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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Mukasey’s Support of Tyranny


Conservatives are all aglow over President Bush’s selection of Michael B. Mukasey to replace Alberto Gonzalez as U.S. attorney general. The conservative love-fest for Mukasey comes as no surprise, especially given his positions:

1. Mukasey says he’s against torture. Yawn. So is President Bush. So are the CIA and the Pentagon. That’s not the point. The point is the definition of torture. These people simply define torture to exclude everything that they are doing to people. Once they puts their new, ever-changing, subjective definition of torture into effect, voila!, no more torture because whatever it is that they’re doing to people does not fall within their definition of torture. Mukasey adopts that position, which is why he could not bring himself to contradict his boss on whether the ancient art of water-boarding — i.e., forced drowning — is really subjecting somebody to torture.

2. Mukasey buys into the “enemy combatant” doctrine, the post-9/11 power assumed by the president and the military to label anyone, including American citizens, an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terror” and treat him accordingly. That is, without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment, Mukasey, a former federal judge, accepts the radical notion that a terrorist attack, historically a criminal act, automatically gave the president and the military the power to take any American into custody, subject him to water-boarding or other acts of non-torture (see above), and detain him indefinitely, even perhaps for the rest of his life. Equally bad, Musasey says that in any habeas corpus action, all that is needed to keep an American (or a foreigner) in military control is “some” evidence that he is in fact an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terror.”

3. Mukasey also believes that because the president is “at war,” which presumably means the “war on terror” (as compared to the war on drugs or the war on poverty), his “commander-in-chief” status means that he doesn’t have to comply with constitutional or congressional restrictions on this power, a position that Bush (and Vice President Cheney) have long held. Not surprisingly, Mukasey failed to explain how this is different from dictatorship — i.e., a ruler who has omnipotent powers to do “the right thing.”

Some Americans would exclaim, “How can you have a dictatorship in a democracy?” It’s easy — you simply have a system in which the dictator is elected rather than self-appointed. What do you think a constitution is for if not to restrict the powers of government? Thus, if such restrictions can be ignored, that’s as good as having no constitution at all. This post-9/11, post-Constitution situation will be no different for whoever is elected president, including Hillary Clinton.

Is any of this reconcilable with the principles of a free and civilized society? Of course not. It is an inherent part of a pro-empire, pro-interventionist foreign policy. Therefore, Americans have a choice to make: Either keep the U.S. empire and an interventionist foreign policy and the blowback that comes with them, or restore a limited-government republic to our land along with freedom, peace, harmony, and prosperity.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.