Digby of Hullabaloo: (my bold)
The Attorney General is saying that the President can do anything he wants, break the law any way he wants, as long as the President's own Justice Department, populated his own handpicked officials, validates it. And he's saying it directly to members of Congress, essentially telling them that they don't exist. They have no power to prosecute because the Justice Department won't take up the case, and the courts have no power to adjudicate because these are official state secrets. There is only one branch of government that matters.Why are we not arming ourselves with pitchforks and torches? Frankenstein's monster is loose and we can't get anyone to notice. Even in Congress.
[snip] David Kurtz:
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.
NTodd of Pax Americana quotes the Rolling Stone:
Quietly, while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been inspiring Democrats everywhere with their rolling bitchfest, congressional superduo Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have completed one of the most awesome political collapses since Neville Chamberlain. At long last, the Democratic leaders of Congress have publicly surrendered on the Iraq War, just one year after being swept into power with a firm mandate to end it.Except there are some people awake and unafraid of the Bush cabal. Emptywheel notes that Steven Bradbury's nomination is being forestalled in the Senate because of this very thing. I chose just one of the many links: (my bold)
The really tragic thing about the Democratic surrender on Iraq is that it's now all but guaranteed that the war will be off the table during the presidential campaign. Once again — it happened in 2002, 2004 and 2006 — the Democrats have essentially decided to rely on the voters to give them credit for being anti-war, despite the fact that, for all the noise they've made to the contrary, in the end they've done nothing but vote for war and cough up every dime they've been asked to give, every step of the way.
Even beyond the war, the Democrats have repeatedly gone limp-dick every time the Bush administration so much as raises its voice. Most recently, twelve Democrats crossed the aisle to grant immunity to phone companies who participated in Bush's notorious wiretapping program. Before that, Democrats caved in and confirmed Mike Mukasey as attorney general after he kept his middle finger extended and refused to condemn waterboarding as torture. Democrats fattened by Wall Street also got cold feet about upsetting the country's gazillionaires, refusing to close a tax loophole that rewarded hedge-fund managers with a tax rate less than half that paid by ordinary citizens.
But the war is where they showed their real mettle. Before the 2006 elections, Democrats told us we could expect more specifics on their war plans after Election Day. Nearly two years have passed since then, and now they are once again telling us to wait until after an election to see real action to stop the war. In the meantime, of course, we're to remember that they're the good guys, the Republicans are the real enemy, and, well, go Hillary! Semper fi! Yay, team!
How much of this bullshit are we going to take? How long are we supposed to give the Reids and Pelosis and Hillarys of the world credit for wanting, deep down in their moldy hearts, to do the right thing?
Look, fuck your hearts, OK? Just get it done. Because if you don't, sooner or later this con is going to run dry. It may not be in '08, but it'll be soon. Even Americans can't be fooled forever.
Avendon Carol of The Sideshow quotes Charles Pierce of Media Matters:
And the Politico:
While there are scores of pending appointments, much of the acrimony can be traced back to Steven Bradbury, nominated to the post of assistant attorney general, office of legal counsel.
Despite the banal title, the office issues legal opinions which are binding on the executive branch. While serving in the position as acting assistant attorney general, Bradbury signed memorandums authorizing the use of harsh CIA interrogation techniques, which Democrats have characterized as torture.
In December, Reid offered to confirm 84 stalled administration nominees in exchange for the withdrawal of Bradbury's nomination, but the White House declined, according to Reid.
In spite of Bush's little breakfast theater yesterday, everyone seems to get that this argument is about Steven Bradbury, and only secondarily about Bush's neanderthal choices for a number of his other nominations.
But no one seems to get the reason why Bush has forced this stand-off with the Senate. As I pointed out several weeks ago, the re-appointment of Bradbury--whether or not he is confirmed--serves as a control on Mukasey from now until the end of Bush's Adminstration.
...the re-appointment guarantees that Bradbury can continue to act as OLC head through the end of Bush's term. It ensures that Dick and Addington have their stool (in both senses of the word, I suspect) in the heart of DOJ, preventing any real roll-back of Dick's Constitutional atrocities.
No matter what Mukasey's intentions, it seems, Bush and Dick now have their insurance that Mukasey can only do so much to fix this Administration's shredding of the Constitution.
More importantly, as yesterday's HJC hearing proves, having Bradbury in OLC authorizing whatever atrocities BushCo dream up gives them immunity from federal prosecution for those atrocities; Attorney General Mukasey has made it clear that he will not investigate or prosecute anything that has OLC sanction. (And read Marty Lederman for why Mukasey's stance, though logically atrocious, is legally justifiable.) The very best we can wish for, from Mukasey, is that he won't sign off on any more Pixie Dust and Waterboarding opinions (though that assumes that Addington and Bradbury will show him the opinions, which may not be a safe assumption).George Bush would forgo all his other 84 appointments because he wants to remain safe from prosecution and probably would like the insurance of immunity for any of his actions going forward. Democrats need to make this clear--Bradbury is about more than a personnel dispute, it's about whether the President is above the law.
For the past couple of weeks, they've just gotten blatant about it. The administration of George W. Bush is bound by no law, bound by no precedent, bound not even by the forms of democratic self-government, let alone its actual substance, which is being used as a throw-rug in John Yoo's den these days. They will torture and the Congress can do nothing. Their powers to spy, to search, and to seize are unlimited and Congress is not remotely entitled to know even what those powers are. They can imprison without trial. They can force corporations -- and, indeed, individuals within the government -- to violate the law. They are not subject to treaties. They are not subject to oversight, nor even subpoenas. Read this swill from yesterday. Through his actions, and from the mouths of his minions, George Bush is now claiming fully the powers of a tyrant, by any reasonable definition of the term.Above the law?
This is the only issue in the presidential campaign. It is the only truly existential threat to the country.
Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat:
This is about the failure of either of the other two branches of government to curb the Bushists' appetite for unchecked executive power.Amen.
If Mukasey will not investigate, Congress must investigate Mukasey, along with anyone else involved in this transparently unconstitutional exercise of executive power. To all appearances, Mukasey forswore himself in his confirmation hearings. Now it is time for Congress to pursue his misdeed. He must not be allowed to insulate higher officials in the executive branch, especially but not limited to Messrs. Bush and Cheney, from responsibility for their unconstitutional acts. If obtaining a priori DoJ approval to commit acts prohibited under established international law and to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of every American who picks up a telephone or writes an email isn't evidence of criminal and likely even unconstitutional acts, what protections of our fundamental rights and civil liberties do we have left? Either this matter is pursued, probably by Congress, or we have nothing, and our supposed rights and liberties mean nothing.
I'll take Kurtz's assertions a step further, and reiterate my call for impeachment of at least Bush and Cheney, along with every other high executive branch official who participated in the decision that the executive is permitted to freelance. The Constitution says otherwise. I stand by the Constitution's plain language... and I stand by its prescribed remedy.