Patterico's Pontifications

7/15/2008

Its Stuff Like This That Makes Me Proud To Work For This Guy

Filed under: General — WLS @ 8:50 pm



Posted by WLS:

John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has requested that Attorney General Mukasey appoint a Special Counsel to look into the allegations that Administration Officials, beginning with the President and Vice President, authorized illegal torture of detainees at Gitmo.

Below is a portion of General Mukasey’s response:

I understand that you and some of your colleagues disagree with the interrogation policies that the Executive Branch has chosen to use in defending our Nation fiom another terrorist attack in the six and one-half years following September 11,2001. I also appreciate the public interest in, and debate over, the wisdom and value of these policies, as well as the fidelity of those policies to our Nation’s laws; indeed, I believe that such debate reflects the strength of our Constitution. But I strongly disagree with your suggestion that such debate should be resolved through a criminal investigation into the actions of government officials who formulated and carried out those policies. I believe such a request is unfair to those who have been charged with making the difficult decisions in protecting our Nation in the War on Terror, and to those who will be so charged in the future, and therefore is seriously short-sighted.

Your letter requests the appointment of a special counsel to launch a criminal investigation into the actions of the President, members of his cabinet, and other national security lawyers and intelligence professionals in the approval and employment by the CIA of interrogation techniques against captured members of a1 Qaeda. However, you offer no evidence that these government officials acted pursuant to any motive other than a good-faith desire to protect the citizens of our Nation from a future terrorist attack. Nor have you provided any evidence or indication that these government officials believed they were authorizing any policy contrary to the laws of the United States. Quite the contrary: Before the CIA employed these interrogation techniques, government officials sought advice from the Department of Justice as to the lawfulness of the proposed course of conduct. The Department of Justice attorneys, in turn, provided that legal advice. I am aware of no evidence that in providing advice concerning the CIA program those attorneys acted in anything other than good faith based on their best judgment of what the law required.

Your request for a criminal investigation into the actions Executive Branch policymakers and national security lawyers undertook to defend the Nation reflects a broader trend whose institutional effects may outlast the present Administration and harm our national security well into the future. I spoke in more detail about this problematic trend in a speech at Boston College Law School on May 23, 2008, which in turn drew substantially from former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith’s recent book, The Terror Presidency. In his book, Professor Goldsmith describes what he calls “cycles of timidity and aggression” among political leaders and commentators in their attitudes towards the intelligence community. As I pointed out in my speech, the message sent to our national security policymakers and lawyers in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was clear, it was bipartisan, and it was all but unanimous. As Professor Goldsmith explains, “The consistent refrain from the [9/11] Commission, Congress, and pundits of all stripes was that the government must be more forward-leaning against the terrorist threat: more imaginative, more aggressive, less risk-averse.”

We have gone six and one-half years without another terrorist attack within the United States, and now our intelligence professionals and national security lawyers are hearing a rather different message. Your letter, which urges me to subject those involved in developing or implementing our counterterrorism policies to criminal investigation, reflects that message. Taking such a step would not only be, in my judgment, unjust, but would also have potentially grave national security consequences. There could be no more certain way to usher in a new “cycle of timidity” in the intelligence community than to tell the government’s national security policymakers and lawyers that, if they support an aggressive counterterrorism policy based on their good-faith belief that such a policy is lawful, they may nevertheless one day be prosecuted for so doing.

The competing imperatives to protect the Nation and to safeguard our civil liberties are worthy of public debate and discussion, and congressional oversight and review of our intelligence activities are also important. But it is equally important that such scrutiny be conducted responsibly, with appreciation of its institutional implications. We cannot afford to invite another “cycle of timidity” among those who devote their lives to keeping us safe. The stakes are simply too high.

Anyone imagine Alberto writing something like this to Conyers?  This is one of those moments where the President should recognize that loyalty is no substitute for competence in a Cabinet Officer.

H/T The Corner at NRO

32 Responses to “Its Stuff Like This That Makes Me Proud To Work For This Guy”

  1. I’m amazed that his nomination wasn’t fought more viciously, if his beliefs really are as rational as this letter would seem to prove. This kind of thinking really screws up the left’s plan to destabilize this country.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  2. my only nit is that he’s not a “General”……

    /milspeak

    redc1c4 (5c9f54)

  3. Damn, he writes real good!

    Old Coot (cb828a)

  4. I totally agree that this is the best that I have heard fron the DoJ in years.

    EDP (7223ad)

  5. Now Conyors is trying to take the spotlight off the real criminal, his wife. BWAHAHAHAAHHAHAHA

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  6. redcic4 — the Attorney General, Solicitor General and Surgeon General are all addressed by their title “General”.

    WLS (02df99)

  7. This is the primary reason why I switched from Democrat to Republican after 9/11.

    aunursa (09c81f)

  8. What I meant is this type of thinking. The Democrats consider the response to terrorism to be a matter of law enforcement. The Republicans consider it to be a matter of a war that must be won. All other issues pale in comparison. That’s the issue that got me to lean to the right (along with Dennis Millar, Charles Johnson, Cinnamon Stillwell, and others.)

    aunursa (09c81f)

  9. Conyers needs a visit from a vigilance committee. Men like Conyers are not doing the peoples business. They are doing politics. They endanger you, me and our children.

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III (0c4025)

  10. “John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has requested that Attorney General Mukasey appoint a Special Counsel to look into the allegations that Administration Officials, beginning with the President and Vice President, authorized illegal torture of detainees at Gitmo.”

    If the Roosevelt administration can put German saboteurs in the electric chair solely because they were captured out of uniform (i.e. they hadn’t carried out any acts of sabotage}, which is exactly what the Roosevelt administration did do, then I don’t see any big problem with waterboarding captured Al Qaida terrorists to loosen their tongues up a bit.

    As a matter of fact I don’t see any problem with whacking them out after they’re questioned, seeing as how like WWII German saboteurs, they’re also not wearing uniforms.

    Dave Surls (3abe69)

  11. If Conyers doesn’t get his Special Counsel, he can always fall back on holding more hearings. That seems to have done wonders for the democratic Congress’s approval rating instead of actually doing something productive.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  12. WLS: not to argue, but i’d be interested to know just how long this tradition has been going on…..

    redc1c4 (5c9f54)

  13. “Anyone imagine Alberto writing something like this to Conyers?”

    I don’t remember.

    Ira (28a423)

  14. WLS wrote: Anyone imagine Alberto writing something like this to Conyers? This is one of those moments where the President should recognize that loyalty is no substitute for competence in a Cabinet Officer.

    Can I get an A-A-A-A-A-AMEN!

    L.N. Smithee (ef90eb)

  15. Mukasey just rose in a lot of folks’ estimation and deservedly so!

    It is incontrovertible that the standard policies of the Democrat party seek to weaken our national security and pander to our worst enemies. Conyers is one of the most notorious in this regard but it’s a very long (and very undistinguished) list.

    Peg C. (2d7a7d)

  16. Hey, If ANYONE needs to be criminally investigated by a Special Counsel, it is Conyers, Pelosi, Reid, Murtha, and McDermott.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  17. A lot of words to simply say: “Nuts!”.

    C. Norris (cbd5fc)

  18. Well, C.Norris, he’s no McAuliffe.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. Jesus, you people will believe anything. So much for small government, so much for not trusting Washington.

    Levi (74ca1f)

  20. “You people”…meaning the ones who haven’t swallowed the Kool-Aid.

    Conyers is a boil on the ass of the body politic.

    What leftists like Conyers and his treasonous ilk want, is to find a way to excuse, alibi and mollycoddle enemies of America…while simultaneously finding ways to berate, deride, and tear down the country. Typical leftist…he isn’t happy unless he is crapping on the flag.

    cfbleachers (4040c7)

  21. Summers are a great thing for Levi. None of that pesky studying or tests.

    Though many students do have jobs in the summer!

    Remember, he is just a troll.

    Eric Blair (e8a68b)

  22. “None of that pesky studying or tests.”

    It’s quite obvious that Levi doesn’t exactly engage in those pursuits while he’s in school – so his MO remains that same.

    Dmac (416471)

  23. Here’s our boy again, expounding on his universal wisdom: “College is retarded, I haven’t learned nearly as much from that pyramid scheme as I have from the internet and watching our joke of a media on the television.”

    Translation: “And I am edumacated!”

    Dmac (416471)

  24. “Jesus, you people will believe anything.”

    Do a little research on Conyers, boy genius. TV is not interactive and Bill Maher is not likely to rip Conyers the new asshole he deserves.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  25. The sad part, Dmac, is that I see precisely this kind of “I’m really tough over the Internet” business from students who then get all weepy about their grades when I have to see them as an academic advisor.

    Electronically tough. In person, not so much.

    One of the “poker tells” is the sooperdooper tough commentary regarding college. People who think college is a waste time aren’t there–they go out and get real jobs and just plain get on with it. People who are doing poorly in college often get all tough-guy about how “useless” it is, or how “stupid” the professors are.

    My nephew pulled this business on me once. He told me that his Econ professor was so “stupid” (there is that “stupid” business again from a guy who packs up bags at K-Mart) that he didn’t even go to class.

    I said him, “Well, you’ll show him on that final exam!”

    My nephew got pretty upset, since he was on academic probation at the time.

    Of course, the best way to “get even” with such a “stupid” professor would be to force him or her to give you an “A” grade. But that takes work. Much easier to sneer at the professors and call them names.

    And as an academic advisor, I generally don’t trust what many students *say* about their grades. I have seen too many genuine transcripts.

    Eric Blair (e8a68b)

  26. WLS, redc1c4 — This is a [stupid, but I pre-repeat myself] Bidenism up with which we must not put.

    Though the Surgeon General is indeed a commissioned officer, the word “General” in Attorney General, Solicitor General and Surgeon General is an adjective, not a noun (as it would be if these were ranks). As such, it modifies the important part of each title: “Attorney,” “Solicitor” and “Surgeon.” It is the noun that indicates the function of each office; to elide the noun is to turn these unique federal officers into interchangeable functionaries.

    I’m not sure when I first heard this abuse of the language — probably the early to mid 90’s — but I am certain of the mouth from which it first issued: that of Joe Biden. This alone would render it cringeworthy, were it not already naturally so.

    Do yourself and the English language a favor: always use the proper “Mr/Madam (office) General” formulation. Because, if nothing else, it’s one in the eye of the execrable Joe.

    porkopolitan (b3d276)

  27. I love Mukasey’s candor: he all-but-expressly labels Conyers’s request as “[ir]responsible.”

    Mitch (890cbf)

  28. Something Mukasey did NOT say, but which is true, is, “Nothing is stopping Congress from passing legislation that expressly prohibits the forms of ‘enhanced interrogation’ that appear to underlie most of the controversy.”

    I realize that such laws would be prospective only, and therefore that they would not satisfy the partisan blood-lust of the far leftists like Conyers, but it’s still a fair point.

    Mitch (890cbf)

  29. What leftists like Conyers and his treasonous ilk want, is to find a way to excuse, alibi and mollycoddle enemies of America…while simultaneously finding ways to berate, deride, and tear down the country. Typical leftist…he isn’t happy unless he is crapping on the flag.

    Investigating corruption among our highest elected officials is the duty of Congress. The President is not the country, the President is not the flag. How are you not able to make that distinction? When someone says they want to investigate George Bush for possible criminal activity, and you say that means he just wants to ‘crap on the flag,’ I mean what is that line of reasoning?

    Levi (74ca1f)

  30. Levi, once again you don’t understand what you are commenting about, you are clueless. Conyers is not trying to carry out any duty of Congress – he is not trying to investigate anything. He’s trying to make the Executive branch investigate itself.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  31. Levi’s comment…”investigating corruption”…

    Levi, where is the “corruption?” The CIA asked the DoJ for legal advice, and it was given. If the DoJ gave advice that actions would be legal that were not, we wouldn’t be having this string, we’d be arguing about whether or not the court decisions on the legality of the actions was correct.

    In other words, the trial would be over, and either the CIA operatives would be in jail, or found not guilty.

    Conyers is grandstanding, you know it, so do I.

    reff (11f4f8)

  32. Did the attorney general really write this himself?

    davod (5bdbd3)


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