Mukasey on Gitmo and DOJ Investigations

24 09 2007

President Bush’s new nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, is beginning to win over more conservatives because of his stance on the war on terror. But those same positions could prove too troublesome for those who want a new kind of leadership at the Justice Department. Michael Isikoff at Newsweek reports:

According to three sources, who asked not to be named discussing the private meetings, Mukasey said that he saw “significant problems” with shutting down Guantánamo Bay and that he understood the need for the CIA to use some “enhanced” interrogation techniques against Qaeda suspects. Mukasey also signaled reluctance with naming a special prosecutor to investigate Bush-administration misconduct, according to one participant. “Gosh, I’m a little worried that the Democrats might have problems with him,” said one well-connected conservative after being briefed on Mukasey’s responses.

In light of recent similar reports about Mukasey’s and his own writings about all things “war on terror,” Senate Democrats should probe Mukasey to find out whether or not he will be the much needed departure from Alberto Gonzales or just another Bush apologist at the confirmation hearings. After all, keeping Gitmo open, providing legal cover for torture, and avoiding fair and thorough investigations of the politicization of the DOJ are among the reasons the Dems wanted Gonzales out. Or so they claimed.

Additionally, Democrats should be worried about Mukasey’s reported unwillingness or reluctance to appoint special prosecutor for a number of reasons. While its true that there is an Inspector General at the Justice Department conducting his own probe into whether or not Gonzales lied or misled Congress, and the political hiring of DOJ employees, a special prosecutor can provide teeth to such investigations.

An Inspector General is much like an auditor who produces a report about general misconduct, graft and other forms of mismanagement. But special prosecutor, on the other hand, has certain powers that an Inspector General does not have, such as holding officials, be they elected or appointed, accountable for criminal violations by indicting them.

But the good news is that Congress can authorized a special prosecutor, without the Attorney General’s approval. Of course, this would not prevent the administration from stonewalling the such an investigation at every turn.

If more reports like these begin to surface in the days leading up to the confirmation hearings, this “consensus nominee” could turn out to be terribly divisive in the end.

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