Memo to Sen. Dianne Feinstein: thanks a whole big bundle.
Too well I recall the morning last November when I read your stated intention to vote in favor of confirming Michael Mukasey as U.S. Attorney General. It made what would have been a pleasant breakfast at a local café go down quite a bit less easily. I narrowly averted embarrassment, because your characterizations of Judge Mukasey as independent-minded and repulsed by the idea of torture were such stuff as spit-takes are made on. I couldn’t believe that you, my home state’s senior senator, had watched the same confirmation hearings as I had and not come away similarly disgusted at Mukasey’s craven dodging of the torture issue.
Your op-ed included a desire to see Judge Mukasey come before the senate panel again to have another chat about the whole Dick Cheney/Jack Bauer-iziation of American justice thing. Well, who’s back on the Hill today but your guy Mike the AG, front and center, talking waterboarding and destroyed CIA interrogation tapes. You must’ve been geeked, armed with a bucket of popcorn and ready to see The Muke torque up and bring the outrage, huh?
There are times when a mere “I told you so” doesn’t seem to cover it.
How bad was it? Let’s pick up the play-by-play with Mukasey’s questioning by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who was trying to find out whether the Justice Department’s current investigation into the destruction of the CIA interrogation videotapes would apply to the content of the tapes, or only to their having been shredded.
The AG had been saying that there was no evidence to suggest that the recordings showed suspects being waterboarded or treated in any other maybe-kinda-sorta illegal manner, or at least none that wasn’t – you got it – classified, and therefore off-limits for discussion in a public hearing. Whitehouse called bullshit, pointing out that all you had to have done was read the newspaper or watched a little CNN to have heard credible sources statements that the tapes had showed exactly that kind of thing. The Rhode Islander continued:
WHITEHOUSE:…So, then the question is, you know, where do we stand? Because I think anybody who even has a public view of what’s going on would suggest that there’s something that might at least merit the beginning of inquiry as to whether an investigation might be opened.
MUKASEY: All of that depends on whether certification was given, whether permission was given and whether it was permissibly relied on. And it would not — it should not turn on one person’s current view of what the statute requires or doesn’t require, because if it does, the message is, it all changes.
WHITEHOUSE: But aren’t there two questions here? There is no exemption under [U.S. Code, Title 18, Section] 2340(a) depending on whether the conduct was authorized by a supervisory official or not. There is no Nuremberg defense built into this criminal statute.
…And I’m just trying to get, which is this? Is it that there aren’t facts well-developed? That doesn’t seem credible. Is it because there’s authorization, we’re not going to look at this no matter what? If that’s your position, fine, but let’s just say so and then I’ll understand.
MUKASEY: That’s not my position.
WHITEHOUSE: What is your position?
MUKASEY: My position is that there is an ongoing investigation and that I’m not going to speculate on what might or might not have happened, particularly with regard to authorizations.
WHITEHOUSE: But the ongoing investigation, as far as we know, is only into the destruction of tapes. It has nothing to do with the underlying interrogation, unless you’re telling me that that’s the forum. Is that the forum in which this will get decided?
MUKASEY: That is in part dependent on what [the] investigation shows.
WHITEHOUSE: Well, let’s hypothesize that a little further. If it shows that waterboarding took place…
MUKASEY: Let’s not hypothesize anything.
WHITEHOUSE: Well, there’s only two choices. It’s not going to take us a long time to discuss the alternatives, either it did or it didn’t.
MUKASEY: It’s not a question of it taking a long time. It’s a question of telling agents out there that we are investigating the CIA based on speculation about what happened and whether they got proper authorizations. And I don’t think that ought to be the message.
(transcript via TPM Muckraker)
I’ll say one thing for the Attorney General: the guy can cover some ground. I mean, from the Nuremberg defense to the McGwire defense in one round of questioning? That is range, people.
Dianne? Chuckie Schumer? Barbara Boxer, my other California homegirl? Harry Reid, our sheep in sheep’s clothing? Congressional Democrats, please please hear this: we still have almost a year of Bush left. NONE of you have even NEARLY handed that blithering numbnuts the mop and pail you said you had ready for him, and the shit he’s strewn everywhere is just sitting there. Hell, he’s adding to it!
It doesn’t work. You know, inviting them up to the Hill and hoping they’ll just casually admit, “Oh yeah, we eviscerated the Constitution and lied the country into a disastrous war and horribly tarnished America’s standing in the world. That was us, we’re here to turn ourselves in.” That’s a little much for your average slip of the tongue. What do you think this Administration is going to say about any of this stuff? Here’s a hint: you’ve heard it a million times over the last seven years.
And speaking of hearing something a million times, I don’t know how many more futile I-told-you-so’s I have left in me. Let me save a few to use on the Bush cabal when (please, oh please) they one day have to pay for all the damage they’ve done.