Any Senator who votes to confirm Michael Mukasey as George Bush's new Attorney General is voting in favor of torture.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a former federal prosecutor and one of the best of the class elected to the Senate in 2006, eloquently asked the simple question on the Senate floor yesterday: "Whence cometh our strength as a nation?"
"Our strength comes from the fact that we stand for something. Our strength comes from the aspirations of millions around the globe who want to be like us, who want their country to be like ours. Our strength comes when we embody the hopes and dreams of mankind."
Senator Whitehouse then went on to ask: "Will we trust our ideals?" Or "will we join that gloomy historical line leading from the Inquisition, through the prisons of tyrant regimes, through the gulags and dark cells, and through Saddam Hussein's torture chambers? Will that be the path we choose?"
Unfortunately, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have already chosen the path through the darkness of which Senator Whitehouse speaks.
The question now is whether Senators from both political parties have the moral conscience and the will to stand up to an Administration that is determined to flout the rule of law and has already set our nation back decades in its relations to the rest of the world. Stubbornly holding on to the "right" of federal employees or contractors to torture people graphically symbolizes just how far we've descended as a nation under George Bush's rule.
The Constitution clearly grants the Senate the power to reject appointments made by the President. This president has shown contempt for the law and for the American people in a million different ways. He's dragged our name through the mud these past six years and with Mukasey as Attorney General he will continue to do so.
If Senators Charles Schumer or John McCain or others vote to confirm this crafty lawyer who advocates torture and an expansive Executive Branch that ignores the laws passed by Congress, then we have not moved one inch as a country since the 2006 elections.
If Mukasey is confirmed the Democrats have failed in their number one mission the American people charged them with in 2006: Reel in the Executive Branch and begin to repair the damage to our name and image that Bush's insistence on torture, secret prisons, and the suspension of habeas corpus as wrought.
If the Democrats fail on this score the 2006 elections were meaningless and they all should be held accountable. Watch the Senators who are presidential candidates like a hawk!