The Mukasey nomination is headed for a vote next week. Sidney has some illuminating thoughts on who was behind the muddled waterboarding testimony in the confirmation hearing, and all the convoluted responses since then. And why:
…Mukasey is not a free agent. He had been strictly briefed and in his testimony was following orders. He has avoided calling waterboarding torture because that is consistent with the administration’s position and past practice. Mukasey’s refusal to disavow waterboarding reveals his acceptance of his assignment to a secondary role as attorney general, an inferior agent, not a constitutional officer, to certain political appointees in the White House.
Those who are responsible for waterboarding have defined and dictated Mukasey’s evasions. His acquiescence demonstrates that no one in his position could take a contrary view to that of David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s former counsel and now chief of staff, who directed and coauthored the infamous memos by former deputy assistant director of the Office of Legal Counsel John Yoo justifying torture, and charged the current acting director of OLC, Stephen Bradbury, to issue new memos rationalizing it.
Addington is the reigning legal authority within the administration, presiding over the attorney general no matter who would fill the job. Addington rules by decree and tantrum, intolerant of any alternative opinion, which he suppresses with intimidation and threat. Gonzales, as White House counsel and then attorney general, was the marionette of Karl Rove and Addington. Rove is gone, but Addington remains….
Jack Balkin has more thoughts along the same lines. Nothing like using someone else’s reputation and job prospects for your own, personal CYA firewall, eh, David? Hey, if the Libby maneuver worked for your boss…
For more on Addington as Cheney’s right hand, read Jane Mayer’s brilliant piece and this from Ari Shapiro at NPR. And these insights from emptywheel from the Libby trial — enigma, that one. Contact information for the Senate Judiciary Committee can be found here…and while you have them on the phone, tell them no basket warrants or retroactive telecom immunity in the FISA bill.
(Photo of David Addington from Corbis via NPR.)