As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dodd Defends The Constitution Again

Chris Dodd does the right thing (again), says he will oppose Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey due to his willingness to excuse the President for policies of torture and to assert unenumerated powers that the President has which Congress doesn't. For anyone interested in the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States, I don't think there's another option unless Mukasey changes his view. Scott Lemieux sums it up nicely:

Although it is a close call, the best course for the Senate would be to vote to reject Mukasey's nomination. This is not because I have any illusion that a substantially better nominee is forthcoming. Still, given the many atrocities at the Department of Justice under Gonzales, it is important for the Senate to send a signal that lawlessness in the executive branch and the endorsement of torture are not negotiable issues. As Jamie Mayerfeld, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington and a specialist in human rights law, told me: "If the Senate Democrats approve Mukasey, they will share responsibility for the institutionalization of torture. They will have knowingly confirmed for attorney general a man who refuses to state that methods actually constituting torture are against the law."

I have little faith that the Democrats will value belief in what are supposed to be fundamental American values like opposition to torture over political expediency. But in this case they're almost obligated to do so. For too long we've seen Democrats sanction the worst abuses of the Bush Administration, on FISA, on military commissions, on suspending habeas corpus, on the Iraq war. Somewhere along the line, that has to end, or else the undeniable conclusion must be that the Democrats believe in all of these abuses as well, or at least the ones who vote in that fashion.

UPDATE: By the way, Tim Russert was embarrassing on MTP with Dodd today. He dredged up quotes from 2002 and 2003 to suggest that Dodd was being duplicitous in 2007, as if nothing had changed in that time period. Russert's world is one that is completely static and every issue remains exactly the same over time. Dodd came very close to calling him on that. On FISA and Dodd's threatened hold (which he never actually mentioned), Russert clearly sided with those poor telecom companies who trusted the govnerment to do whatever they wanted with their data and surely should not be forced to be responsible for that. Then, when Dodd brought up the plain fact of retailiation by the White House to companies like Qwest who rejected the request for data, Russert acted like he never heard of it. "Are you saying that the Bush Administration punished companies who didn't work with them?" One, is that so far-fetched? Two, are you telling me that the king of research, with every quote at his fingertips, never heard of the Page A1 Washington Post story showing that Qwest was indeed punished for denying the White House data - and that they were asked for it SIX MONTHS before 9/11?

Dodd held up well, under the circumstances.

UPDATE II: Apparently the Senate Intelligence Committee's FISA bill report doesn't refer to the pre-9/11 activities that Qwest's CEO has testified to in open court.

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