Unasked Questions

The New York Times invited four law profs to submit a list of questions they’d like to see Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey answer during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee. Some of my favorites:

You wrote recently that proposals for a national security court to incapacitate terrorists through preventive detention rather than criminal trials “deserve careful scrutiny by the public, and particularly by the U.S. Congress.” Do you support the creation of such a court? What class of terrorists should be subject to preventive detention, and for how long? Should alleged terrorists be given the right to counsel and the right to compel witnesses?

You held in Padilla v. Rumsfeld that the president has the authority to detain Americans arrested in the United States as “enemy combatants” in the “war on terrorism.” What is an “enemy combatant,” and from what legal source do you derive your definition of that term? How long do you believe such individuals may constitutionally be held without criminal trial? Do agree with the Justice Department lawyer who told a federal judge that a little old lady who sent a check to an orphanage in Afghanistan that turned out to have ties to Al Qaeda could be detained as an “enemy combatant”?

Proposals for reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act include requirements for auditing surveillance programs and reporting the results to Congress — including how many Americans have had their conversations recorded and preserved. Do you believe this violates the president’s constitutional powers?

Of course, the whole exercise amounted to nothing more than verbal jerkoffery from the get go. Save a pissing contest between Senators Chuck Schumer and Pat Leahy at the outset, and some pointed questioning from Sen. Russ Feingold, yesterday’s session went pretty damn smoothly. Confirmation is “all but certain[.]”

Such was the tenure of inveterate liar and craven political hack Alberto Gonzales that this guy looks like the second coming of Jesus by comparison.

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