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  #1  
Old 11-01-2007, 10:14 AM
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Dems being unfair to Mukasey?

Judge Mukasey is catching flack for refusing to say whether waterboarding is illegal. While it would be nice to get a straight answer from him, I can also see how his taking a position on that issue could compromise his ability to do his job as Attorney General.

Does his personal opinion on that specific legal issue really matter? Where he stands on the issue seems less important than his willingness to faithfully execute his job as AG.

I think that the Dems have opened a can of worms that could have been left closed. By doing so, they are delaying the important work of rehabilitating the reputation of the Department of Justice.

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  #2  
Old 11-01-2007, 10:30 AM
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I think the issue is more complex than a question of waterboarding being legal.
Arlen Specter is not convinced that Mukasey is right for the job, and he is a ranking Republican.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/washington/25mukasey.html?_r=1&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/S/Specter,%20Arlen&oref=slogin
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  #3  
Old 11-01-2007, 11:15 AM
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Could his position on the legality of warrantless wiretaps mean anything? Even Ashcroft wouldn't go along with that one, but this guy thinks they're just fine.

Perhaps it's the other way around. By nominating Mukasey, Bush is delaying the important work of rehabilitating the reputation of the DOJ.
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  #4  
Old 11-01-2007, 11:31 AM
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The AG is the one who writes the White House opinion on what it interprets as torture. That is part of the reason we are looking for a new AG. I think we have every right to know what this guys view is on torture.

BTW, McCain wants to know as well.
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  #5  
Old 11-01-2007, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by davidmash View Post
The AG is the one who writes the White House opinion on what it interprets as torture. That is part of the reason we are looking for a new AG. I think we have every right to know what this guys view is on torture...
Not to get too technical, but the AG doesn't represent the White House. The AG represents the government as a whole, I believe. I understand that this picky point does not refute your statement, but it seemed worth noting.

I think that the problem I have with the line of questioning about waterboarding is that a lawyer, whomever he or she represents, should give legal advice in private. If called upon to give an opinion about waterboarding, the AG should have the opportunity to tell his client the extreme limits of what is permissible. A Senate committee hearing seems like a particularly bad venue to have that type of nuanced discussion.

I understand that the AG is not like other lawyers, but I can understand Mukasey's reluctance to answer the waterboarding question. I have not followed this issue closely enough to comment on the issues raised by Chas H and Matt L.

Last edited by Honus; 11-01-2007 at 12:06 PM.
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  #6  
Old 11-01-2007, 07:33 PM
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I view this as a problem of Mukasey's independence from the White House. And it serves as an indicator of whether Mukasey would use his position as Attorney General to run interference for the White House and serve as a member of the President's political team ... rather than representing the government as a whole.

The question of whether waterboarding constitutes "torture" under U.S. law is not really complicated, no matter how much hemming and hawing and chin-pulling these clowns do. There aren't permissible degrees of waterboarding before it BECOMES torture. There is no "lite" version that rehabilitates it. It is just flat-out torture. That's the case under the Geneva Convention (which we signed, and which is part of the laws that Mukasey would be in charge of enforcing). And it has been prosecuted as a war crime and human rights abuse (when it was done by the Japanese during World War II, among other things).

So ... this dance that Mukasey is doing before the Senate of "gee, I really haven't thought of that" or "gosh, torture? That would really depend what your definition is" is very disheartening. Mukasey is already pushing the administration's bizarre self-definition of what constitutes "torture" and what doesn't -- i.e., it is very complicated, depends on lots of subjective factors, and depends on whether it actually COULD lead to death as opposed to extreme but momentary discomfort ... all that Orwellian B.S. that hides the truth in plain sight.

And Mukasey is also playing the nya-nya-not-going-to-answer-your-question game with Congress. That's bad.

This is the same contemptuous song and dance that Alberto Gonzalez used over and over again, and it suggests that Mukasey would just be a more sophisticated version of the same old thing as his predecessor -- on this and other issues.

So letting this nomination go through will not necessary speed the rehabilitation of the Department of Justice.

And this can of worms NEEDS to be opened. Because it goes to the heart of what the office of Attorney General represents. Are you going to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed, or are you going to help the President evade the laws as do as he sees fit and finds convenient? Can the President unilaterally declare himself to be above the law and nullify the laws and treaties he finds inconvenient? Are we a nation of laws at all?

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  #7  
Old 11-01-2007, 07:37 PM
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Yea, I know he is supposed to represent the government but that is not what's been happening for the past 7 yrs. Gonzo represented W and I think W is looknig for a replacement to Gonzo. When you thumb your nose at the people for a little too long people get pissed. W never thought he would have to fight Congress that was not under his control. W screwed the pooch on this one and now e will just have to pay the piper for the next 12 months.
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  #8  
Old 11-01-2007, 07:39 PM
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I have two questions that I think are important.

1. Are there no circumstances under which torture (however defined) is acceptible?

2. Is water-boarding, torture?
----------------------------------------------
Concerning AG specifically, like any other cabinet member he serves at the pleasure of the President, with the Senate's advice and consent. In this case the President got advice from Sen Schumer who supported the nomination. It's up to the President & the nominee to make the case for the appointment. That's the consent part.

The nominee said he couldn't make a decision about water-boarding without knowledge of how and when it was used. Is that unreasonable?

B
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  #9  
Old 11-01-2007, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
The nominee said he couldn't make a decision about water-boarding without knowledge of how and when it was used. Is that unreasonable?

B
Is it reasonable to confirm a nominee that is unknowledgable?
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  #10  
Old 11-01-2007, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
I have two questions that I think are important.

1. Are there no circumstances under which torture (however defined) is acceptible?

2. Is water-boarding, torture?
----------------------------------------------
Concerning AG specifically, like any other cabinet member he serves at the pleasure of the President, with the Senate's advice and consent. In this case the President got advice from Sen Schumer who supported the nomination. It's up to the President & the nominee to make the case for the appointment. That's the consent part.

The nominee said he couldn't make a decision about water-boarding without knowledge of how and when it was used. Is that unreasonable?

B
1. Yes
2. Yes
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  #11  
Old 11-01-2007, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Chas H View Post
Is it reasonable to confirm a nominee that is unknowledgable?
Of course it is. Do you know anybody who is knowledgeable in all things? I don't. Only a complete ****** fool would assert that a nominee should be knowledgeable in all things.

If I understand it correctly (I didn't watch the hearings so I could easily be wrong), the nominee preferred not to make stuff up and create an opinion from ignorance. Wouldn't you agree that is a demonstration of sound judgement?

B
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  #12  
Old 11-01-2007, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by MBlovr View Post
1. Yes
2. Yes
Thanks for the succinct response.

If some child molester mofo kidnapped one of my kids and I got my hands on him I'd water-board the ***** out of him until he gave-up the information. If no towels were handy I'd be okay with bamboo shoots. Or pliers. Or a soldering gun.

If I thought somebody was involved in placing a nuke in Paducah, I'd have no reservations whatsoever about extracting means by whatever methods were necessary in order to protect the tens of thousands of people who would be killed by blast and the agony of radiation.

The military subjects trainees in advanced courses to a variety of interrogation techniques that are as harsh as water-boarding and perhaps even more harsh. They also water-board their trainees in these advanced courses. Should the trainers be prosecuted for subjecting their trainees to those techniques?

The other night I tried water-boarding myself after I read about it. I encourage you to try it on yourself. It's a great learning experience.

First of all, it's hard to do effectively to yourself. You need a fresh, very heavy-pile towel. And you have to leave it in the bucket of water until it is thoroughly soaked. I used tap water but I'll bet either extremely cold or extremely hot water would be more effective.

I lay down on the floor and lifted the towel from the bucket onto my face and spread it loosely over my mouth and nose, covering my whole face. (I inhaled first). After about 20-30 seconds ( counted 1-Mississippi, 2-Missisippi ... but by the time I got to about 20 I was going 20 Misip, 21 Misip...). Then I tried gasping for air by exhaling forcefully and snatching air in. that failed, air near my nose and mouth got immediately stopped by the inhalation of the wet fabric. I could hear the air being sucked through the fabric but too slowly to offer relief. I panicked and yanked the wet cloth from my face. Not a recreational event. You go into self-preservation mode much faster than you can think. I was still counting after I pulled-off the towel--my conscious mind had not caught-up to my panic.

Now if I were restrained and could not remove the towel I would have been struggling like crazy and screaming. I could imagine the interrogator casually removing the towel and letting me take a couple of gasps and doing taht again. Say 2-3 times in succession so that I was totally freaked and fully disoriented. Then ask me a question that I could answer in good conscience -- "What day is it?" If no immediate answer, back under the towel. Then you do the good-cop, bad-cop thing. Etc.

It would work on me, I have no doubt. It would be a horrible experience. But in 10 minutes after the last session, my heart-rate would be normal and I'd be physically fit, even if very tired.

Given a choice between subjecting a hijacker or bomb-planter to that kind of interrogation or Mirandizing him and getting him an attorney (etc), f**k Miranda.

B
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  #13  
Old 11-01-2007, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
If I understand it correctly (I didn't watch the hearings so I could easily be wrong), the nominee preferred not to make stuff up and create an opinion from ignorance. Wouldn't you agree that is a demonstration of sound judgement?

B
No, I think it is a demonstration of ignorance.
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  #14  
Old 11-01-2007, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Chas H View Post
No, I think it is a demonstration of ignorance.
Duh.

That is precisely what he said of himself. That's the first step.

Now take it another step. Should any lawyer, especially a federal judge, reach a conclusion of law based on ignorance or should he educate himself prior to forming an opinion?

B
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  #15  
Old 11-01-2007, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
Duh.

That is precisely what he said of himself. That's the first step.

Now take it another step. Should any lawyer, especially a federal judge, reach a conclusion of law based on ignorance or should he educate himself prior to forming an opinion?

B

That's not the issue, Bot. Mukasey is just refusing to answer a difficult question on a pretextual, made-up reason.

This is sort of like Justice Alito claiming, at his confirmation hearings, that he had no views on Roe v. Wade, and had never thought much about the case, and couldn't answer questions since he had no thoughts -- and any response would be hypothetical. RIGHT! Sure! A former legal advisor to President Reagan and a federal judge, and he has never formed opinions on Roe v. Wade! Hilarious!

Short form -- "I won't answer your question, Senator. Eat my shorts."

Besides, Mukasey's ignorance-based excuse is now blown -- since the Senate committee members sent him a pile of detailed materials describing the problem. And he is STILL refusing to answer them.

In other words ... Mukasey is refusing to answer their questions, and he is giving the Senate the finger.

This tactic doesn't deserve defending. It is what it is.

-- Bokonon

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