David Kirkpatrick

January 31, 2008

Another take on US torture

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:35 pm

Here’s more on Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee from Scott Horton writing at Harper’s. It’s a great dissection from a legal philosophy bent.

From the article:

Watching Mukasey was a painful experience. What the public hoped for with his appointment was simple enough: that someone would occupy the office of attorney general who possessed integrity, common sense, independence and the basic skills that accompany a sound legal mind. The essence of what a lawyer owes his client is independent professional judgment.

Elihu Root, a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt’s and one of the titans of the New York Bar, put it bluntly and in terms that could not be better suited to the current predicament. “About half of the practice of a decent lawyer is telling would-be clients that they are damn fools and should stop.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee put Michael Mukasey to the test yesterday. And he left the hearing room as an embarrassment to those who have known and worked with him over the last twenty years, and who mistakenly touted his independence and commitment to do the right thing, come what may. On the other hand, Vice President Cheney, the principal author of the torture system, must be elated and relieved. Indeed, Cheney’s lawyer Shannen Coffin rushed to National Review Online to give Mukasey’s performance an enthusiastic seal of approval. Mukasey flunked the simple test that Elihu Root posed for all lawyers: he doesn’t have the gumption to tell the president that his torture program is unlawful and needs to be shutdown. Moreover, he’s fully bought in to the cover-up.

From all accounts Mukasey, as described above, was considered an independent and strong legal intellect. The equivocation over torture coming time and again from various members of the Bush 43 administration, and now Mukasey, makes you start to wonder what exactly they now know.

It’s an old dodge to get someone into a difficult position by allowing them information that must be kept secret or their head might be served up on a platter as well.

If this subject if of any interest to you I heartily recommend reading the entire article linked at the beginning of the post. Let’s just say Horton sums things up with, by all appearances the current US stance on torture is it’s fine when we do it, bad when other countries do it. Comically playground-style reasoning, but very depressing since it seems to be current US policy.

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