.  He was protecting his own power as a judge.That was the most important part of his ruling in Padilla, but not for the reasons too many would be thinking.  It's not that he has any great appreciation for preserving the power of the judiciary.  It's that he was more interested in exhibiting that he will preserve and wield the power of whatever office he holds.  

  * *

This is about power, wielding it, and preserving it.  In the hands and office of the AG.

 * * * Now, we are expected to believe that given the unprecedented expansion of power in the AG recently bestowed by the new FISA (among other things) and the rampant power grabs of this Admin, as yet un-undone, a judge (or any other person) whose entire career has been marked by exerting power will not use those powers?  Will not do everything in his ability to preserve those powers?

* * *


No, if in this jungle Olson was the roaring lion stalking your rights, Mukasey is the snake in the grass that you'll never see until it's way too late.  But, they're both Bush-wielded pointed sticks in your eye.  For that reason, he should be blocked.

So, today, he goes over to the Senate and refuses to declare that waterboarding is torture.  Rather, he says, in so many words, that it's only torture when it "shocks the conscience".  A transcript and link to a video are located here.  

Whose conscience? Who knows.

Actually, I know.  It's the President's conscience.  Assuming he has one.  And, one can be assured, if he ordered it, the presumption is that his conscience was clear when he did.  Therefore, it was not torture.

And, more to the point, it's clear the Administration has decided waterboarding is not torture, regardless of whatever circumlocutions they may put on it to sweeten that decision for public consumption.  Marty Lederman, over at Balkinization, has put it far more succinctly and clearly than I could ever hope to, so go there and read the explanation.

There's an old story, reportedly true, about Winston Churchill.  As a young man, he went to many a dinner party.  He had not yet come into much in the way of small talk - never really did - but in his youth his social graces were even more missing.  Nonetheless, being the grandson, nephew and cousin of dukes, he was welcome in the great houses of European aristocracy.

On this particular occasion, he was seated next to a very attractive woman.  By way of small talk he inquired of her:

"Madam, would you sleep with me for a hundred pounds?"

Horrified, she replied "Of course not!"

He responded:  "Would you sleep with me for a million pounds?"

She hesitated.

He then jumped in, cutting her off, and said:  "Well madam, I see we have established what you are, and now it's only a matter of negotating the price."

Or words to that effect.  I don't recall the exact prices mentioned.

And, today, Mr. Mukasey showed exactly what he is.  A torturer, enabler of torture, and co-participant in a criminal enterprise.

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