Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced his decision on whether he will support President Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General at his Burlington office on Wednesday afternoon.
Mukasey, a former federal judge in New York, had been considered a shoe-in when he was nominated to fill the vacancy of Bush’s political ally, A.G. Alberto Gonzales, who resigned under a dark cloud of bipartisan criticism.
But the tide turned on Mukasey’s second day before Leahy’s Judiciary Committee when the Bush nominee declined to declare that the form of torture known as "waterboarding" was, in fact, illegal and a violation of US Law. In fact, he said he didn't know if waterboarding was "torture." Said St. Patrick:
When it comes to our core values, the things that make our country great, that define America’s place in the world, these values do not waiver or change from president to president. They are America’s values. They are not values that are owned by any president, or any administration or any Congress or any attorney general. They are the values of a great and good country.
America should continue to stand against torture.
Leahy told reporters in response to a question that he has asked Mukasey both publicly and privately to reconsider and take a public position on "waterboarding," but Mukasey, he said , has firmly declined.
I wish I could support his nomination, but I cannot. America needs to be certain and confidant of the bedrock principle deeply embedded in our laws and our values that no, no one in our country is above the law.
So when the Judiciary Committee meets on Tuesday morning, I will vote “no” on the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General of the United States.
Asked to respond to President George W. Bush’s criticism made before the right-wing Heritage Foundation Thursday that the nation is at war and in desperate need of having an attorney general in office, Leahy told reporters “In some ways the nation has been without an attorney general since Alberto Gonzales was installed.”
It was the big political story of Friday afternoon as Democrats divulged how they'd vote. A freelance TV crew was there to feed CNN. Dave Gram was in from Montpeculiar's Associated Press Bureau - here he is letting the world know on the sidewalk outside. And a crew from the new local Fox News operation, too. They're expected to hit the local airwaves shortly.