Sunday, March 02, 2008

The latest from Attorney General Michael Mukasey: he won't prosecute two ex-administration officials for contempt of Congress because their refusal to testify had been authorized by the President, who has taken the doctrine of "executive privilege" to mean that he can declare just about any inconvenient fact to be outside of Congressional purview. If that rips the guts out of Congress's power to oversee the executive branch, what of it? That self-same Congress ripped the guts out of habeas corpus a few years ago, so they can hardly stand on principle now.

A few weeks ago, I noted the dilemna faced by our majority-Democratic Senate in Mukasey's confirmation hearings:

... there were those who quibbled on such minor things as his refusal to say clearly whether one of the Spanish Inquisition's favorite torture techniques was actually torture. They believed that the Democrats needed to stand firm and demand that Mukasey show he clearly believed in accountability and the long-established principles of the rule of law. But these impractical idealists were confronted with the pragmatic realities of the situation: if they failed to confirm Mukasey, we'd all be stuck with a time-serving former deputy of the disgraced Alberto Gonzales, who would do Dubya's bidding and nothing else.
At the time, I didn't think the vote had made much of a practical difference. But it seems I was wrong. If anyone in Congress complains about Mukasey now, Dubya and his minions can point out in unaccustomed candor that Congressional Democrats approved the son of a bitch.


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