Nixon redux: "It's not a crime if nothing was done about it..."
Back in the halcyon days of Tricky Dick, we had this nugget of jurisprudence from one lawyer:
[Nixon, to David Frost]: "Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal."Now, our esteemed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, lauded prior to confirmation for his judicial temperament and experience, has taken on his new job with gusto, and refined this 'logic'.
First, he's declined to decide whether waterboarding is torture on the grounds that we're not doing it any more (for the time being):
Mukasey said in the letter that waterboarding -- a simulated drowning meant to coerce disclosures by a resisting prisoner -- is not part of a "limited set of methods" being used by CIA interrogators. Mukasey said he has found the current methods, which he did not specify, to be legal.(see also my post below)
"I understand that you and some other members of the (Judiciary) Committee may feel that I should go further in my review, and answer questions concerning the legality of waterboarding under current law," Mukasey wrote to Leahy. "I understand the strong interest in this question, but I do not think it would be responsible for me, as attorney general, to provide an answer."
Of course, should the preznit decide that the CIA should do waterboarding again, we'll just have that same convenient "grey area", to be filled with shredded OLC memos, blathering about the vagueness of statutes and treaties, and "reasonable people can disagree"....
Next on the agenda, warrantless wiretapping:
In today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Mike Mukasey refused to answer whether Bush had violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under the Terrorist Surveillance Program.(h/t to Think Progress)
Under questioning from Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Mukasey said he “can’t contemplate” a situation where President Bush would assert “Article II authority to do something that the law forbids.”
Specter shot back, “Well, he did just that in violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act…didn’t he?” Mukasey continued to hedge:MUKASEY:I think we are now in a situation where [that issue] had been brought within statutes, and that’s the procedure going forward
SPECTER: That’s not the point. The point is that he acted in violation of statutes, didn’t he?
MUKASEY: I don’t know whether he acted in violation of statutes.
That's all just "water over the cellophane wrapped over the mou..." -- umm, sorry, "... over the damned". That's sooooooooo 'yesterday'. Can't we just move on?!?!? After all, it's now "been brought within statutes" (thanks, spineless Democrats afeerd of the Republicans calling them "Osama bin Forgotten's little helpers"), and no one's breaking the law any more. Kind of like, "Don't put me in jail, I'm good now, I promise, and won't do any more axe murders...." Why should the Department of 'Just Us' prosecute the maladministration (see: "Nixon" and "not illegal")? And while we're at it, seeing as the DoJ can only thwart criminal actions, let's pass a law to give amnesty to the telecoms as well, so that we can prevent even citizen action in civil court that might hold lawbreakers actually accountable for their illegal actions....