Waterboarding is torture. Torture is unacceptable. Period.
If Michael Mukasey won’t stand up to President Bush and tell him that, then he doesn’t deserve to be Attorney General.
The Department of Justice lost its way under Alberto Gonzales. It became a rubber stamp for Bush Administration policies — from torture to warrantless surveillance to unprecedented secrecy — instead of a staunch defender of the Constitution.
The consequences have been alarming. The United States has lost its moral high ground in the world, and the rule of law has taken a back seat to Presidential power and political agendas.
We now have an opportunity to stop this trend and restore our American values. The U.S. Senate is considering President Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey as the next Attorney General. After Alberto Gonzales’ disastrous term, we must thoroughly examine Mukasey’s positions to determine if he is the right person for the job.
After meeting with Judge Mukasey and listening to his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’m convinced that he is not the right person. With his deeply troubling positions on torture, civil rights, and executive power, Judge Mukasey has failed to prove that he will put the rule of law above the priorities of the White House.
Therefore, I cannot in good conscience support his nomination.
What I’ve heard from Judge Mukasey is the same sort of evasiveness and disregard for the rule of law that characterized Alberto Gonzales’ term as Attorney General.
Mukasey’s position on torture is particularly worrisome. He refused to call waterboarding an act of torture and condemn the practice. He suggested that the Geneva Conventions may not apply to enemies we capture — a view that was soundly rejected by the Supreme Court.
These dangerous views conflict with those of the American people, and they raise the risk that our own soldiers could be subjected to barbaric treatment.
Judge Mukasey’s troubling views do not stop at torture. He has shown his support for broad Presidential powers, including the ability to detain U.S. citizens without charges and to collect illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens without a warrant.
Mukasey has also shown little regard for Americans’ civil rights. His record as a judge is filled with rulings against victims of discrimination — many of which were later overturned. When I asked him about his plan for reinvigorating the Justice Department’s weakened Civil Rights Division, his answers were vague and noncommittal.
These are not the traits and priorities the United States needs in its next Attorney General.
After the failure of Alberto Gonzales, we must give the American people an Attorney General with the independence, the judgment, and the commitment to fairness and equality that they expect.
Michael Mukasey is the wrong choice for Attorney General. I fear he would pick up right where Alberto Gonzales left off — serving as the President’s personal lawyer instead of the chief law enforcement officer of the United States.
I refuse to let that happen. We should never approve a nominee for Attorney General who rejects the rule of law.
The United States Senate must not confirm Michael Mukasey for Attorney General.
Cross posted at Daily Kos and Committee for a Democratic Majority