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Did Bush Re-Nominate Bradbury to Control Mukasey?

Mind you, I’m sure Bush re-nominated Steven Bradbury, the second incarnation of John Yoo, because Bradbury has dutifully shredded the Constitution on demand, and Bush would like to reward him. But the National Journal’s coverage of the Bradbury re-nomination raises an interesting point. It notes, as does everyone else, that Bradbury’s nomination is a big "Cheney yourself" to the Democrats who have refused to approve Bradbury’s nomination in the past.

In the latest example of the continuing partisan rifts over CIA interrogation techniques, Bush renominated lawyer Steven Bradbury to a senior post at the Department of Justice yesterday, despite years of Democratic resistance to his nomination.

[snip]

Bush’s previous attempts to install Bradbury permanently as head of the OLC stalled during the confirmation process, when the DOJ refused to provide senators with copies of Bradbury’s legal opinions on terrorism issues. His previous nominations have expired, and last year Democrats pressed Bush to withdraw Bradbury’s candidacy for the post. But the administration refuses to yield, claiming that Bradbury’s opinions on interrogation techniques do not contradict the law.

But then it points out that Mukasey promised to review the existing OLC opinions to make sure they don’t shred the Constitution.

During his own confirmation hearings last fall, Attorney General Michael Mukasey pledged to review the controversial OLC opinions and "change them" if need be.

Now, I have no idea whether Bush re-appointed Bradbury with Mukasey’s approval; John Ashcroft was able to scuttle John Yoo’s appointment to the OLC, which led to the appointment of Jack Goldsmith. But I imagine Bush (and more importantly, Cheney) wasn’t too happy with the way that worked out.

Certainly, when Mukasey visits the Senate Judciary next week, they ought to ask him whether Bush consulted with him before he re-appointed Bradbury.

Whether Mukasey approved that re-appointment or not, though, the re-appointment guarantees that Bradbury can continue to act as OLC head through the end of Bush’s term. It ensures that Dick and Addington have their stool (in both senses of the word, I suspect) in the heart of DOJ, preventing any real roll-back of Dick’s Constitutional atrocities.

No matter what Mukasey’s intentions, it seems, Bush and Dick now have their insurance that Mukasey can only do so much to fix this Administration’s shredding of the Constitution.

The Terror–Or Maybe Something Else–Presidency

I just finished Jack Goldsmith’s The Terror Presidency. As I’ve been reading, I’ve been focusing primarily on the insight it might offer onto the Terror Tape Destruction. I’ll come back to this, but the short version is that, from June 2004 to December 2004, the CIA had no legal cover for the water-boarding they had already done, which explains why they’d want to destroy the evidence they had been doing it; but that still doesn’t explain why they’d wait until November 2005 to destroy the tapes, which seems to be the really pressing question right now.

But I appreciated Goldsmith’s book, too, for the way that reading an intelligent and sincere conservative helps me to see my disagreements with conservatives more clearly.

While I was reading the book, I found myself repeatedly bugged by several of Goldsmith’s blind spots, not least for his explanation that the excesses of the Administration are attributable to the accountability a President has and the fear everyone had of another terrorist attack.

The main explanation is fear. When the original opinion [on torture] was written in the weeks before the first anniversary of 9/11, threat reports were pulsing as they hadn’t since 9/11. … "We were sure there would be bodies in the streets" on September 11, 2002, a high-level Justice Department official later told me. Counterterrorism officials were terrified by a possible follow-up attack on the 9/11 anniversary, and desperate to stop it.

[snip]

I have been critical of my predecessors’ actions in writing the interrogation opinions. But I was not there when they made the hard calls during the frightening summer of 2002. Instead, I surveyed the scene from the politically changed and always-more-lucid after-the-fact perspective. When I made tough calls in crisis situations under pressure and uncertainty, I realized that my decisions too would not be judged from the perspective of threat and danger in which they were taken. … Recognizing this, I often found myself praying that I would predict the future correctly.

Now, much as I respect Goldsmith’s intelligence, I’m convinced he conjures this explanation as a way to understand how someone like David Addington could be shredding the Constitution, but be doing it in good faith. It’s all understandable and desirable, Goldsmith seems to be saying, in that it will keep us safe in the long run. And David Addington means well, really he does. Read more