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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Missed Opportunity On Mukasey

I'm watching the beginnings of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings (St. Lieberman of the Vapors is blathering on right now), and it's clear this is going to be an exercise in fluffery. This is going on in the context of a Justice Department that is almost completely lawless.

Mark Fuller, an Alabama judge appointed by George Bush as been accused of pension fraud, misuse of his office, perjury, criminal conspiracy and obstruction of the FBI's background check for the Federal Judiciary. These charges were made well before Fuller was assigned to prosecute Don Siegelman, former Democratic governor of Alabama.

The charges were submitted to the DOJ's public integrity section by a respected defense attorney who conducted a routine investigation prior to trying a major case. The charges were sufficiently credible to get judge Fuller removed from that case. However, he was allowed to preside over the Siegelman case. These charges of criminal activity were corroborated by signed documents by public officials involved in exposing the alleged pension fraud by Judge Fuller.

There are a series of questions already about the Siegelman case, and now the hand-picked judge is accused of fraud and misuse of his office. It's just inconceivable to me that Pat Leahy and the like in the Senate is talking about "the future." The past is illegal, and there are going to be very few opportunities to get to the bottom of what's been happening at the DoJ.

I'm somewhat heartened by the attempt to stop Steven Bradbury, as his tenure at the Office of Legal Counsel is specifically tainted by his advisory opinions on torture.

In September, the White House has declared that its “next priority this fall” is to obtain Senate approval for Steven Bradbury, “the man who is advising President Bush on the extent of his terrorism-fighting powers.” In 2005, Bradbury replaced Jack Goldsmith as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and has since been interim OLC chief.

Today, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) expressed reservations about Bradbury. “What we know is troubling. Mr. Bradbury refuses to repudiate un-American and inhumane tactics such as waterboarding and mock executions. … There are also serious and unanswered questions about Mr. Bradbury’s role in NSA warrantless surveillance programs.” [...]

In July 2006, Bradbury testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and proclaimed that “the president is always right.

OLC is simply too small an office to pick this fight. It has outsized importance in the Bush Administration, acting essentially as an inside-the-White-House version of the Supreme Court, and a rubber stamp besides. But only using the Attorney General nomination as a leverage point will actually gain any attention. I just think it's a mistake to let the Administration skate on this without extracting a price.

Mukasey is saying all the right things, like "partisan politics plays no part in the bringing of charges." But it has, and those illegalities shouldn't be allowed to stand.

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