When Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, suggested in his questioning that the 2005 opinions might authorize torture, Mr. Mukasey stopped him. “You characterize it as torture,” he said. “I do not know of such a policy and I hope not to find them.”
Nor would he comment in detail on the legality of the so-called warrantless wiretap program that was authorized by President Bush shortly after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been harshly criticized by civil liberties groups and lawmakers from both parties as possibly unconstitutional.
“I am not familiar with that program,” said Mr. Mukasey, who knew enough about the program to refer to it as the Terrorist Surveillance Program, the name preferred by the White House.
Why, even Glenn Greenwald has nice things to say about this best-of-a-bad-bunch rightwinger, because Mukasey bucked the Administration by allowing accused "dirty bomb" plotter and U.S. torture victim, Jose Padilla, the right to talk with his attorneys, or to challenge the evidence against him. Never mind that Mukasey upheld the indefinite detention of "enemy combatants" like Padilla. Never mind that Mukasey wants to initiate an entire new "national security court" for Bush's "war on terror", explaining that "conventional legal rules" are not "adapted to deal with a terrorist threat". Of course, Greenwald allows, "Judge Mukasey's respect for the Constitution and the rule of law should not be overstated."
Now that's an understatement.
Mukasey is an adviser (along with his white-collar criminal defense attorney son) to arch-militarist and scary GOP presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani. He wrote a paean to the Patriot Act in the Wall Street Journal, where he red-baited the American Library Association, and then threw out this sinister challenge to the primacy of the Bill of Rights:
A bill of rights was omitted from the original Constitution over the objections of Patrick Henry and others. It may well be that those who drafted the original Constitution understood that if you give equal prominence to the provisions creating the government and the provisions guaranteeing rights against the government--God-given rights, no less, according to the Declaration of Independence--then citizens will feel that much less inclined to sacrifice in behalf of their government, and that much more inclined simply to go where their rights and their interests seem to take them.
So, as the historian Walter Berns has argued, the built-in message--the hidden message in the structure of the Constitution--is that the government it establishes is entitled, at least in the first instance, to receive from its citizens the benefit of the doubt.
So, conventional opinion says Mukasey is a good guy, better than Gonzales, someone who will not politicize the Justice Department, is against torture, and also independent from the Bush circle -- hell, even Chuck Schumer likes the guy (he even suggested Mukasey to Bush as a possible Supreme Court nominee a while back). But if there ever was a poster boy for the degradation of political discourse and sensibility, and the failure of two-party politics in the age of American adventurism and imperial hubris abroad, it's Michael B. Mukasey.
A little dose of cynicism might cure an overdose of the Kool-Aid, which has the media snoring, and even leftie liberals prattling over business-as-usual in this dangerously oblivious land.