Obama: "I Cannot Support" Mukasey For AG

Barack Obama's campaign sends over the following statement:

"We urgently need an Attorney General who will check the vast and unconstrained executive powers that have been accumulated under the Bush-Cheney Administration. Judge Mukasey has failed to send a clear signal that he understands the legal and moral issues that are at stake for our country, and so I cannot support him.

"No nominee for Attorney General should need a second chance to oppose torture and the unnecessary violation of civil liberties. It's time to stop the political parsing and to close the legal loopholes. Waterboarding is torture, and so are other 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like 'head-slapping' and 'extreme temperatures.' It's time to reclaim our values and reaffirm our Constitution."

Earlier today Chris Dodd came out firmly against Mukasey, prompting us to ask what the other Dem Senators running for President would say about this. We now have Obama's answer. What will the third Senator say?

Comments (42)

Anonymous wrote on October 29, 2007 5:55 PM:

Ball's in your court, Hillary. You know what to do...

dcshungu wrote on October 29, 2007 6:01 PM:

I fully agree with this forceful position...

Bush must be held accountable from now until he leaves office. That is the only way to ensure that he'll think long and deep before undertaking any action that would further damage the nation...like launching a war of choice against Iran, that, as the Unitary President, he would feel "entitled" to launch om whim, even without the non-binding K-L bill.

An AG serves at the discretion of the president, but both he and the president serve the people...something that has been lost on Bush.

Anonymous wrote on October 29, 2007 6:15 PM:

OK, dcshungu, so where's your candidate HRC on this one?

Diverik wrote on October 29, 2007 6:31 PM:

"We urgently need an Attorney General who will check the vast and unconstrained executive powers that have been accumulated under the Bush-Cheney Administration."

This statement from Obama says it all.

Mukasey could not give a clear answer on whether the president is required to obey federal statutes. He should not be confirmed regardless of his answer to the waterboarding question. We can’t have another AG that believes that the president is above the law.

“…in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense

Jake D. wrote on October 29, 2007 6:33 PM:

So, Obama would not subject a known terrorist to 10 seconds under cellophane -- where water doesn't even get into the mouth or nose -- in order to save the lives of 300 million Americans (see thread below)?

Me_again wrote on October 29, 2007 6:42 PM:

Well, things have change a bit, since Mukasey gave Sen. Leahy his verison of "let me spit on you senator" clarification, in which Mukasey told Leahy, he'll do whatever Bush says, end of story.

Mukasey looking for a better pension policy in his old age or whatever, Mukasey is going be Bush's next yes-man. Why vote for Gonzales all over again.

I don't get TMP's snide remark, since Mukasey "clarified" on how Bush is going to be THE boss and Mukasey the lawyer like Gonzales, that will make whatever Bush wants the DOJ policy, so then Obama has the right to change his opinion based on unfolding events - I don't see anything wrong with that.

I guess Obama isn't a "stay the course" kind of guy so why wouldn't that be a refreshing change?

Hillary is so vague and non-committal, that we don't even know if she really intents to get out of Iraq or not with her talk about protecting our vital national interest and NOT leaving until 2013. I guess she is banking on two terms keeping us in Iraq the whole damn time.

Joe Bonham wrote on October 29, 2007 6:42 PM:

Jake..if you're body count goes any higher, with any luck YOU will be in there too.

dhs wrote on October 29, 2007 6:50 PM:

My opinion of Senator Obama has gone up with this stand. Now if we could only get the rest of the Democrats to stand firmly on principle and hold the Bush administration accountable, we might begin to get some traction on the fundamental issues facing the country.

Anonymous wrote on October 29, 2007 7:00 PM:

Jake D. -- you've made your affection for trade-off scenarios painfully (so to speak) obvious.

Can I propose a new one: If Greg agrees to hold his breath underwater for 10 seconds, will you go away? Or if 6 posters on this thread do so? I'm sure I can rustle up the volunteers.

wes2 wrote on October 29, 2007 7:02 PM:

I seem to have missed the evolution of the blogosphere consensus on this one. What happened to Mukasey being better than Peter Kessler continuing on in the job, or Ted Olson or anyone else from the likely parade of horribles?

BrewhouseBob wrote on October 29, 2007 7:03 PM:

I'm disappointed that it took Obama so long to state the obvious, but at least he's done it. I've expressed this same opinion to all of my elected representatives. Please everyone, do the same.

JubleJohnson wrote on October 29, 2007 7:04 PM:

Good.Mukasey don't deserve to be AG.This guy should never have even been looked at after his stance on Jose Padilla, an American.But moreoever,The jackasses in Dem leadership(Schumer)who suggested this creep to the Prez,shows that many in the Dem party are just as corrupt to the core like the Repukes.
Why shouldn't Sen Schumer be asked to go away with Mukasey ?

Aviator wrote on October 29, 2007 7:16 PM:

Too easy, Jake. The question here is whether torture (in whatever form - waterboarding, extreme stress positions, physical abuse - take your pick) is going to be the POLICY of the United States government. Currently, it is and it should not be.

What you are talking about with your absurd hypothetical is another question entirely. Sure, in Jake's Fantasy World, you torture the suspect and THEN YOU OWN UP TO IT PUBLICLY and let a system of laws decide whether the circumstances warranted your actions - thus why we have in our jurisprudence the concept of defense of self and others to prevent imminent peril of death or great bodily harm. It is not enough to say "I tortured because I am a patriot" - you have to also be willing to defend the decision and accept the consequences, if any.

Its that crazy notion of being accountable under the law. What they want - and what we should never give - is for the executive branch to have both the ability to torture and control over the process, if any, that determines whether it was right. That, you moron, is the key to an authoritarian regime.

Or, to put it in terms you can understand....Do you really want a democrat (say, HRC) to have access to all of the power accumlated in the executive under Bush? (Probably not - but only because they wouldn't use it with sufficient dispatch to fuel your seething hatred...)

horseface wrote on October 29, 2007 7:22 PM:

Obama is lord.

JR wrote on October 29, 2007 7:28 PM:

I'm sure Hillary needs time to first study the Mukasey matter - just like she studied the NIE report in 2003.

Anonymous wrote on October 29, 2007 7:31 PM:

egypt probably used cellophane on zawahiri in the early '80s and that turned out really well, didn't it?

Jake D. wrote on October 29, 2007 7:35 PM:

Joe and Anonymous:

I'm not going anywhere.


One alternate outcome (because we can't even put something innocuous like Dershowitz's "torture warrants" in place) is that some weasely, snot-nosed bureaucrat decides NOT to torture and therefore 300 million American lives that could have easily been saved are lost -- we already know that Obama is O.K. with that result -- once TPM starts a thread on Hillary's (in)decision, I would be happy to discuss her too.

On the Clock wrote on October 29, 2007 7:36 PM:

Obama needed to say something, anything, today to obscure his mishandling of the "saved" preacher's support.

This is merely a "no" vote, not a filibuster or a hold. It's to stem bleeding on the progressive blogs.

Petbo wrote on October 29, 2007 7:37 PM:

Jake, if it does not not feel life threatening, it is not torture. There is no such thing as 'a little' torture....

Jake D. wrote on October 29, 2007 7:41 PM:


10 seconds under cellophane is objectively NOT life-threatening -- regardless of what it "feels" like subjectively -- thank you for agreeing with me : )

Jake D. wrote on October 29, 2007 7:43 PM:

Follow-up question to the Obama campaign:

What would you consider "necessary" violation of civil liberties?

tekel wrote on October 29, 2007 7:51 PM:

Wes2: I seem to have missed the evolution of the blogosphere consensus on this one. What happened to Mukasey being better than Peter Kessler continuing on in the job, or Ted Olson or anyone else from the likely parade of horribles?

That was before Mukasey came out as pro-torture and anti-rule of law. Sure, he's better than Ted Olson, but then the same could be said of any random drunken bum you could pull off the top of a sewer grate in DC. "Bob the Wino- he'll do better than Ted Olson!" Simply being more willing to actually uphold his oath to defend the Constitution than Ted Olson is a pretty damn low bar to get over.

If the rest of the Administration were anything but a banana-republic junta, Mukasey might be good enough. But as someone who will be expected to uphold the laws of this nation even against other members of the Executive branch, his testimony was utterly unconvincing.

rssrai wrote on October 29, 2007 7:54 PM:

I nw longer support Obama for my second choice. It is very sad that he was not the first to come out against Mukasey. He always seems to take the wait and see approach on everything. He even has to get approval from the press on his new agressiveness, or whatever you want to call it. Taking a repugs stance on social security is not turning over a new page, but just turning over a new repug page.

NCSteve wrote on October 29, 2007 7:57 PM:

Yes, Jake D. Obama, like that other flaming terrorist loving liberal John McCain, believes we shouldn't do things that we hanged Japanese generals for ordering done to our troops.

And terrorists who have the ability to kill all 300 million Americans? And we can stop it by torturing one person? Alll-righty then.

DTM wrote on October 29, 2007 8:01 PM:

Jake D.,

Rather than discuss contrived hypotheticals in which torture miraculously saves the lives of 300 million Americans, why don't we discuss the real world use of torture and its effects?

In the real world, throughout history, torture has been used to extract confessions. Those confessions have then been used by those who tortured to rationalize various pre-conceived courses of conduct, such as punishing the person tortured, increasing their own power, further violence including more torture and military action, and so on. Torture tends to cause long term strategic harm to those torturing, however, because it alienates potential allies and invigorates enemies.

But maybe your idea is that the United States will be a grand exception to the real world usages and effects of torture. Except we already know we aren't an exception at all.

Aviator wrote on October 29, 2007 8:03 PM:

Jake, you're still missing the point. There is nothing inherently incongruous about saying "waterboarding is torture and therefore its use is contrary to our democratic principles and not the policy of this government" on the one hand and "circumstances may warrant the use of torture in certain extreme circumstances" on the other. As I see it, the dems are only demanding that an AG candidate be able to commmit to the former as a matter of principle.

Calling a spade a spade and denouncing torture as a policy does not logically lead to the 300 million dead that you are so irrationally tied to. And suggesting that Obama is "ok with that" is either rank stupidity or intellectual dishonesty. The problem here is that the Bush admin wants to have the ability to torture and be the sole arbiter of whether the circumstances justified the methods. If your position is really that the only way to ensure the safety of this country is to give one individual the unfettered ability to authorize torture without any governance or oversight then you really ought to think about ending it because who in their right mind would want to live in such a society?

Jeremy wrote on October 29, 2007 8:03 PM:

Jake D. Suppose the terrorist in your far-fetched hypothetical didn't crack. Now suppose we have information that he loves his 10 year old son very dearly. In fact, our psychologists tell us the only way to break him is to torture his 10 year old son in front of him. What say you? 300 million lives are at stake, after all. Now, shouldn't we have some contingency in place in our law for torturing children just in case 300 million lives can be saved?

Of course, this is a reductio ad absurdem of your approach to this debate. We don't need any such contingency just because we can dream up "clever" scenarios that make our moral sensibilities whirl at the objection "yes, but 300 million lives are at stake!". Torture should be against our policy.

MarcNYC wrote on October 29, 2007 8:56 PM:

Jake D - Let's try this again.

1. Look up "verschaerfte vernehmung".

2. stop confusing 24 with reality.

3. Blackstone, 250 years ago wrote: "better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer". Over 330 years ago, Fortescue wrote: "one would much rather that twenty guilty persons should escape the punishment of death, than that one innocent person should be condemned and suffer capitally".

4. Otto von Bismarck once stated "it is better that ten innocent men suffer than one guilty man escape". Pol Pot made a similar statement.

I'll take Blackstone and Fortescue. You can have Pol Pot and von Bismark. And, don't forget to look up "verschaerfte vernehmung".

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Ben Franklin, 1755 (Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor) Tue, Nov 11, 1755.

kozmik wrote on October 29, 2007 9:33 PM:

Good on Obama. I'm so tired of committees holding their noses to approve marginal candidates.

Gonzo was a complete moron and hack. I don't want to see anyone of his caliber in any office, neither for a Republican or Democrat. He's an embarrassment to the country. Same goes for Brown, Chertoff, and on and on. Bush has filled one dept after another with political hacks whose only qualification is loyalty.

Now Mukasey has made clear he lacks any spine or professional responsibility and just wants the job presumably for it's own sake. Not good enough. Not even close to meriting the Consent of Congress, a Constituional Responsibility to conform ONLY qualified and centrist candidates.

The AG is one of the most important people in America, and frankly the world, in history. It's about time we get competent, centrist, consensus candidates to do these jobs as professionals, and to serve thier country. Not thier poltical party and masters.

We need technocrats not lapdogs.

kozmik wrote on October 29, 2007 9:43 PM:

So Jake D has been online with his one liners all day? Talk about mental problems and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Dood, seriously, see a psychologist, get some help. there are mentally ill people on the internet, and you're one of them.

And if this is your job, paid by some Republican outfit to troll TPM, get a life. Prostitutes have more dignity.

Richard L. Adlof wrote on October 29, 2007 9:48 PM:

Thank you Senator Obama.for getting on board with Senator Sanders . . . Five to seven days later . . . Just like every other position you've taken in the last eight months.

Ruth Bethinger wrote on October 29, 2007 9:50 PM:

BrewhouseBob: I don't believe that this sort of thing is a race. I never had any doubt that Sen. Obama would oppose Mukasey, and the vote isn't for a little while now anyway, so there is a good middle ground that Sen. Obama takes between "shoot first and ask questions later" and "let's take a poll and conduct focus groups".

I believe Sen. Dodd is currently trying to get news coverage (which is fine with me) by trying to take a stand on anything he can get his hands on as quickly as possible and Sen. Clinton is not taking a stand on anything unless she has to. Congress inherently moves slowly, so there isn't much value added by being the fastest-legislator-in-the-west; similarly I'm not a fan of senators trying to find the most politically convenient position before voting.

From what I've seen and read of Sen. Obama, he tests his votes from all perspectives and compares them to his core principles as a senator to come to a sound decision; then he takes a stand on his vote.

rain39 wrote on October 29, 2007 9:53 PM:

I'm really sick of decisions like this by committee! Don't you candidates have any balls or ovaries??? Do you or do you not support this candidate given his wiggling on the torture issue. Yes or no? Quick!!!!! It is am simple as that.

For those of you who can't make a decision without concensus, we don't want you to be president anyhow. Life and death happens while your fingers are in the wind. I am so frustrated with you all!!

destor23 wrote on October 29, 2007 10:18 PM:

*sniff* Third senator? *sniff* Don't you love Biden anymore?

Anonymous wrote on October 29, 2007 10:36 PM:

destor23 wrote: *sniff* Third senator? *sniff* Don't you love Biden anymore?

Maybe it's Hillary they don't love anymore?

Joe Bonham wrote on October 29, 2007 11:21 PM:

Jake D... I don't want ya to go! I like reading your stuff, at least you're not swearing at people.

Garry wrote on October 29, 2007 11:30 PM:

Just to answer Jake on his own terms, his argument is especially ridiculous since all the research shows that torture does not yield any useful information. It yields only false confessions and made up stuff. The Israelis know this. Everyone knows this except Jake and the Cheney-Bush administration. McCain, who underwent torture even worse than reading Jake's posts, knows this. So Jake's bogus argument about waterboarding saving American lives is just wrong and dumb on its own terms. It's also besides the point, diverting attention from a very important moral issue. And morality matters. In the end, it's probably our most important currency, and Bush, et.al. have just about squandered it all away.

jollyroger wrote on October 30, 2007 4:28 AM:

"So Jake's bogus argument about waterboarding saving American lives is just wrong and dumb on its own terms."

Why, yes, it is.

But spouting said argument has a beneficial effect on Jake's endocrine balance. nudging his marginal free serum testosterone up a nanogram or two. It makes him feel so...potent.

leelee wrote on October 30, 2007 7:04 AM:

jesus h. crist you are dumb, jake d. why don't you turn the channel to something more educational than ''24'' if all you got to do is watch tv?

ARG in Chicago wrote on October 30, 2007 7:58 AM:

The centrist triangulators are not my favorites. But I have to say that Obama has made the right call here, and at least (this time) he hasn't waited until most of the votes are in already, and the result basically decided, before showing his "leadership". So this is a good call, and pretty timely. I give him credit here.

I have felt for a long time now that the Senate should be very, very skeptical of any new nominees.

And folks, there really is no need to feed the trolls.

-- ARG

DTM wrote on October 30, 2007 8:25 AM:

I also caught the third Senator thing, but I assume TPM was referring to Biden, and simply acknowledging that they will, as always, hold Clinton to a different standard (or no standard at all).

Paging Sen. Triangle.... wrote on October 30, 2007 9:38 AM:

Still awaiting dcshungu's heartfelt defense of his thoroughly principled candidate/object of worship....

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