Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, [email protected]
David Lerner, Riptide Communications, (212) 260-5000
Michael Mukasey is not fit to be Attorney General because he supports torture, illegal spying on Americans, and limitless powers for the Executive Branch. He made clear in the Senate confirmation hearing and in his letter to the Senate that he does not understand the difference between the role of the Attorney General and the role of Counsel to the President.
The Attorney General is the country's highest law enforcement official. As such, his obligation is to enforce the law – not to rationalize violations of the law by the government.
Michael Mukasey professes ignorance as to whether water-boarding is a form of torture unless he knows "the actual facts and circumstances" of its use. The "facts and circumstances" of water-boarding are quite straightforward. When a person is water-boarded, their head is held under water until the person begins to involuntarily "inhale" water. At that point, the victim is certain they will drown if not allowed to get air. It is a technique from the Spanish Inquisiton and illegal under international and domestic law. Instilling fear of imminent death as an interrogation technique is the very essence of torture, and no amount of legal analysis can come to any other conclusion.
Michael Mukasey asserts that as the Commander-in-Chief, the president can spy on Americans outside the law. He believes the president's Article II powers allow him to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) with impunity.
Michael Mukasey refuses to say that the laws of the U.S. place a limit on the actions of the president. On October 18, when Senator Patrick Leahy asked him, "Where Congress has clearly legislated in an area . . . if it's been legislated and stated very clearly what must be done, if you operate outside of that, whether it's with a presidential authorization or anything else, wouldn't that be illegal?" Mukasey responded, "That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country."
The Center for Constitutional Rights has stood firmly against Mukasey’s nomination for Attorney General from the start. Our country cannot afford to make compromises to our laws, our morals, and our humanity any longer. The Senate must stand up and vote against any candidate for Attorney General who would further undermine American justice and shred the Constitution.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.