Friend of TPM and former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean knows a few things about lawless presidents. He just sent us his thoughts on the now certain confirmation of Judge Mukasey ...
A Last Thought Before the Senate Judiciary Committee Confirms Judge Mukasey
By John W. Dean
As the Senate Democrats complete another sad concession to President Bush, and confirms a nominee who refuses to declare âwater-boardingâ torture, allow me to offer a brief historical reminder: the Senate Judiciary Committee has conspicuously forgotten that there are direct situational and historical parallels with Judge Mukaseyâs nomination to be Attorney General and that of President Richard Nixon nominating Elliot Richardson to be Attorney General during Watergate.
Nixonâs Attorney General had been removed (and was later prosecuted for lying to Congress) â a situation not unlike Alberto Gonzalesâs leaving the job under such a cloud. Nixon was under deep suspicion of covering up the true facts relating to the bungled break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate, not to mention widespread rumors that he had engaged in abuses of power and corrupt campaign practices. Today, Bush is under even deeper suspicion for activities far more serious than anything Nixon engaged in for there is evidence Bush has abused the laws of war, violated treaties, and ordered (or approved) the use of torture and political renditions, which are war crimes.
Since Judge Mukaseyâs situation is not unlike that facing Elliot Richardson when he was appointed Attorney General during Watergate, why should not the Senate Judiciary Committee similarly make it a quid pro quo for his confirmation that he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes? Richardson was only confirmed when he agreed to appoint a special prosecutor, which, of course, he did. And when Nixon fired that prosecutor, Archibald Cox, it lead to his impeachment.
Before the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee completely cave-in to Bush, at minimum they should demand that Judge Mukasey appoint a special prosecutor to investigate if war crimes have been committed. If Mukasey refuses he should be rejected. This, indeed, should be a pre-condition to anyone filling the post of Attorney General under Bush.
If the Democrats in the Senate refuse to demand any such requirement, it will be act that should send chills down the spine of every thinking American.