Boston Globe: The nominee is unresponsive
Here’s the Boston Globe on Judge Mukasey’s disappointing performace in front of the Judiciary Committee yesterday:
AFTER REASSURING senators Wednesday that he would not take orders from political aides in the Bush White House, Michael Mukasey yesterday gave Judiciary Committee members reason to wonder if he would be much different from former attorney general Alberto Gonzales on other issues. Gonzales resigned under fire in August in the face of allegations that he presided over a house-cleaning of nine US attorneys for partisan political reasons and then made misrepresentations in testimony to Congress.
In the second day of his confirmation hearing to succeed Gonzales, Mukasey, a former federal judge, declined to say whether the simulated drowning technique of waterboarding is torture. He also repeated President Bush’s belief that the resolution passed by Congress just after Sept. 11, 2001, gives the president the right to ignore a 1978 law banning warrantless wiretapping of Americans.
His answer on waterboarding – “if it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional” – disappointed Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. “That is a massive hedge,” Whitehouse said. “I am very disappointed in that answer. I think it is purely semantic.”
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Nothing that Mukasey said, or left unsaid, in his testimony amounts to the bombshell that committee members feel would be required to turn the panel against his confirmation. He might indeed be the most independent and least ideological nominee that Bush would ever name. But his testimony provided little evidence that he would act decisively to find out how, under Gonzales, the Justice Department became an enforcement arm of the White House political operation. The country needs a check on the Bush-Cheney campaign to expand presidential power, not another enabler.