Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzo Out; Now What?

With Gonzo out as AG this fall will be having confirmation rather than impeachment hearings for Attorney General. Michael Chertoff (aka Skeletor) is being chatted up as the replacement. Regardless of whom is nominated, here is a guide of what should and should not be said in those hearings.

Disqualifying Phrases
If any of the following is said, even once, even jokingly, by the nominee he should be immediately thrown out of the hearing room with "Rejected" stamped on his forehead.
  • "I don't recall," "I don't remember," "I don't know," "I don't know what you are referring to," or any other sign of acute political Alzheimer's.
  • "I can't discuss that for National Security reasons" or any other phrase that readily translates into "You Senators are a bunch of weaselly traitors who don't deserve to be in the same room with my glorious self."
  • "I can't discuss that because it is part of an ongoing (or pending or possible) investigation" or "I may have to take a position at a later date and I don't want to prejudice myself." Both evasions mean the same thing, if he tells the truth his nomination won't be approved and if he lies he faces prison.
Questions the Senators Must Ask
The following are questions that any Bush nominee for AG must be asked and for which evasive responses cannot be tolerated.
  • What branch of government does the Vice-President belong to? Is the Office of the Vice-President exempt from the regulations that govern the Executive Branch?
  • What is the Unitary Executive Theory? Does he endorse that theory? What is the role of Congress under that theory? Explain in detail.
  • Under the Unitary Executive Theory does the Justice Department have the ability to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by the Executive Branch?
  • What is the legal authority of Presidential Signing Statements? Does the president have the authority to waive or refuse to enforce acts passed by Congress and either signed by the president or passed over a veto?
  • Reconcile "coercive interrogation techniques" currently being used with the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
  • Does he agree with the statement by former Justice Department official John Yoo that "the president has the sole authority to interpret the Geneva Conventions on behalf of the United States, rather than the courts or Congress?" Does the president have the sole authority to interpret treaties? If so, reconcile this with Article III, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution.
The Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee should use his discretion and not cut off meaty questioning because of artificial time limits. Gonzales in his hearing in 2005 (transcript) perfected the technique of running out the clock with obfuscation and circuitous evasion. His successor must not be allowed to do the same thing.

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