Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A barrier to confirmation

By Creature

With the Senate Judiciary Committee expected to give attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey a torture-free pass toward confirmation this week, Jonathan Turley, constitutional scholar and Olbermann favorite, frames what should be the Democrat's line in the sand, but unfortunately is not.

This confirmation vote should be about torture. It is truly a defining issue, not just of the meaning of torture but of the very character of our country. It is the issue that distinguishes a nation fighting for the rule of law from a nation that is a threat to it. If members of the Senate consider torture to be immoral, they must vote against Mukasey.

If the administration is unable to find a nominee who will denounce torture, then it should be left with an acting attorney general who will lead the department without the consent of the Senate. After all, there are worse things than being denied confirmation. You could be water-boarded, for example.

The elephant in the room here, and the reason why there is a need to fight Mukasey's confirmation, is his answer to the water-boarding question. Mukasey stated that he did not "know what is involved in the technique." A truly bizarre answer considering that water-boarded has been part of the national conversation for years now. As Turley points out, there are only two explanations for Murkasey's answer. He is either woefully "ill-informed" or he is "lying."

My money is on the latter, and if the Judiciary Committee accepts this deception, as with former Attorney General Gonzales, and moves Mukasey along to the full Senate they are responsible for the consequences. What the Democrats fail to realize is that a fight on principle is far more acceptable, and, I would argue, politically savvy, than a collapse for the sake of political expediency, which is exactly what giving a pass to Mukasey would be.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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