Oversight or Politics?

Michael Mukasey has engaged in a remarkable bit of sophistry with his refusal to clue Congress in on the joint DOJ/CIA IG investigation into the destruction of the torture tapes. He explains his decision as an attempt to avoid "any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence."

As to your remaining questions, the Department has a long-standing policy of declining to provide non-public information about pending matters. This policy is based in part on our interest in avoiding any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence. Accordingly, I will not at this time provide further information in response to your letter, but appreciate the Committee’s interests in this matter. At my confirmation hearing, I testified that I would act independently, resist political pressure and ensure that politics plays no role in cases brought by the Department of Justice. Consistent with that testimony, the facts will be followed wherever they lead in this inquiry, and the relevant law applied.

Of course, the "political influence" Mukasey was asked to address during his nomination hearings was the kind exerted when a Senator or a Congresswoman called the Attorney General privately to demand that a USA either accelerate the prosecution of a political figure or be fired. In this matter, Mukasey has been asked to respond to what is an almost unparalleled degree of bipartisan support for an open inquiry into a matter that just stinks, already, of a cover-up. Leahy and Specter (and Reyes and Hoekstra and Durbin and Biden and more) called for a procedure that had oversight built in.

And Mukasey said no.

Now, part of me would like to give Mukasey the benefit of the doubt, to believe he’s just going to great lengths to avoid the kind of politicization that occurred under Gonzales. Except that his response to the House Intelligence Committee suggests he’s trying to avoid all oversight into this matter.

Additionally, lawmakers from both parties accused the Justice Department of obstructing a House Intelligence Committee inquiry by advising the CIA against cooperating with it.

"Earlier today, our staff was notified that the Department of Justice has advised CIA not cooperate with our investigation," House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, and the panel’s top Republican, Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, said in a joint statement Friday.

"We are stunned that the Justice Department would move to block our investigation," Reyes and Hoekstra said. "Parallel investigations occur all of the time, and there is no basis upon which the Attorney General can stand in the way of our work. … It’s clear that there’s more to this story than we have been told, and it is unfortunate that we are being prevented from learning the facts. The executive branch can’t be trusted to oversee itself."

In a letter Thursday to CIA Director Michael Hayden, the House panel asked the CIA to hand over by Friday all documents and cables regarding the interrogation tapes and their destruction. But the Justice Department since has advised the CIA to refuse the request, a committee official said Friday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for the committee.

However imperfectly they exercise oversight, it is the duty of the two intelligence committees to exercise such oversight. And preliminary accounts suggest that, while members of the Gang of Four didn’t object to the torture itself (with the exception of Jane Harman), they did object to the destruction of the torture tapes. Therefore, in addition to expressing contempt regarding multiple court orders, the destruction of the torture tapes also reflects contempt of Congress. Yet Mukasey wants to investigate it himself.

Now, Mukasey suggests there’s no whiff of impropriety in all this.

Finally, with regard to the suggestion that I appoint a special counsel, I am aware of no facts at present to suggest that Department attorneys cannot conduct this inquiry in an impartial manner. If I become aware of information that leads me to a different conclusion, I will act on it.

Yet this statement comes from the guy who signed the material witness warrant for Jose Padilla back in 2002, a warrant that almost certainly relied on the testimony of Abu Zubaydah. Thus, even Mukasey himself has improper conflicts, to say nothing of lawyers (Stephen Bradbury, I’m looking at you) who may have given opinions authorizing the destruction of the tapes.

John Dean seems to think the ACLU’s motion to hold the CIA in contempt may be the best means from discovering what really went on.

There are three court orders that may have been violated, but one in particular strikes me as a very serious problem for the CIA. Accordingly, we may well be in the unique situation in which a pending civil lawsuit might flush out some answers, and the federal judiciary might thus embarrass the other branches into actually taking meaningful action. I say "might" because the Bush Administration thinks nothing of stiffing federal court judges who seek information, and they probably figure they can tap-dance for the federal judiciary – along with all the other inquiries — until they are out of Washington on January 20, 2009.

Nevertheless, the situation in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests by the American Civil Liberties Union, could well force the Bush Administration’s hand. An order holding the CIA in contempt of court might get the Administration’s attention.

Let’s hope so, because it looks increasingly unlikely that the Administration will be exposed to any more oversight under Mukasey than it was under Gonzales.

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  1. Rayne says:

    No chance that Mukasey wants to avoid having somebody like Slippery Pete Hoekstra from being a bit too free with offerings of immunity for testimony, a la Iran Contra?

    But you’re right to doubt, have no data so far to suggest Mukasey is really on the up-and-up.

    • emptywheel says:

      I thought about that (though please–let’s solidify the “Crazy Pete” moniker before we face him for Governor). I would hope Reyes would be smarter than Lee Hamilton, but then I doubt it. And Hoekstra was always pretty chummy with Porter Goss.

      • masaccio says:

        I’ve been thinking that the real problem is what we should call Roman Hruska’s Revenge: the election of way too many people to represent the mediocre. The whole political thing is so miserable that no one with any brains wants to do it. It doesn’t pay well, and not everyone gets to be a lobbyist. The repubs have vilified government service so harshly that it is not a pleasant business. The cost of getting elected is hours on the phone and in meetings begging for money. Then, they get vilified at every step once in office. Just look at the way we talk about our own, let alone theirs.

        Most of the positions the mediocre politicians take have some rational explanation. I may not like it, but there are reasons to support telcom immunity, and mediocre thinkers may be persuaded by the dumb reasons advanced by the lobbyists and the cowardly consultants who are the most common advisers these days.

        Clear thinking requires a giant fund of general information and the ability to add more easily, a good memory, and lots of practice associating that information with principles, then applying it to problems, preferably in front of other people. Our Democratic Presidential candidates include several people who can do this stuff. But we are skimming the cream off Congress to get them, and what’s left ain’t much.

        I just think it’s asking a lot of the mediocre to understand the principles, apply real information, and all by themselves to argue telcom lobbyists under the table, let alone take LHP’s advice and laugh at them.

        • behindthefall says:

          I just think it’s asking a lot of the mediocre to understand the principles, apply real information, and all by themselves to argue telcom lobbyists under the table, let alone take LHP’s advice and laugh at them.

          Someone who’s more knowledgeable about U.S. history than I am might found the apt quote, but isn’t this the point about our system only working when there is an ‘informed populace’? Without a populace capable of making informed judgments, what’s the option? A monarchy? I have wondered if this has been behind the Republican power grabs: they really think that We the People are an Underclass incapable of prudently exercizing whatever rights they the Overclass deem them to have. And then it goes downhill from there. “What the hell, we have power now, so let them suffer. They’re all wretches anyway.”

        • Rayne says:

          …The whole political thing is so miserable that no one with any brains wants to do it. It doesn’t pay well, and not everyone gets to be a lobbyist. The repubs have vilified government service so harshly that it is not a pleasant business. The cost of getting elected is hours on the phone and in meetings begging for money. Then, they get vilified at every step once in office. Just look at the way we talk about our own, let alone theirs.

          This is what I refer to as “leadership by default”. The only leaders we get are the ones that show up, not the ones with real experience, strong credentials, brains. And the ones that show up are easily bought.

          I’m pretty sure that the slide happened sometime between JFK and Nixon or Carter; fear of job, combined with the vilification that came with Nixon of politicians, made public service distasteful to more than a couple generations of Americans. And then the paparazzi making it worse during the Clinton years…

          The real majority in this country must make a concerted effort to identify, praise and reward authentic leaders, along with recreating institutions that encourage new generations to enter public service, else we can expect even worse than Bush to emerge from the existing, feeble pipeline.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Insightful comment.
          My personal rule of thumb is that in any profession or organization, about 20% of the people do 80% of the productive work. In American politics today, we may be down to a slim 5% performing 85% of the productive work.
          Agree with Rayne that the pipeline is feeble; it’s cracked, leaky, and needs to be rebuilt.

          But the 2006 Dem candidates seem to be a new breed. It’s simply not credible that Cong. Bruce Braley, or Cong. Joe Sestak, or Cong. Carolyn Shea-Porter, or Sen. Jim Webb raised money and ran for office simply to get rolled by a Mukasey or a McConnell. Those Dems didn’t just fall off the turnip truck in Nov 2006; Sestak and Webb surely have the institutional knowledge they need to be effective. If Bush and Cheney aren’t scared of those two, they must be completely brain dead.

          Which makes Mukasey’s remarks strange:
          MUKASEY: “I am aware of no facts at present to suggest that Department attorneys cannot conduct this inquiry in an impartial manner.”
          TRANSLATION:Torture videos are porn, which means the Pres and Veep can’t admit to viewing them. Their only hope is to create a DoJ firewall, and claim plausible deniability. I’m here today to keep the firewall in place because If you do your job, Bush and Cheney are f*cked.”

          People don’t need college degrees to see the smoke here.
          it’s not complicated.
          Enough people have either worked for a shark or an asshole, or they’ve seen one up close, to figure out the dynamics in play.

          Mukasey may be a Good Soldier, but Webb is a commander, and Sestak was an admiral.

  2. bmaz says:

    I see someone has paged Captain Renault. Pretty easy to predict from his positions at confirmation on not needing special counsels and the ability of the DOJ to do everything in house, as well as the contempt cases. I know those are different matters, but the tone was pretty clear to me.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agree that he made that clear WRT the USA investigation, to which those questions were directed. But that is currently being investigated by the IG, who has some independence from Mukasey.

      I know you’re right–there was no reason to expect an independent investigation. But I honestly think Mukasey will regret this move, bc he had the opportunity to restore some trust in the department.

      Though I would note–Leahy seems as unperturbed by this response as he did by OIG’s responses on the USA investigation–which always made me suspect he knew the OIG investigation was actually moving forward.

      • phred says:

        EW, why the faith in Leahy? He talks a good game, but has yet to produce any substantive results. I think Haggis is rubbing off on him.

      • bmaz says:

        i have never bought off on the thought that the OIG investigation was enough, nor that it is necessarily straight up. Unlike many of these burgeoning number of deals, I an not certain that it’s not either; but that is the best faint praise i can muster. I am a stickler on conflict situations. I have had to pass on representing people and entities that would have brought in big money because of the mere appearance of conflict; stuff that isn’t even a drop in the bucket compared to what these buttwipes laugh off. With their record, they should be going out of their way to avoid the appearance of conflict and impropriety. If they really cared about rebuilding the integrity of the Department, that is exactly what they would be doing; that they are not screams of already dirty hands digging another hole to bury the truth in.

      • nolo says:

        actually — i think EW is wise to
        give some credence to mukasey’s in-
        dependence — and i think there is
        less potential for real conflicts
        of interest that bmaz does
        , with
        all due respect to his well-considered opinions.

        [more on this, under that link.]

        so — i think these letters today meant
        largely what they said — and said what
        they meant.

        i confess i am beginning to suspect
        that mukasey is going to turn out to
        be pretty darn-independent of the
        cheney/bush party-line. . .

        that said, i could be shown
        to be a fool, and soon, though. . .

        p e a c e

        • bmaz says:

          nolo – It is not necessarily that Mukasey made decisions on this as a judge, rather the decisions that he made, that I take issue with as to the propriety of him leading this investigation. And I do indeed believe that he knew that torture was involved in the cases and applications before him. It is not just Mukasey however; it is the DOJ itself, for they are a critical party in the allegations surrounding the alleged destruction of the torture tapes. So, what you have is analogous to double hearsay; you have one conflict sitting on top of another conflict. Or, to use the relevant term of art; at least the appearance thereof. Appearance also happens to be the standard and Mukasey should respect it.

          • nolo says:

            . . .I take issue with as to the propriety of him leading this investigation. And I do indeed believe that he knew that torture was involved in the cases and applications before him. It is not just Mukasey however; it is the DOJ itself, for they are a critical party in the allegations surrounding the alleged destruction of the torture tapes. So, what you have is analogous to double hearsay; you have one conflict sitting on top of another conflict. Or, to use the relevant term of art; at least the appearance thereof. Appearance also happens to be the standard and Mukasey should respect it. . .

            i do hear you, bmaz — i just come
            out at a different place on this one.

            i’ve added emphasis to parts of
            yours, above, bmaz, to highlight how
            our assumptions differ — and that leads,
            i think, to the differing results.

            that is — if one assumes mukasey knew the
            evidence was adduced via torture, then clearly,
            his admission of it would be an error of law — or
            worse. and i don’t think it likely that he knew.
            remember that at his confirmation hearing he called
            the bybee-yoo memos “a sinworse than a mistake. . .”

            so, i think, until competent evidence is
            offered to suggest mukasey knew of the torture,
            he is capable of investigating. this is to say,
            for me,this is like fact-finding by a trial court
            on remand, under order of a higher court.

            it happens all the time.

            mukasey may not like the implication that
            he shouldn’t have admitted the evidence,
            but i don’t think that will stop him from
            doing a thorough job.

            similarly — i’ve only seen allegations that
            CIA lawyers were involved in the destruction.

            i’ve read nothing about DoJ lawyers okaying
            the destruction — nor have we seen anything
            indicating that the DoJ knew of the tapes when
            it made the sworn affirmations in the moussoui case,
            oor the others. maybe i missed it, though.

            finally the “critical parties” are now
            all ex-DoJ OLC people: bybee, yoo, goldsmith.
            add to those, addington and gonzalez while at
            the white house. these are the people who — at
            on cheney’s orders, and berating — authorized
            torture; documented it, and i suspect — gave
            a head-fake to allow the destruction of it, as
            it became clear that someone somewhere was going
            to be able to uncover or leak the tapes.

            this last bit is my WAG, clearly. but i think
            that is where mukasey’s investigation will lead him.

            we’ll see. . .

            p e a c e

            • BayStateLibrul says:

              Good points, but don’t you think “Time is of the Essence”
              I view Mukasey’s rebuttal as another delay tactic.
              Btw, when will see the OLC report on Gonzo?
              They are running out the clock…

              • nolo says:

                i hope not, but i think
                it is possible. but i do
                think — strictly speaking — there
                will not be a lot of time-con-
                suming digging that need be done.

                an interview, under oath, of rodriquez;
                follow-up wih anyone he says gave him an
                okay to destroy the tapes — then, interviews
                of the DoJ lawyers who signed the pleadings
                in the terror cases — i think that will yield
                the bulk of the evidence still remaining. all the
                rest has likely been shredded
                . perhaps a focued
                search of all the back-up drives at the CIA for
                duplicate electronic copies of the tapes will
                yield the tapes themselves. it has been reported
                that the torture videos were sent IN ELECTRONIC FORM
                to the CIA here, from remote locations — gitmo and/or
                various secret locations. that would be a coup. and
                those back-ups aren’t easily destroyed — not as simple
                as burning and smashing a video cassette.

                now — i forgot to mention, in my WAG, above, that
                i think richard bruce cheney gave a “ghosted approval
                of all this tape stuff — in much the same fashion
                as the “wink and nod approval” cheney gave scooter
                libby, when scoots outed valerie plame’s covert identity.

                we’ll see in time. . .

                but it will take time.

                p e a c e

                • bmaz says:

                  nolo – What interview under oath of Jose Rodriquez? Are you nuts or what (heh heh said with respect and affection)? Rodriquez, at this point anyway, is the one with the most body parts in the wringer. He has lawyered up big time; Bob Bennett no less. Now, I don’t know what Bob will do; but if Rodriquez were my client, he wouldn’t be doing any interviews, under oath or otherwise, without every ounce of immunity I could humanly accumulate for him and even then, only after direct order of a court and interlocutory appeal therefrom.

  3. PJEvans says:

    You didn’t seriously think they’d nominate someone who would actually support the rule of law and the Constitution, did you?

  4. grayslady says:

    I sent an email to my senator, Dick Durbin, thanking him for voting against Mukasey. Received an email response back this week thanking me for my input and reiterating his opinion that Mukasey was the wrong man for the job. If even Durbin admits that Mukasey’s a hack, EW, I don’t think I’d be giving him the benefit of the doubt.

  5. Mary says:

    Poor Bush – it’s like the USAtty situation and he has to figure out which way to jump. There he jumped first on the “I don’t know anything about it” bandwagon, only to have to come back later and say, *the guys I didn’t know were fired serve at my pleasure, so if I’d wanted them fired, I could have had them fired, of course not if it was obstruction and I’m still not saying I fired them or that I know anything about any of it, but did I mention that they serve at my pleasure?*

    He could end up in a similar situation here. Bc I’m guessing the cover the CIA crew wants is that *the President’s Article II powers that information must be destroyed in the interests of national security trump a Judge’s order to preserve evidence* but, just as Mr. Guilty Conscience did with the USAtty firings, he’s alreayd jumped on the Sgt. Schultz doctrine.

    • bmaz says:

      Ah, another master of the understated obvious….Heh heh. Silver stakes in the heart won’t stop these zombies; every time you turn around, there they are right back in your grill again.

    • Hugh says:

      I didn’t realize at first from the Mukasey story that,

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..69_pf.html

      The tape investigation is being led by Kenneth Wainstein, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

      emph added

      ohgoodlordinheaven

      From wiki,

      In a September 10, 2007 address at a symposium on modernizing FISA held at Georgetown University Law Center’s National Security Center, Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, argued against the current six-month sunset provision in the Protect America Act of 2007, saying that the broadened surveillance powers the act provides for should be made permanent. Wainstein proposed that internal audits by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Division of the Justice Department, with reporting to select groups of Congressmen, would insure that that the expanded capability would not be abused.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F…..llance_Act

      I don’t see the problem. He’s seems just the kind of guy who would show Mukasey-like independence from the Bush Administration.

  6. LS says:

    Hmmmm….I’m wondering if one of the reasons Mukasey won’t cooperate has to do with Rodriguez and Reyes’ brother….just a thought, since Reyes is one of the chairmen of the Committee….like…where did the leak of the destruction of the two tapes originate….

  7. Loo Hoo. says:

    There’s just no pissing this congress off, is there? Okay, Leahy did get a tad testy with Sara, but I mean, really?

  8. skdadl says:

    That use of “political influence” in the first paragraph of Mukasey’s that you quote, EW, is Orwellian, as they say. It hurts my head. Responding to an entirely proper request from an authorized oversight body would be “political” — why? Because congresscritturs are politicians or something? Because democracy is political?

    Every argument that committed democrats (lower-case d intended) make, these guys will take and turn on its head. Someone should instruct AG Mukasey, and soon, that serious politics and sleaze are not, in democratic theory, the same thing. He is being asked to guard against the latter, not the former, and if he persists in conflating them when that is convenient to … someone …, then maybe he is slipping into the latter himself.

  9. sailmaker says:

    Here is what we can look forward to:

    “The widely expected nomination of a former judge, Michael Mukasey, as attorney general could draw fresh scrutiny of his role in authorizing the secret detention of an unknown number of men without criminal charges following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.”

    “The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch denounced the detentions as “Kafkaesque.” The groups said prosecutors abused the material witness provisions to detain at least 70 men, often when they were suspected of crimes but evidence was lacking. Almost half were never bought before a court or grand jury to testify.”

    “I’m appalled at the choice,” a lawyer involved in one material witness case before Judge Mukasey, Randall Hamud, told The New York Sun yesterday. “In a sealed courtroom that has since been publicized, he kicked my co-counsel out of court. I told him my client had been beat up. He told me, ‘Your client looks okay. File a lawsuit in a couple of years.’”

    ” Mr. Hamud said senators considering Judge Mukasey’s nomination should seek out the details of the hearings held behind closed doors in 2001. “The secrecy basically allowed him to run amok,” Mr. Hamud said. “They should review every one of those sealed proceeding transcripts and see what this man was doing from the bench. These weren’t criminal defendants. They were just witnesses.”

    So secrecy is not sunlight or openness to Mukasy. Not exactly a surprise. Somebody ought to remind him who pays his paycheck and to what he made his oath of office.

    • PetePierce says:

      From EW in the post above

      Let’s hope so, because it looks increasingly unlikely that the Administration will be exposed to any more oversight under Mukasey than it was under Gonzales.

      Absolutely.

      Sailmaker, I have been harping on the material witness horror story that Mukasey facilitated in the S.D.N.Y. for weeks now, and before his confirmation hearings.

      If you replay a number of things that Mukasey did on the Federal District bench, you’ll detect just the right amalgam of cruelty and total contempt for human rights, civil rights, and the Constitution to make Mukasey a perfect puppet for BushCo.

      The story here is quintissential Mukasey. Mukasey was one of several stupid and irresponsible confirmations from SJC.

      They spent little time researching him, and absolutely should have gotten those transcripts.

      Post-9/11 Cases Fuel Criticism for Nominee

  10. wavpeac says:

    What is in it for Mukasey? How does this benefit him? Why are so many compliant to this gov’t? With Hitler we had irrational prejudice and fear. If you stood up against Hitler you literally could be killed. What is fueling the power and control behind Bush/Cheney? Something is.

    • sojourner says:

      You are not the only one wondering about that… I cannot figure out if members of Congress are simply living in sheer abject terror about how this administration has acted, or if it is because someone is literally holding a gun to their heads. I was reading something the other day about the so-called “nuclear” option a couple of years ago in which the Republicans had threatened to cut off the right to filibuster in the Senate. Where I am going is that maybe there is another “nuclear” option somewhere that is keeping everyone in line.

      It is puzzling, to say the least, how such seemingly intelligent people, Democrat and Republican alike, can continue to allow themselves to be bamboozled and stampeded into passing things that would seem to be clearly unconstitutional.

    • noen says:

      Why are so many compliant to this gov’t? With Hitler we had irrational prejudice and fear. If you stood up against Hitler you literally could be killed. What is fueling the power and control behind Bush/Cheney? Something is

      Anthrax

  11. DeadLast says:

    Bush’s greatest skill has been to lie and obfuscate, but just when it appears that he is caught in his own web of deciet, an even bigger crisis erupts. Then he claims that he can’t respond to the first lie, because his second lie is so much bigger and he has to direct all of his attention to not responding to it.

    Now I know what Brando was referring to in Apacolypse Now when he said “The Horror… The Horror…”.

    • prostratedragon says:

      I think some of the horrors we see in some areas are expressly designed to mask some of the other, more directly remunerative ones, or absorb resources that might be spent on combating them. (Sheer attention is a resource.)

      I also think there’s some underlying menace that might as well be talked about, seeing as how much damage is being caused by thinking it can be catered to.

  12. sojourner says:

    One other thought, and it is just a gut feeling… I am beginning to hear tacit acknowledgment and acceptance, even, in various news media about this administration’s lawlessness. I can almost imagine an announcer saying, “And that’s the way it is…” as he shrugs his shoulders.

    My gut feeling is that the public at large is pretty fed up with it all. For the last seven years this administration has played on the hearts and emotions of the public to get its way — and people are realizing that they have been had. I work in an office that you would think would be gung-ho for everything the administration is doing. Instead, my co-workers are all just tired of it — and tired of hearing about it!

    I have to wonder if there is going to be an angry eruption in response to some seemingly small matter. I guess there has to be a breaking point somewhere, or else we have all moved into the “Big Brother” era and most people just don’t care.

    I know this is terribly depressing. Our society has been seized by severe apathy, and the politicians know it.

  13. masaccio says:

    In the same vein as my 23, I was thinking about Vic Wulsin. We have given her a fair amount of money in the last two cycles, and she has called me a couple of times. She is bright and energetic, and I enjoyed talking to her. I absolutely cannot imagine doing that myself. I am grateful to her for running, and wish I could help enough so that she could at least shorten the dreary work of raising enough to run against that embarrassing blight on society, Jean Schmidt.

  14. joanneleon says:

    “Wexler Launches Online Push for Cheney Impeachment Hearings”
    Following the release of an online op-ed advocating for Cheney impeachment hearings by Representatives Robert Wexler (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), all Members of the House Judiciary Committee, Wexler has launched an ambitious online effort to mobilize support for immediate impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Go to his website to sign the petition: http://wexlerwantshearings.com/

  15. noen says:

    NYT has this too:

    Justice Dept. Seeks Delay on C.I.A. Inquiry

    The Justice Department request to the House committee was made in a letter signed by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein and John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A.’s inspector general, who are leading the preliminary criminal investigation. “Our ability to obtain the most reliable and complete information would likely be jeopardized if the C.I.A. undertakes the steps necessary to respond to your requests in a comprehensive fashion at this time,” the letter said.

    Mostly the same info.

  16. wavpeac says:

    There is no doubt that all this “behavior” fits the same pattern as any out there who are hiding a secret, and who are not willing to confront or face the consequences of the secret. These are folks sharing a philosophy that “facing” the secret would not be good on a personal level as well as not being good for the world. At least that must be the rationale. If it’s a group of alcoholics, they share a “secret” philosophy about drinking. Drug addicts share a philosophy about drugs. They know each others secrets, they work almost in tandem with each other in protecting “the secret”. Almost everything the drug addict does (including anything ‘evil’) is done because it protects “the secret”. (steal to get more drugs, sell drugs to have access to stash, prostitution, all roads lead to drugs and drug money). Police investigators know that this is a world that is difficult to crack. The addiction creates a “conspiracy of sorts” without any direct agreement to behave as a conspiracy.

    What is “the secret” for this group of people. Is it just greed? There is some basic philosophy or secret that creates the same kind of “acting as one” that occurs with drug addiction. It could sheer power, violence, it could be child pornography and drugs, it could be greed, but I can’t put my finger on “the secret”. Clearly these folks are sharing a philosophy and working in tandem with one and other. It seems they do so with relatively little direction, as if they all know exactly what to do. It’s obvious to us on the outside, just like potheads know who smokes, and alcoholics always find each other.

    • phred says:

      Thanks for the link to the Savage article. Here’s a bit from the end…

      Responding to the conflicts, in 2004 Congress enacted a law forbidding Defense Department employees from interfering with the ability of JAGs to “give independent legal advice” directly to military leaders. But when President Bush signed the law, he issued a signing statement decreeing that the legal opinions of his political appointees would still “bind” the JAGs.

      And throughout the past several years, the administration has repeatedly proposed changes that would impose greater control over the JAGs, such as letting political appointees decide who should be the top service JAGs. Each previous proposal has died amid controversy in the Pentagon or Congress.

      The new proposal goes further than anything the administration has pushed before because it would affect all military lawyers, not just the top JAGs.

      Emphasis mine — looks like more pixie dust for EW to add to her collection.

  17. BayStateLibrul says:

    “I think it’s best that all of us not jump to conclusions on
    individual players named, but we can jump to the conclusion: that
    steroids have sullied the game” George Bush, December 14, 2007

    Hey fuckhead, it wasn’t steroids… it was the USE of steroids…

    Move along, mistakes were made. Commutations and full pardons.

    The report, without naming names, would be relegated to the dustbin of
    history.
    I give Mitchell high marks…
    Yeah, Mukasey… give Senator Mitchell, a call…

    • phred says:

      Again, thanks for the link. We already know that we do not have an independent legislative branch of government. I think we are about to find out whether we still have an independent judiciary…

  18. phred says:

    Here’s another bit from the Savage article I like

    One of Haynes’ allies on the Bush administration legal team, former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, recently coauthored a law review article sharply critical of the JAGs’ unwillingness to endorse the legality of the administration’s treatment of wartime detainees.

    No conflict of interest there at all Johnny boy… Can’t imagine why he would be unhappy that the JAGs called bullshit on his opinions… Wouldn’t have anything to do with violations of the Geneva Conventions being war crimes, would it?

  19. Stephen Parrish says:

    wavepac @ 5:53 am –

    What is the “secret” for this group? To answer your question, some conjectures come to mind:

    Is fear the secret (or only one of several secrets) for this group? If so, what is it that this group is so afraid of? Are most, if not all, of the group’s members insecure people whose primary source of security comes from belonging to a political party? Please look at Fareed Zakaria’s comments in this recent Newsweek column:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/77068

  20. RodUnderleaf says:

    Emptywheel. Mukaseys involvement with Guiliani, Silverstein, and other principals who had dealings in the events of 9/11, is the key to the answers we seek. But you are not allowed to unlock the door. The details are facinating in themselves but where they lead is problematic.

  21. nolo says:

    . . .Are you nuts or what (heh heh said with respect and affection)? Rodriquez, at this point anyway, is the one with the most body parts in the wringer. He has lawyered up big time; Bob Bennett no less. Now, I don’t know what Bob will do; but if Rodriquez were my client, he wouldn’t be doing any interviews, under oath or otherwise, without every ounce of immunity I could humanly accumulate for him and even then, only after direct order of a court and interlocutory appeal therefrom. . .

    hey bmaz — again, i’ve emphasized the part
    of yours, where i think our views depart
    from one another.

    i think he’ll sing — under oath, and
    with immunity — and soon. as you point
    out, he has, essentially, life in prison to lose.

    i knew of bennett’s retention — but let’s remember
    that what everyone says rodriquez did, constituted
    multiple felonies. i guess you think he wouldn’t be
    immediately indicted, were he to decide not to
    cooperate. mukasey strikes me as the kind who
    will act quickly and decively to have him wearing
    orange, especially if he doesn’t roll-over. there
    is more than enough sworn testimony to win a life-
    sentence conviction against him, right now.

    so i think bennett will have to
    deal — a smallish plea, perhaps
    failure to preserve records, for immunity.

    yep — you are right:
    bennett will get him immunity,
    but then he’ll sing.
    loud and long, and
    indeed quickly, i suspect.

    again, we’ll see.
    so we’re clear, i meant no disrespect.

    p e a c e

  22. Leen says:

    Some were hopeful about Mukasey, but not Leahy, Kennedy, Kerry and so many more who voted against him. Schumer and Feinstein demonstrated what side of the issues they stand on. Not the peoples, not justice.

    This is dissapointing