Several senators this week said they were disappointed with attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey’s refusal to say whether the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects was constitutional. But leaders of both parties said they still expect the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote next month to sign off and send the nomination to the full Senate, which is expected to confirm Mukasey.
What the commentators said
The “wave of support” for Mukasey from Democrats was “surprising,” said Jonathan Turley in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). He refused to “denounce the deplorable practice of ‘waterboarding’" and seemed willing to “lie to duck the issue.” That alone is enough to disqualify him from the job. We need someone “who will denounce torture.”
Mukasey promised to resign if the president violated the Constitution, said Robert F. Turner in OpinionJournal.com. What more do you want? Some critics complained that Mukasey wouldn’t use the federal wiretapping law to prevent the administration from using warrantless surveillance of foreign terror suspects, but that would “usurp presidential power” granted by the Constitution.
The debates over “the proper scope of federal power” won’t end when Bush leaves office, said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe (free registration). At least, let’s hope they don’t. “We should welcome them as signs not just of factiousness, but of strength: Americans argue about fundamental freedoms because Americans are fundamentally free.”