Senate Judiciary should not confirm Mukasey

It would be a serious mistake for the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm Judge Michael Mukasey’s nomination as attorney general to replace Alberto Gonzales, Common Cause said in a letter sent Monday to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Mukasey provided evasive answers to critical questions about whether “waterboarding” is torture, feigning ignorance of the procedure and dodging the question when it was defined for him.

“An attorney general’s first job is to protect the rule of law, not to protect a President,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar said in the letter. “We have just seen the damage caused when an attorney general places partisan loyalty above law. The country cannot withstand more of such disregard for the rule of law.”

Waterboarding has been an infamous form of torture dating back as far as the Spanish Inquisition, and it is banned under the U.S.-adopted Geneva Convention. Judge Mukasey has reportedly assured Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) that if Congress passed a law banning waterboarding and other forms of torture, that the president would have no authority to ignore it.

Yet his evasive public answers about waterboarding show a contempt for Congress and a disturbing willingness to turn his back on the law when the alternative – acknowledging the illegality of waterboarding – could have troubling implications for the President who nominated him.

“It is the nation’s hope that a new attorney general will be a fresh start for a Justice Department that Gonzales tarnished through his partisanship and left in tatters,” Edgar said in the letter. “That hope cannot be served by a nominee who begins by dissembling over what the law is in order to protect the Administration and the Justice Department from possible unpleasant ramifications even before he has been confirmed.”

Click here to read the full text of the letter.