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

Friday, October 19, 2007

Empty Suits

Michael Mukasey's horrible answer about torture and waterboarding has finally raised some questions about his fitness for office.

On the second day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Mukasey went further than he had the day before in arguing that the White House had constitutional authority to act beyond the limits of laws enacted by Congress, especially when it came to national defense.

He suggested that both the administration’s program of eavesdropping without warrants and its use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects, including waterboarding, might be acceptable under the Constitution even if they went beyond what the law technically allowed. Mr. Mukasey said the president’s authority as commander in chief might allow him to supersede laws written by Congress.

The tone of questioning was far more aggressive than on Wednesday, the first day of the hearings, as Mr. Mukasey, a retired federal judge, was challenged by Democrats who pressed him for his views on President Bush’s disputed antiterrorism policies.

These questions and concerns will be stated loudly by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, leading them to delay Mukasey's confirmation for a WHOLE WEEK or so. Quite a punishment.

The truth is that anyone with those cowardly ideas, at variance with the rule of law and the Constitution, is unacceptable to be the nation's top cop. But in the Age of Bush, anyone is unacceptable.

It is similarly unfathomable -- or once was unfathomable in America -- that a nominee for Attorney General of the United States would ever have to say anything other than "no" to the question of "Is waterboarding constitutional?"

George W. Bush's detainee policies have, quite simply, rendered honest and conscientious service as an Attorney General impossible. One simply cannot serve both this president and the law faithfully. It is a paradox and an impossibility, because this president does not serve the law faithfully. And what it means, at bottom, is that George W. Bush's "administration" is an enemy of the rule of law, and has so diminished our capacity to live by it that no honest Senator should permit him the charade of attending to it with the window dressing of confirming an Attorney General.

Anyone who would hold that job in this "administration" will by definition be reduced to serving as a placeholder only -- a mere figurehead to whom everyone will, out of pure habit only, refer to as the "Attorney General," but who will at the end of the day be prevented from administering the law he will have sworn to uphold.

Indeed, almost all of President Fourthbranch Cheney's Cabinet officials are empty suits, mindless drones carrying out extreme policies of executive expansion, corporate welfare and massive war. The nameplate on the door of the various departments don't matter; they're all being run out of the Vice President's office. It can be said that there is no Department of Justice anymore. That's how tarnished this country is right now.

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