Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NY Times editorial: Guilianiesque Mukasey

Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee to be attorney general, is being promoted as a “consensus choice,” which is meant to signal the Senate that it should be grateful and confirm him without delay. Mr. Mukasey is clearly better than some of the “loyal Bushies” whose names had been floated, but that should not decide the matter. The Senate needs to question him closely about troubling aspects of his record, and make sure he is willing to take the tough steps necessary to repair a very damaged Justice Department.

Mr. Mukasey has attributes that could make him a good attorney general. He has been a lawyer and federal district court judge in New York, where he enjoys a good reputation. Although he is not divorced from politics (he is on an advisory committee to Rudolph Giuliani’s campaign), it is unlikely that he would run the Justice Department as an adjunct of the White House, or a booster of the Republican Party, as Alberto Gonzales did.

Aspects of his record, however, are troubling. As a judge, he was too deferential to the government. In the case of Jose Padilla, who was accused of participating in a dirty bomb plot, he ruled that the president may detain American citizens indefinitely as “enemy combatants.” His dangerously narrow reading of the Constitution was rightly reversed by a federal appeals court.

In a 2004 Wall Street Journal op-ed article, Mr. Mukasey denounced the “hysteria” of Patriot Act critics, and lashed out at the American Library Association for trying to protect patrons’ privacy. He also made the dubious claim that based on the structure of the Constitution, the government should “receive from its citizens the benefit of the doubt.” And writing in The Journal this year, he promoted the truly awful idea of a separate national security court that would try suspected terrorists.

The Senate should question Mr. Mukasey about all of this, and about the government’s domestic spying program, which has operated illegally, and about which Mr. Gonzales has been unable to tell the truth.

Mr. Mukasey also needs to be asked, in detail, how he intends to fix the Justice Department. There is strong evidence that federal prosecutors brought cases to help Republicans win elections. Mr. Mukasey needs to promise that he will get to the bottom of these matters, and that he will make available the critical documents and witnesses that the administration has withheld.

Mr. Mukasey also needs to explain how he plans to remove the partisan political operatives put in nonpartisan positions under Mr. Gonzales and, more broadly, how he plans to restore the department’s integrity.

Mr. Bush also announced yesterday that he was replacing Acting Attorney General Paul Clement, who was to serve until the Senate confirmed Mr. Gonzales’s successor, with Peter Keisler, a hard-line movement conservative. Mr. Bush’s sleight of hand in installing Mr. Keisler is an unfortunate indication that he intends to keep the department politicized for as long as he can.

Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that the Senate would be reluctant to confirm Mr. Mukasey until the White House handed over key documents on issues like domestic surveillance. It should be. Senators also need to ask for more information directly from Mr. Mukasey. He may be worthy of confirmation, but the nation can only know for sure after careful, probing hearings.

The U.S. Congress needs to deny the Mukasey nomination and repeal the Jesuit-Georgetown authored so-called PATRIOT Act.

Yet according to the NY Times, Mukasey in 2004 said:

"That awkward name may well be the worse thing about the statute"
This is NO good.

Any Democrat (or Republican) voting to confirm him may one day be seen as guilty of treason against the U.S. Constitution and people.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

NY Times editorial:The Wrong Balance

The Wrong Balance on Civil Liberties

Following the dastardly attacks of 9/11, it was evident that the nation had to do some careful thinking about the proper balance between national security and civil liberties. Instead of care and balance, sadly, the Bush administration immediately lunged to claim extraordinary, and largely unnecessary, new powers. Aided by a compliant Congress, the administration repeatedly tried to shield the resulting intrusions on people’s rights from meaningful scrutiny, even by the courts.

Recently, however, a federal district judge in New York declared unconstitutional one notorious outgrowth of the Bush team’s approach: the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s overreliance on informal demands for information, called national security letters, to obtain private records from telephone and Internet companies, banks and other businesses without a court warrant.

The decision by Judge Victor Marrero struck down 2006 revisions to the Patriot Act that expanded the bureau’s power to use national security letters, and a 1986 law that first authorized such letters. The recent provisions not only compelled companies to turn over customers’ records without a warrant, but forbade them to tell anyone what they had done, including the customers involved. The authority of the courts to review challenges to the gag rule was extremely limited.

Judge Marrero took proper umbrage at the attempt to tightly confine the courts’ authority and to silence recipients of national security letters without meaningful judicial review. He declared that the measure violated both the First Amendment and the principle of separation of powers. The deference that the law required courts to give to the executive branch, he stated, could amount to “the hijacking of constitutional values.”

This was not the first time the courts had tried to curtail this new power. Judge Marrero enjoined an earlier version of the law in 2004, and a federal judge in Connecticut did the same in 2005. But Congress, which was still under Republican control, responded with changes that only created additional constitutional flaws.

In the absence of oversight, the number of surveillance letters has mushroomed, and so have the abuses. A report issued last March by the Justice Department’s inspector general found that between 2003 and 2005, the F.B.I. issued an astonishing 143,000 requests using the letters, often in violation of the bureau’s own regulations, and sometimes in violation of the law. Three days after Judge Marrero’s ruling, Eric Lichtblau reported in The Times that the F.B.I. used the secret letters to obtain information not only on individuals it viewed as targets but also on people who came in contact with the targets.

Lawmakers in both parties have voiced disapproval of the F.B.I.’s abuse of national security letters. But they have not made a sustained push to fix the law that created this mess. Judge Marrero’s ruling should change that.

David Addington: Another Eichmann?

David Addington
Found in The Next Hurrah:

The Banality of the Unitary Executive

Except relating to one thing. David Addington. By far the biggest surprise to me, in terms of personal impressions, is David Addington.

As I've been reminding at every opportunity, David Addington is Mr. Unitary Executive, the guy who has provided legal justification for many of Cheney's biggest power grabs: torture, extraordinary rendition, domestic spying, and so on.

I truly expected his interviews to be terribly hostile. I truly expected to see Addington bristle at every question. But that didn't happen.

To me, David Addington has all the mannerisms and look of a physics or computer science professor. He has the beard of a professor, [a Jesuit professor] the modest (at least looking) suit, and he's kind of big-shouldered.

I found his response to questions even more interesting. He simply answered them, with no hesitation. He was apt to offer up information rather than hold it back. He would wander on and on, explaining all the details surrounding something (I remember his description of various classifications, for example, as this long conversation, "and then ... and then ... and then"). He is so obviously steeped in this world and these regulations that he just holds forth on them, with almost no filter.

And there seemed to be no effort to protect Libby--or even Cheney. This became most clear when Fitzgerald started talking about the document on which Cheney mentioned Bush (then crossed it out). Fitzgerald's point was that OVP had stamped a classification that is not really a classification on these documents--Treated as Top Secret/SCI--that is, as Addington explained, not really a classification, "treated as." Pretty damning stuff, catching Cheney and Libby protecting their own deliberations by classifying the hell out of them, inventing new classifications.

And Addington just described this as he had everything else, wandering on in a seemingly endless mumble. He showed no hint of trying to hide this information, no hint of embarrassment that the guy who is, after all, still his boss was trying to pull a fast one to protect his own actions.

Not what I expected.
A response:

While you're doing a great job with the blogging, it's nice to have you back thinking. Your surprise at Addington's persona came through in your trial narrative. It made me think of a book I read a long time ago [name blowing in the wind]. It was about the long interrogation of Adolf Eichmann. His interrogator was determined to get at the root of his hatefilled antisemitism. Instead, what he found was an emotionally blunted obsessive compulsive who was worried about meeting production deadlines - without much registering that what he was producing was murdered human beings. In Eichmann's trial, his "sole defense was claiming that he had been a petty government functionary, merely following the orders of superiors." [Wikipedia] That's probably a tragic truth.

That's how Addington sounded to me - caught up in the precise details and legalese but emotionally isolated from the impact of his pronouncements on the country. He seemed to light up slightly when he went on and on about procedures, or definitions. I suspect he reads the Dictionary in the shade when he goes to the beach.

So I wasn't so taken with his Narcissism as some of the other commentors. I thought he was more the obsessive sidekick of that Megalomaniac he works for whose emotional range only goes from "none" to "contempt" and back again [you know, the one on Blitzer's Situation Room the other day]...

Posted by: mickey | January 31, 2007 at 19:38

Added: September 12, 2009:


Addington graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1974. He was admitted to United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and attended beginning in Fall 1974, but did not graduate. He is a graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University (B.S.F.S., summa cum laude) and holds a J.D. (with honors) from Duke University School of Law.[7] He was admitted to the bar in 1981.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Save Habeas Corpus

Tell Congress: Save Habeas Corpus, Restore our Constitution


From Act for Change

Did you know that President Bush now has the power to declare anyone he wants, including U.S. citizens, to be an "enemy combatant" -- and imprison them indefinitely without access to our court system?

Last September, Congress shamefully passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) -- which codified the suspension of habeas corpus rights, and allowed the government to continue holding prisoners at Guantanamo (and other secret sites) indefinitely with no access to a fair hearing in court.

Indefinite imprisonment without judicial review is unconstitutional -- and fundamentally un-American. It's a hallmark of fascist dictatorships, not constitutional democracies like ours.

Fortunately, there is movement in Congress to restore this fundamental consitutional right. This Monday, September 14th, the Senate is expected to resume debate on the Department of Defense Authorization bill and vote on S.185, the Specter-Leahy amendment to restore habeas corpus. This will be the first full up-or-down vote in Congress on restoring habeas corpus, and could give Guantanamo prisoners the long-denied right to independent review of their detention.

If our moral standing in the world community is ever to be restored, this bill is a very good first step.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

U.S. V.P. Cheney lawyer David Addington: "We're one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court."

Warrant less Spying Legal Architect - Torture Advocate a graduate of Jesuit Georgetown Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

New Book Details Cheney Lawyer's Efforts to Expand Executive Power 05 Sep 2007 Vice President [sic] Cheney's top lawyer [David S. Addington, now Cheney's chief of staff], pushed relentlessly to expand the powers of the executive branch and repeatedly derailed efforts to obtain congressional approval for aggressive anti-terrorism policies for fear that even a Republican majority might say no, according to a new book -- "The Terror Presidency" -- written by a former senior Justice Department official... [Jack L.] Goldsmith.

[It] described Addington as "the chief legal architect of the Terrorist Surveillance Program," which bypassed the secret court that administers FISA and allowed the National Security Agency to spy on communications between the United States and overseas without warrants. In a February 2004 meeting, Addington said sarcastically: "We're one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court."


David Addington

from Wikipedia:

Education and career

Addington graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1974. He is a graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and holds a J.D. from Duke University School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1981.

Addington was assistant general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1981 to 1984. From 1984 to 1987 he was counsel for the House committees on intelligence and international relations. He served as a staff attorney on the joint U.S. House-Senate committee investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal as an assistant to Congressman Dick Cheney, and was one of the principal authors of a controversial minority report issued at the conclusion of the joint committee's investigation.[3]

Addington was also a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan for one year in 1987, before becoming Reagan's deputy assistant. He was Republican counsel on the Iran-Contra committee in the 1980's. From 1989 to 1992, Addington served as special assistant to the Secretary of Defense, before becoming the Department of Defense's general counsel in 1992.

From 1993 to 2001, he worked in private practice, for law firms Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz and Holland & Knight, and the American Trucking Associations.[3] He headed a political action committee, the Alliance for American Leadership, set up in large part to explore a possible presidential candidacy for Mr. Cheney.

Vice President's Office

After he began working for Vice President Cheney, Addington was very influential in many different areas of policy. He authored or helped to shape many of the most controversial policies of the Bush administration.[2] Addington's influence strongly reflects his hawkish views on U.S. foreign policy, a position he had apparently already committed to as a teenager during the late phase of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.[4]

Addington has consistently advocated that under the Constitution, the President has unlimited powers as commander in chief during wartime. In October 2005, Addington was tapped to become the Vice President's chief of staff, replacing I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who had resigned after being indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. He is the legal force behind over 750 signing statements President Bush has added to bills passed by Congress. Addington was a legal advisor to President Reagan, and suggested that such signing statements be used to exempt President Reagan from responsibility for the Iran-Contra scandal.

Addington helped to shape an August 2002 opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that said torture might be justified in some cases.[5] He advocates scaling back the authority of lawyers in the uniformed services. According to Jack Goldsmith, the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2003 to 2004, Addington once said that "we’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious court,” referring to the secret FISA court that oversees clandestine wiretapping. [6] He consistently advocates the expansion of presidential powers and Unitary Executive theory, nearly absolute deference to the Executive Branch from Congress and the Federal judiciary. In a June 26, 2007 letter to Senator John Kerry, Addington asserted that by virtue of Executive Order 12958 as amended in 2003 that the Office of the Vice President was exempt from oversight by the Information Security Oversight Office for its handling of classified materials.[4]

Addington was mentioned by title in "Scooter" I. Lewis Libby Jr.'s indictment for five felony charges related to the Plame affair, regarding the leak of the identity of a CIA officer.[7]

War Crimes Prosecution

In November 2006, the German government received a complaint seeking the prosecution of Addington for alleged war crimes.[5]


Office of information Awareness logo
with Masonic pyramid to the back and to the left of the globe
The Edmund a. Walsh School of Foreign Service of Jesuit Georgetown University was founded in 1919 under the generalate of Father Wlodimir Ledochowski: February 11, 1915 - December 13, 1942

Edmund A. Walsh S.J.