Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mukasey's Paradox & Other Mischief

It has taken no time at all to understand that in his own way Attorney General Michael Mukasey is even worse than Alberto Gonzalez. That is because he is more clever than Gonzo in doing the White House's bidding, which is to say suborning the law at every opportunity.

Law school prof Jonathan Turley has reached a not dissimilar conclusion in writing in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece that:
"The recent decisions of . . . Mukasey to block any prosecution of Bush administration officials for contempt and to block any criminal investigation of torture led to a chorus of criticism. Many view the decisions as raw examples of political manipulation of the legal process and overt cronyism. I must confess that I was one of those crying foul until I suddenly realized that there was something profound, even beautiful, in Mukasey's action.

"In his twisting of legal principles, the attorney general has succeeded in creating a perfect paradox. Under Mukasey's Paradox, lawyers cannot commit crimes when they act under the orders of a president -- and a president cannot commit a crime when he acts under advice of lawyers."
It is worth noting for the umpteenth time that none of this mischief might have transpired had feckless Democratic leaders like Senator Charles Schumer drawn the line at Mukasey's nomination hearing when he bobbed and weaved on what constituted torture and blew them off by saying that he'd get back to them after he was sworn in.

As Turley also notes, that is the ultimate paradox.

Meanwhile, there is the reason that Mukasey was nominated in the first place: Gonzalez couldn't keep his stories straight about why nine U.S. attorneys had been sacked, eventually had to resign and is now lawyering up for coming legal fireworks.

Although the answer is something of an open secret, Congress wants to know where the orders to purge the attorneys came from.

This prompted contempt citations against, Joshua Bolten, President Bush's chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, the prez's former counsel and failed Supreme Court wannabe, after the White House claimed executive privilege and refused to let them testify. Mukasey has dutifully said he will not refer the contempt citations to a federal grand jury.

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who like other Democratic bigs seems to show up for work with a spine on some days but not on others, has responded that she will give the House Judiciary Committee the authority to file a civil lawsuit against Bolten and Miers in federal court.

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