[From American Freedom Campaign letter to my Senators]
Dear Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Gordon Smith:
I am writing to strongly urge you to vote against the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next attorney general of the United States.
Even if he would “depoliticize” the Justice Department with respect to partisanship, Mukasey demonstrated the same reverence for kingly prerogatives of power for the president to operate outside our Constitution, treaties and laws that Alberto Gonzales did not so very long ago. His bizarre notions of executive power trumping the rights of the people and subordinate relationship to the Congress and Courts in many areas are unacceptable, regardless of his “integrity” or other characteristics attributed to him by others.
During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Mukasey made numerous comments that demonstrate his lack of respect for domestic law and international treaties. He went so far as to say that the president could ignore federal law whenever he determined -- on his own -- that national security interests trumped the laws of the land.
Here is just a sampling of the outrageous assertions made by Mukasey before the Judiciary Committee:
Mukasey refused to acknowledge that “waterboarding,” a technique used to simulate drowning during interrogations, constitutes torture. Despite the fact that waterboarding is an infamous torture technique barred under both international and domestic law, Mukasey said that he was not familiar with the practice. He could only meekly say, “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.”
Mukasey shockingly claimed that the president should not be bound by federal law. When asked specifically whether the president is required to obey federal statutes, he said, “That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country.” It is that kind of attitude that led to the use of torture, the abuse of signing statements, and widespread and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping. We are -- and we can only hope we will always be -- a government of laws, not of man (or woman). It is not up to the president or other members of the administration to determine whether federal laws apply in a given situation.
Mukasey indicated that his Department of Justice would likely turn a blind eye to the Bush Administration practice of ignoring congressional subpoenas. He was asked whether he would, as attorney general, direct the U.S. attorney in D.C. to refer contempt charges against Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to a federal grand jury for criminal prosecution, as federal law requires should the House or Senate pass a contempt resolution. Despite the fact that executive privilege is traditionally asserted to protect certain documents or conversations -- not to defy completely a subpoena to appear before Congress -- Mukasey said that the U.S. attorney would have to determine whether the assertion of privilege was “unreasonable.” I hope you -- as a sitting senator -- agree that there is no way this kind of executive branch defiance could be considered reasonable.
After the disastrous tenure of Alberto Gonazales, our next attorney general must be committed to upholding the rule of law. Unfortunately, Michael Mukasey has demonstrated that he will place the whims and desires of the executive branch above both domestic and international law. This is simply unacceptable.
I hope and expect that you will oppose the nomination of Michael Mukasey.
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