Attorney General Michael Mukasey has been kind enough to share some fascinating insights with the House Judiciary Committee on an administration that believes it can immunize itself from law breaking. Seriously.
Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) asked if Mukasey was prepared to prosecute admitted instances of administration-ordered torture. No, the AG said, because the Justice Department decided it was legal.
In the same hearing, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) pointed out that the president had authorized an unlawful warrantless wiretapping program, and inquired as to whether this was an example of the president breaking the law. Mukasey said it couldn't be against the law, because the Justice Department decided otherwise.
David Kurtz explains exactly what Mukasey argued before lawmakers today.
We have now the Attorney General of the United States telling Congress that it’s not against the law for the President to violate the law if his own Department of Justice says it’s not.
It is as brazen a defense of the unitary executive as anything put forward by the Administration in the last seven years, and it comes from an attorney general who was supposed to be not just a more professional, but a more moderate, version of Alberto Gonzales....
President Bush has now laid down his most aggressive challenge to the very constitutional authority of Congress. It is a naked assertion of executive power. The founders would have called it tyrannical. His cards are now all on the table. This is no bluff.
Quite right. I’d only add that this entirely accurate description of the administration’s breathtaking abuse of power is the natural conclusion of the Bush gang’s self-immunization philosophy.