It's one thing to vote against a torture enabler only to see that torture enabler confirmed anyway, but it's another thing to actually kill the nomination.
Who among the Senate Democrats is willing to end Michael Mukasey's nomination and confirmation process right here and now? Outright block it -- filibuster it -- stop it in committee or on the floor when (and if) it comes up for a full senate vote.
Some of the Democrats, including most recently Senator Clinton, have declared their intention to vote against Mukasey for attorney general. That's awesome, but so what. Many of the very same Democrats we're hearing from this week also voted against Alberto Gonzales. But Gonzales was confirmed despite widespread protest. And the president won the day... anyway. But at least they voted against Gonzales. That shut the president right the fuck up, didn't it?
And now, almost three years after voting to confirm the Gonzales Disaster for attorney general, we're staring down the barrel -- or in this case, the water jug -- of another attorney general who obfuscates the truth about torture, and who, once confirmed, will continue to subversively retain America's franchise of torture hostels.
For too many years now, we've watched the president in plain sight, and despite his reputation in certain media circles for "knowing where he stands," dance around both the English language and the rule of law in order to justify torture.
We've watched his administration erode any remaining dignity and honor our nation possessed.
We've watched this regime affirm many of our conspiratorial suspicions about the demons lurking in America's citadels.
We've watched them transform a decade of peace followed by a brief era of world unity into a dark age of fear, distrust, paranoia, hatred and corruption.
We've become Colonel Flagg from M*A*S*H.
It's no shocker that the president would nominate an attorney general who's perpetuating this humiliatingly shameful chain of events.
In his October 24 letter to Senator Leahy in which he was supposed to clarify his posture on torture, Mukasey employed the administration's sneaky language and referenced the McCain Amendment as a means to acknowledge that we don't torture:
"Congress further extended the prohibition with the McCain Amendment (enacted as part of the Detainee Treatment Act in 2005), which statutorily bars cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and reaffirms our treaty commitment."
And in his October 30 letter to the Judiciary Committee, Mukasey makes this case again:
"...'waterboarding' cannot be used by the United States military because its use by the military would be a clear violation of the Detainee Treatment Act."
That's just super. It's a shame that it's such horseshit. First, note the repeated usage of the word "military" but no mention of the CIA or miscellaneous. Second, Mukasey failed to mention that President Bush rendered the Detainee Treatment Act and its McCain Amendment provisions quaint and obsolete with the following signing statement:
"The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks."
In other words, if the president thinks it's in our best interest (like No Child Left Behind and Supreme Court Nominee Harriet Miers), he can use his Commander In Chief powers to do whatever the hell he wants as often as he wants. Screw the Detainee Treatment Act and the McCain Amendment -- McCain isn't the decider. The president gets to decide when and how often we torture the evildoers. By the same logic, it goes without saying that the president's signing statement would likely be duplicated for Senator Biden's new anti-torture legislation as well.
These references to the Detainee Treatment Act in Mukasey's letters are an insult to the intelligence of anyone who respects the rule of law -- or hell, anyone who respects reality.
On the insulting tip, Senator Leahy, according to TPM on Tuesday, is feeling the sting of yet another administration torture flimflam. This time, the administration released four "undisclosed documents" to the Judiciary Committee. Turns out, three of those four documents were already made public.
This is your Bush administration. And Mukasey has to be turned away.
It shouldn't be this difficult. Waterboarding is torture. Holy shit. How disgraceful is it that Americans have been forced to define waterboarding and various other torture techniques in the first place? Yet thanks to the Bush administration here we are anyway, and the Mukasey hearings haven't even really enumerated the syllabus of other enhanced interrogation techniques presently listed on the American torture menu.
Why is Mukasey and the White House being deliberately deceptive? Naturally because we're torturing detainees. Right damn now.
And if that makes you feel safer, then you're an idiot.
You're an idiot for fearing Filet-O-Fascism in the first place, since, despite what Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee say, the Filet-O-Fascists are absolutely not the biggest threat America has ever faced. Not by a long, long, long shot. Giuliani, Huckabee and the other fear-merchants are, in effect, inflating the egos of al-Qaeda by elevating their strength and capabilities to a level more dangerous than Nazi Germany or the Cold War Soviets. Talk about emboldening the enemy.
So the Democratic Majority has a choice to make here. They can allow another Bush administration torture enabler to pass on through an ineffectual gauntlet of protest, but pass on through nonetheless. Or the Democrats can use their majority status to render the Bush administration's torture policy quaint and obsolete.
UPDATE: Here's a classic video from FOX & Friends, circa one year ago. Since waterboarding is just "splashing water on them," I wonder if Steve Doocy would be open to showing us how it's done.
And I think Republican candidates should take Kilmeade's advice. Run on a pro-torture, pro-waterboarding platform. See how that works out next November.