Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

10.30 When a Community College Transforms a City

10.30 The Female Pioneers Who Changed STEM Forever

10.29 Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns

10.27 The American Dream Is Leaving America

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.31 Chocolate compound restores age-related memory loss [Another business opportunity is born!]

10.31 Stanford engineers develop tiny, sound-powered chip to serve as medical device

10.31 Fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone: ‘The world is not safe’ [video]

10.30 The New Heroin Epidemic

10.30 As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost [audio clip]

10.30 Will a Breakthrough Solar Technology See the Light of Day?

10.30 Two genes linked with violent crime

10.28 Japan edges back towards nuclear power with vote to restart reactors

10.28 Living with anxiety: Britain's silent epidemic

News Media

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

Justice Matters

10.29 SEC Commissioner Kara Stein Fighting for Tougher Bank Sanctions, Stymies Bank of America Settlement

US Politics, Policy & Culture

10.31 Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability

10.30 Republican politicians aren't climate scientists or responsible leaders

10.30 Election 2014: Women's Rights in the Balance

10.30 Will a Republican Congress Be a Hot Mess?

10.29 More tea party conservatives expected to win House seats, challenge Boehner

10.29 The Great Kansas Tea Party Disaster

10.29 Charles Barkley and the Plague of 'Unintelligent' Blacks

10.29 Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy [26:47 video, transcript]

10.28 Detroit: The Dispersal of Urban Black America Begins [depressing]

10.28 The Secrets of New Jersey [must read]

10.28 Drilling Deeper: New Report Casts Doubt on Fracking Production Numbers [investor risk heightened from bad data]

High Crimes?

10.27 In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.31 Why Taxation Must Go Global

10.30 Oxfam warns wealth gap is spiralling out of control

10.29 On Superstorm Sandy Anniversary, Red Cross Under Scrutiny

10.29 Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General

10.28 7 things the middle class can't afford anymore [depressing]

10.28 Exploding Wealth Inequality in the United States

10.28 Why Do Banks Want Our Deposits? Hint: It’s Not to Make Loans.

10.27 The Stark Facts of Global Greed, a Disease as Challenging as Climate Change

International

10.31 Crisis in Mexico: Could Forty-Three Missing Students Spark a Revolution?

10.31 Government, Not the Private Sector, Leads Innovation

10.31 Bound for Syria: German Kurds Join Fight against Islamic State

10.31 New Alignments: The Kurds' Lonely Fight against Islamic State Terror

10.30 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: Get Used to Endless War

10.30 Tunisia election results: Nida Tunis wins most seats, sidelining Islamists

10.30 UAE's leading role against Isis reveals its wider ambitions

10.29 The Rise of ISIS [53:41 video]

10.29 Pope Francis: evolution and creation both right

10.29 The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here

10.29 Binyamin Netanyahu 'chickenshit', say US officials in explosive interview

10.28 Child poverty up in more than half of developed world since 2008

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Mukasey: Bush's New 'Mr. Cover-up'
Newspaper logo

SPECIAL JUSTICE FOR SPECIAL FRIENDS:

Mukasey: Bush's New 'Mr. Cover-up'

by Robert Parry

July 10, 2008—Even Sen. Charles Schumer, whose vote last year ensured Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as Attorney General, was left sputtering as Mukasey returned the favor by rebuffing Schumer’s concerns about the Bush administration’s political prosecutions.

At the end of his round of Senate Judiciary Committee questions, Schumer referred to allegations that White House political adviser Karl Rove had pressed for the selective prosecution of Alabama’s Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman, who was viewed as a threat to Republican dominance of the South.

“Do you think that someone in the Justice Department should ask Karl Rove whether he was involved, whether he did the things that are alleged – someone somewhere – or is there a possibility that no one should ever ask him?” the New York Democrat said, his voice rising.

Mukasey responded coolly that he would not endorse the questioning of Rove. In disgust, Schumer said, “I find these answers very disappointing.”

But Schumer was not alone. At the oversight hearings on July 9, the committee’s Democrats and the ranking Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, voiced varying levels of disappointment at Mukasey’s refusal to look back at the misconduct – including criminal acts – that had occurred earlier in the Bush administration.

Indeed, Mukasey’s evasive answers recalled the stonewalling of his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales. Mukasey’s vague and meandering responses made two things clear, however: George W. Bush’s hubris about what he sees as his unlimited presidential powers continues and Mukasey will serve as Bush's rearguard protector during his final six months in office.

In a separate confrontation with two House committees, Mukasey has promulgated a novel legal theory justifying his refusal to release FBI reports on interviews with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney about their roles in exposing the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Even though Bush has not asserted executive privilege regarding the FBI reports, Mukasey has refused to honor subpoenas from the House committees on the grounds that to do so would threaten “core Executive Branch confidentiality interests and fundamental separation of powers principles.”

Mukasey’s theory ignores a variety of precedents, including the public release of criminal-case testimony by Bush’s three predecessors (Bill Clinton on the Monica Lewinsky case, George H.W. Bush on the Passportgate affair and the Iran-Contra scandal, and Ronald Reagan on Iran-Contra.)

Nuremberg Defense

In his Senate testimony, Mukasey also left no doubt that the Justice Department would take no action against anyone in the administration who violated criminal statutes in the “war on terror” if they were following legal advice from superiors, a modern version of the so-called Nuremberg defense.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, urged Mukasey to “follow what I think is the clear standard of the law within your own department and initiate those investigations” into the Bush administration’s abuse of detainees, including the use of “waterboarding,” a form of simulated drowning.

Durbin noted that retired Major General Antonio Taguba, who was in charge of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse probe, stated recently that “the Commander in Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture” and that “there is no longer any doubt about whether the current administration committed war crimes, the only question that remains is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held accountable.”

Mukasey, however, responded that anyone who acted in “good faith” and relied on the Justice Department’s legal advice “cannot and should not be prosecuted.” The same protection should cover government lawyers who gave the advice, he said.

“What lawyers have to do is adhere to the law and not concern themselves with what might be politically acceptable later on, and if we go after them and prosecute them, then that’s exactly what they’re going to be concerned with,” Mukasey said.

Mukasey’s point was that the lawyers were adhering to the law – and acting above politics – when they authorized torture, and that politics only entered the picture when someone thought they should be punished for breaking the law.

The Attorney General's disdain for this subject was reflected, too, when he told the senators that he still hasn’t bothered to determine whether “waterboarding” is torture, arguing that he doesn’t need to make that judgment because the technique is no longer part of the administration’s approved tactics for interrogating detainees.

“I detect a very pronounced reluctance to look backwards into the problems at the Department of Justice,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, citing other troubling opinions from the department’s powerful Office of Legal Counsel that granted Bush virtually unlimited powers.

Whitehouse, who also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that in his review of still-secret legal opinions, “I’ve seen exaggerated and unreasonable claims of executive authority” as well as examples of poor scholarship. He called the OLC “George Bush’s little shop of legal horrors.”

Whitehouse also suggested that Congress had only a vague idea of other secret assertions of Bush’s powers. The senator cited an unreleased OLC opinion that would permit the President to violate or waive existing presidential executive orders without changing them or disclosing the waiver.

This notion of secret presidential waivers raises concerns that legal protections contained in executive orders could give false comfort to Congress and American citizens, Whitehouse said. But Mukasey endorsed Bush’s right to do whatever he wished regarding executive orders.

No Surprise

Though Schumer and other Democrats expressed annoyance at Mukasey’s refusal to hold the Bush administration accountable, the Attorney General’s biases should not have come as a surprise.

When he was picked in September 2007 to replace Gonzales, administration officials praised his work as a federal judge in New York where he approved the indefinite incarceration of hundreds of Muslims on phony material witness warrants after the 9/11 attacks. He also signed off on Bush imprisoning an American citizen – and Muslim convert – Jose Padilla simply on a presidential say-so that Padilla was an “unlawful enemy combatant.”

Ironically, the Mukasey-approved round-up of Arab cab drivers, pizza delivery men and students came as the Bush administration was granting special permission for rich Saudis, including members of Osama bin Laden’s family, to flee the United States after only cursory FBI questioning.

The arresting of the “usual suspects” – while the well-connected who actually might know something were whisked away – was perhaps the first signal of how Bush’s “war on terror” would proceed, draconian actions that create the appearance of a serious crackdown when the reality was quite different.

Before his confirmation, Mukasey demonstrated where his loyalties lay when he refused to venture an opinion on whether “waterboarding” amounted to torture, claiming that he had not been briefed about the program. That led most Democrats to oppose the nomination, but Schumer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California provided the Democratic votes needed to send Mukasey’s nomination to the Senate floor and to confirmation.

After taking over the Justice Department, Mukasey still showed no curiosity about the administration’s past use of torture or about the legal opinions underpinning Bush’s theories of unlimited presidential powers. The Attorney General insisted that his only interest was in looking to the future.

So, despite the belated fuming by Schumer and other senators at the July 9 hearing, Mukasey has long seen his role less as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer than as the chief protector of Bush’s crimes of state – from torture, to warrantless wiretaps of Americans, to exposing the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, to unleashing the Justice Department against political enemies, etc.

Michael Mukasey has become the Bush administration’s new “Mr. Cover-up.”


Robert ParryRobert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2008 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on July 10, 2008.

 



Public Service Ads:
Verifiable Voting in Maryland