Mukasey Judiciary Whip

  • Bob Fertik's picture
    Bob Fertik
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Update 11/08: Mukasey was confirmed 53-40 with 6 Democrats (Evan Bayh, Tom Carper, Dianne Feinstein, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Chuck Schumer) voting with 47 Republicans. A filibuster would have been successful but no Senator was willing to lead it.

Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, refuses to acknowledge that waterboarding is torture, even though it was used for torture by the Spanish Inquisition, the Japanese in World War II, and Cambodia's Khmer Rouge. He also insists the President can ignore the law to wiretap American citizens without a warrant. He has thus proven his contempt for the Geneva Conventions, the Rule of Law, and the Constitution itself.

If the United States Senate confirms him as Attorney General, they will become fully complicit in the Bush-Cheney policies of torture and dictatorship.

Of course every single Republican Senator (including Arlen Specter) supports the Bush-Cheney dictatorship and will vote to confirm him.

So we must insist that every Democrat oppose him, starting with the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who can defeat his nomination in committee - as they should have done for John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, not to mention Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Sam Alito.

Actions: Our message is simple: No waterboarding, No dictatorship, No Mukasey. Post the responses you get in the comments below.

1. Sign our petition to your Senators and Representative: 

2. Call every Democratic Senator [(800) 828 0498 — (800) 459 1887 — (800) 614 2803)] who has not declared opposition with this simple message:  No waterboarding, No dictatorship, No Mukasey

3. Sign our petition to all the progressive Senators urging them to lead a filibuster:

Answering GOP Talking Points 

  • 11/1/07 Bush said it was unfair to ask Mukasey about interrogation techniques on which he has not been briefed. Then brief him, you blithering idiot! Or let him read Wikipedia or watch this video.
  • 11/1/07 Bush said "It doesn't make any sense to tell the enemy whether we use those techniques or not." Are the American people "the enemy"?!?
  • 10/31/07 Karl Rove's replacement Ed Gillespie told CNN "we don’t know that [waterboarding is] used by the government." But as John Roberts pointed out, Republicans brag about the use of waterboarding on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi.
  • 10/31/07 NY Times analysis: If Mukasey declared waterboarding to be torture, those who authorized it would have to be prosecuted as war criminals. Then impeach Bush and Cheney and prosecute them!
  • 10/31/07 Lindsay Graham said the Senate voted against outlawing waterboarding so it's legal. There was never an up-or-down vote on waterboarding, but a vote on 9/28/06 to require oversight of CIA "programs" was defeated on a 53-46 party line vote, with all 46 Democrats in favor and all 53 Republicans opposed. As Harry Reid says, "It's already against the law. I don't know we have to ban something that's against the law. If we ban waterboarding, do we next have to ban thumb screws?"


Joe Biden (DE)

Dick Durbin (IL)

  • 10/31/07 Senate floor speech: "If we are going to restore the image of the United States of America, the highest law enforcement officer should be clear, firm, unequivocal: that waterboarding and torture are unacceptable, un-American, illegal and unconstitutional."

Russ Feingold (WI)

  • 11/4/07 "the country also needs an Attorney General who will tell the President that he cannot ignore the laws passed by Congress. Unfortunately, Judge Mukasey was unwilling to reject the extreme and dangerous theories of executive power that this administration has put forward. The nation's top law enforcement officer must be able to stand up to a chief executive who thinks he is above the law. The rule of law is too important to our country's history and to its future to compromise on that bedrock principle."
  • 11/2/07 "He may be the best nominee we can get from this administration in this respect. But I am concerned about his views on executive power, and I am weighing whether his answers to questions in that area adequately demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law." 

Ted Kennedy (MA)  

  • 11/1/07 floor spech (read/watch): "Waterboarding is torture. Torture is unacceptable. Period. If Michael Mukasey won't stand up to President Bush and tell him that, then he doesn't deserve to be Attorney General... Judge Mukasey's troubling views do not stop at torture. He has shown his support for broad Presidential powers, including the ability to detain U.S. citizens without charges and to collect illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens without a warrant... We should never approve a nominee for Attorney General who rejects the rule of law."

Pat Leahy (VT) - Chair 

  • 11/6/07 "The president says that we do not torture. But then his lawyers redefine torture, redefine it down, in secret memos, in fundamental conflict with American values and law."
  • 11/2/07 "no one, not even the President, is above the law."

Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)

  • 10/31/07 Senate floor speech (read/watch): "Will we join that gloomy historical line leading from the Inquisition, through the prisons of tyrant regimes, through gulags and dark cells, and through Saddam Hussein's torture chambers? Will that be the path we choose?"


Ben Cardin (MD) 

Herb Kohl (WI)


Dianne Feinstein (CA)

  • 11/5/07 announced support
  • 11/1/07 still reviewing
  • 10/31/07 to reporters: "I need to think more about it. I very much regret that he couldn't have just been clear and definitive."
  • 10/31/07 to constituents: "I voted in favor of sending his nomination to the full Senate. I decided he has the qualifications that I mention to be a judge".

Chuck Schumer (NY)

  • 11/5/07 announced support
  • 10/31/07 to reporters: "I'm not going to comment on Judge Mukasey here. I'm reading the letter, I'm going over it."
  • 10/18/07 Schumer asked Mukasey to brief him on a [waterboarding] study “should you become attorney general – and as you know, I hope you will be.”

Also opposed but not on Judiciary

Hillary Clinton

Chris Dodd

  • "Mr. Mukasey's position that the President does not have to heed the law disqualifies him from being the chief attorney for the United States. We have seen for too long, and at great expense to our national security, an Administration that has systematically attacked the rule of law and turned our Justice Department into a political wing of the White House. I'm afraid that Mr. Mukasey as Attorney General would be more of the same."

John Kerry

  • 11/1/07 "Judge Mukasey's refusal to classify the barbaric practice of waterboarding as torture waves a red flag about his nomination to serve an Administration that has adhered to the Cheney doctrine on executive power and torture. I am not comfortable confirming anyone who cannot see that this method of interrogation is antithetical to American values and traditions – especially not to a position that is charged with representing our entire justice system. We need to reestablish faith in the Department of Justice. Many of us wanted to believe that Judge Mukasey could undo the damage of the Gonzales years. Unfortunately his lack of candor and his refusal to acknowledge this abuse of power suggest he is unable or unwilling to do so, and this is why I will be opposing Judge Mukasey's nomination to be the next Attorney General of the United States."

Barack Obama

Bernie Sanders

Advocacy Groups



Blog coverage:


Most of our people have caved on most of Bushco's...

nominees over the past 7 years. They apparently will continue to do this saddling us--and the country--with people obviously neither willing nor able to work for the country and Constitution.

Great cartoon on this nominee over at bartcop...just scroll down till you find it:

About the only weapon we the people have left is to withhold our votes in the upcoming primaries and general election. This would be a disaster for the country and would cause a lot of unemployment of public 'servants' who no longer serve the nation or it's real needs.

A mind once expanded can never return to its original dimensions.

Anne Hathaway: 1556-1623


The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.

I refuse to accept defeat

  • Bob Fertik's picture
    Bob Fertik
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before they vote. Mukasey's positions on waterboarding and dictatorship are completely unacceptable to the American people.

Senate Democrats need our contributions as well as our votes, so let's tell them loud and clear that they won't get a penny if they confirm Mukasey.

Where have all the good public servants gone? 

Judge Mukasey wants to be the new Attorney General under Bush?  It seems to me that the judge has forgotten what type of life his parents had in Russia under the tyrants. Forgotten the promise of  America and freedom? Forgotten Constitutional law and all it means to America?

Might be he is being bribed or suffers from old age?  Judging from his record and past accomplishments this man might not be who he once was. Does "the end justify the means" to get power for his religion over the freedom and survival of our country? He is to betray it?

The Judge is not suitable since he ignores the Constitution and the fact we have a democracy with a President who is not a king.  A President who lied to us and led us into illegal and unconstitutional wars. He has abused  his power.  How would we give him absolute power?  The illegal President is incompetent and one might say...treasonous.  We should impeach him not give him more power to destroy  and ruin our country (and others in the world).

Diane Feinstein

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According to the staffer that answered the phone, Senator Feinstein is opposed to Torture and believes Waterboarding is torture, yet she is undecided. I reminded the staffer that she has voted too many times with the Bush Administration and that she had a responsibility to Vote No on Mukasey.

Feinstein and Leahy

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I had been calling Feinstein about the Southwick nomination.

Let's hope she is less accepting of torturers than racists. Leahy and the Judiciary Committe itself had been getting calls from me since I found out that they had been asking for documents that were already in the public domain. Leahy had went so far and praised the Administration for cooperation about turning over the documents.

However, this detail is a great example of why they need to stop writing letters and start arresting people that have refused to comply with subpoenas.
Matthew Gerbasi
Progressive Democrats of America
Impeachment Working Group National Coordinator
[read foreign press]


  • Despicable's picture
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Our nation is going down a dangerous and despicable path!...Torture belongs to the dark ages and is barbaric, and should not be tolerated in a civil society!
There is no subject that will illuminate a persons character so much like the subject of torture!..How can anyone face their family and their children knowing that they took a stand for the unconstitutional use of torture in AMERICA!

Mukasey /Waterboarding

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    vietnam 2
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Why don't we waterboard Mukasey and any repug that isn't sure its torture. Then they wouldn't have to "research" it and they would know for sure.


  • lobear00's picture
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Mr. Leahey and the rest of the Commitee, Put up the Names of the Fired United States Attorneys to Bush and tell him to pick one for the position. You will find Republicans running for cover, and trying to leave the Country! The Republicans have commited Treason and they know it, and yes there are some Democrats in the same boat as well. It is time that you Democrats in the Congress start holding up the Oath that you took and stop Cowering to the Dictator.

I agree that the Democrats

  • Bill Harding's picture
    Bill Harding
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I agree that the Democrats in Congress need to grow spines. I also believe that it is time that you "Independents" also grow spines and help those of us who are fighting to take our Party back, and stop standing on the outside throwing stones at us.

Cardin, Shumer and Feinstein

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Cardin's staffer simply said they would pass along the message as did the person at the DSCC. Feinstein's office staffer heard me out and then asked for my zip code (which is not in California) and then told me to have a nice weekend. I took that to mean that since I wasn't in her district my comments weren't going to mean anything.

Cardin & Schumer

  • Kimosquabbie's picture
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Cardin is my Senator. I called his office yesterday to urge him to vote against Mukasey's confirmation. I specifically stated I was a constituent and verified that my call was recorded (I assume on some kind of yes/no tally sheet). I also asked if there were any updates to the Senators "undecided" status. The staffer replied, "he's very torn about this vote." Still qualifies as "undecided," but at least I'm confident he's taking it seriously.

I'm from NY and have many friends and family members who are consituents of Sen. Schumer. I contacted many of them yesterday urging them to call his office.

schumer's office

  • suzannem's picture
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i just spoke to an aide at schumer's nyc office and he is taking down people's opinions. the dc. office line has been busy for a while now.

i told him that i was concerned not only with the torture issue, but also with mukasey's disturbing response that the president can invoke war powers to place people "within" the law. to me, this is even worse than his no-opinion on whether waterboarding is torture.

the word from the aide is that schumer is still undecided. but they are receiving a lot of calls.


  • Jannie's picture
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What I dont understand is why our senators dont ask this simple question:

If our US soldiers receive the waterboarding treatment is this torture?

I dont get why the democrats are such cowards, must be that they are also bought by $, greed and power. You are not doing enough and I cant wait until a new party arises that truly is a DEMOCRATIC party not a bunch of politicians. Shame on all of you for not standing strongly and beating around the bush!!

Regarding the update, which

  • Msfitts's picture
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Regarding the update, which I also read on -their (Schumer and Feinstein) support is simply untenable.
Another day, another appalling action by some Democrats.
Another day, and once more a boorish, petulant president gets what he wants.

These two are NOT Democrats.

  • Bill Harding's picture
    Bill Harding
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These two are NOT Democrats. They are New Democrats whose loyalty is to the DLC and their corporate backers.

Very true. After I sent

  • Msfitts's picture
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Very true. After I sent that, it did occurr to me I was lumping ALL Dems together. Big mistake.

Callers to KGO San Francisco early this morning...

John Rothman's talkshow, were all raving mad over Feinstein's betrayal. She was, at one time, the mayor of San Francisco.

There is no viable excuse for our party to allow this nomination to go through.

Feinstein was just re-elected and is 72. It is unlikely she will run again. She has refused to take calls, messages, or make any other response.

Many of the callers stated that they were surprised that she had been re-elected. Her record over the past 7 years has been dismal at best.

A mind once expanded can never return to its original dimensions.

Anne Hathaway: 1556-1623

The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.

The Senators who support torture and dislike the Constitution

forgot their oath of office.  Queen Pelosi has let her public service go to her head...or lower.  She is rich and famous because we allowed her to be.  Yet she acts in her own self interest and betrays us.  Our founding fathers would demand her resignation.  I am asking it now.

Time for a national strike since they don't listen to protestors, voters or polls? Or the world community...who hate us now.

"The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"

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Decades ago, the award-winning science fiction writer Ursula K LeGuin posed a similar question in a short story suitable for a high school literature course: "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas".

If you know that your material happiness and prosperity, and that of everyone you knew and loved in your whole city, depended on the abuse of a child ... what would you do?

I suggest this is a very subversive way to introduce the moral problem, shorn of the macho b.s. surrounding torture in the movies. Children and young adults may still be mentally flexible enough to appreciate this and similar stories and to decide that, no, they do not want to condition their well-being on the torture of another.

Unfortunately, too many adults have watched too many action movies in which "just a little bit" of torture saves the day. They may be unable to reason clearly, since (as Al Gore points out in "The Assault On Reason") fictional images are more emotional compelling than boring facts. In the long run we need to educate our kids to these moral problems with stores like Omelas.

In the short run, we need to circulate images of waterboarding and of John McCain denouncing it. Once an adult has been programmed to accept torture, only counterprogramming can succeed in deprogramming - verbal logic is almost useless.

Mukasey Confirmation

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Senator Ben Cardin's office now says Senator Cardin will oppose the nomination of Judge Mukasey. I told Senator Feinstein's office how deeply disappointed i am with her decision to support the nomination. For what it's worth all the senators on the support or undecided list's phone numbers were busy at just after five pm EST.