Michael Mukasey, the Shortest Honeymoon Ever

Hoo boy, Mukasey’s having a heck of a honeymoon, isn’t he? In addition to running the joint CIA-DOJ investigation of the destroyed terror tapes, now Feingold (on both SJC and SSCI) wants him to answer the questions he refused to answer in his nomination hearings.

Dear Attorney General Mukasey:

During the hearing on your nomination to be Attorney General and in your answers to questions submitted for the record, you repeatedly refused to answer questions related to interrogation techniques on the grounds that you had not yet been briefed on the CIA’s interrogation and detention program. I was disappointed with these responses. Familiarity with the CIA program should have been irrelevant to a legal opinion about practices such as waterboarding, which have been employed by dictatorships for generations and historically condemned by our own government.

Nonetheless, now that you have been sworn in as our nation’s Attorney General and presumably have been briefed on the program, I urge you to provide your views on its legality to Congress at the earliest possible date. As a member of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, I believe that a full and informed exchange between yourself and Congress is critically important if our intelligence activities are to be conducted consistent with our laws and Constitution and subject to appropriate congressional oversight. Such transparency would also be long overdue, given the refusal of the Department of Justice to provide to Congress any legal opinions on the program.

I oppose any interrogation techniques not authorized by the Army Field Manual, as do majorities of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. I do not believe that their use is legally or morally defensible or that it makes our nation safer. It is my hope that, under your leadership, the Department of Justice will take a fresh look at the CIA’s program, and that you will urge the President not to veto legislation that would end the use of so-called "alternative interrogation techniques." I request that you provide current and any past Department legal analyses to Congress, and that you provide your views on the program to Congress at the earliest possible date.

That said, I think this is good politics. It takes the pressure caused by the news of the torture tape destruction and ratchets it up another level. All, hopefully, to force Bush to accept restrictions against torture.

  1. JohnForde says:

    What leverage does ‘Waterboarding George’ have on the AG?
    It might be troublesome, but why couldn’t MuKasey just appoint Fitz as a special counsel to investigate the destruction of the tapes?

  2. looseheadprop says:

    It’s also consistant with your idea that many of these revelations are related to the threat of veto and that it’s all high stakes chess to force the President to all ow the legislation.

    Boy, Schumer must have promised a lot during the Mukasey confirmation process and now the Dems are trying to force him to make good. In public.Not even a little backroom arm twisting.

    • billinturkey says:

      Just a wild thought (but encouraged by your TFH on the Libby thread)

      Is there any chance that Mukasey might be weighing the odds of staying on as AG in the next administration if he shows himself to be enough of a straight shooter?

      I’m inclined to think that he’s probably unsackable by W. at this point. And given all the noise that Dem candidates have been making about bipartisan cabinet appointments (dropping a hint, even?)might he think he’s in with a shot . And presumably Clinton and Schumer are close, (Schumer being Mukasey’s big backer) – and one might make a good case for the importance of continuity at DOJ after its near gutting during Attorneygate.

      Or would this be so unprecedented as to be impossible?

          • bmaz says:

            Yes, I am really that confident. Why? For all of the reasons we have been discussing here over the last year. If there is to be some “bi-partisan” use of Republicans in any new Democratic administration, it sure as hell will NOT be as Attorney General.

        • MrWhy says:

          Not. Going. To. Happen.

          The working assumption here is that the Democratic nominee will win the WH. If by some chance the Republicans win (hey, they won the last two somehow) you might reconsider wanting Mukasey gone. Assuming he works out OK over the next year or so.

          • bmaz says:

            Fair enough. Of course, if we end Manny, Moe, Jack, or any of the other Rethug candidates; we got bigger problems than Mukasey…..

  3. whitewidow says:

    Go Feingold. I think that the committee did a pretty effective job of setting themselves up for later during the confirmation hearings. I think the honeymoon was over for Mukasey even before consummation.

  4. oldtree says:

    I am happy to count Russ Feingold as a fellow American. I wish more were qualified for the job they want. Congress generally has people unfit to serve.

  5. Neil says:

    I urge you to provide your views on its legality to Congress at the earliest possible date.

    Of course Mukasey will not do this until he knows the facts. Pressure on Mike comes from three places, dealing with lost evidence of torture in the past, dealign with evidence of torture still in existence, and dealing with CIA policy moving forward. If Cheney and Hayden are committed to using

    so-called “alternative interrogation techniques”

    moving forward. Mukasey must be kept in the dark like a good mushroom.

  6. randiego says:

    OT curmudgeon alert:

    Would it be possible to dispense with the “ZED!”’s and the “FITZ!”’s… please? For the love of Mike there’s enough to sort through and read!

  7. joanneleon says:

    I still wonder whether any deal was made for the Mukasey confirmation. Did he agree to appoint a special prosecutor? Biden just announced that he wants a special counsel for the tapes case. And as we know, the precedent is there from the Nixon days:

    In fact, that is exactly what happened in 1973, in a Watergate precedent that closely parallels the Mukasey nomination today: Attorney General Richard Kleindeinst had resigned under a cloud. President Nixon, faced with a hostile, Democratically controlled Senate, proposed a “consensus” candidate, Elliot Richardson, for Attorney General. Like Mukasey, Richardson was a respected figure whose qualifications were not seriously questioned.

    Nonetheless, the Senate Judiciary Committee advised Richardson that he would not be confirmed unless he agreed to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate alleged Watergate crimes. That condition did not impugn the nominee’s credentials in any way. Richardson agreed and appointed Archibald Cox to the position, whose investigations and summary dismissal ultimately resulted in the House Judiciary Committee voting to impeach President Nixon, forcing his resignation.
    Richardson’s Confirmation, a Guide for Mukasey’s

    Or is it possible that a deal was made in which Mukasey agreed to try contempt of Congress cases where the executive branch is still refusing to comply with subpoenas?

    If the democrats confirmed Mukasey and got nothing in return, that would be a huge mistake and would be surprising, even for this Senate.

    • emptywheel says:

      No on both counts, specifically.

      Mukasey said in responses to Senators that he could not use DOJ to pursue contempt bc DOJ has already told them they would not be held in contempt.

      And he has said he doesn’t think a Special Prosecutor is necessary, that they can do it in house.

      That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a deal, but it wasn’t either of these things.

  8. Starbuck says:

    Hmmm, I jumped the Zed crap on FDL, and now it’s gone.

    Perhaps it will disappear here also.

    When I see it, I don’t even bother to read further. I’m inclined not to read another thread!

    My partner pointed me to post 13, so I had to say something.