So maybe it's those remarks, and maybe it's just because I don't know the guy and have no experience with him, but also unlike Greenfield, I'm not surprised that Mukasey declared in the Wall Street Journal that terrorists can't be "successfully" tried in our criminal courts. Nor, I'm afraid, am I surprised by the reasons:
- The inconvenience of special security.
- The prospect that a terrorist might attack.
- The prospect that a lawyer might file suit.
- That pesky Constitution and Bill of Rights.
- Those jurors who don't always impose death sentences.
Greenfield does a fine job pointing out why those arguments are silly, wrongheaded, and deeply offensive. No need for me to rehash that ground. Go read it on his blog and recognize Mukasey for the toady that he is and his postitions for as rankly unAmerican as they are.
But there's another part of what Mukasey wrote that Greenfield doesn't get to (it's off his subject) but that's worth a bit of thought. "[C]ritics of Guantanamo," he writes, referring to pretty much everyone who doesn't think we should be in the business of torture or should be building kangaroo courts and violating the Constitution in order to save it,
seem to believe that if we put our vaunted civilian justice system on display in these cases, then we will reap benefits in the coin of world opinion, and perhaps even in that part of the world that wishes us ill. Of course, we did just that after the first World Trade Center bombing, after the plot to blow up airliners over the Pacific, and after the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
In return, we got the 9/11 attacks and the murder of nearly 3,000 innocents. True, this won us a great deal of goodwill abroad—people around the globe lined up for blocks outside our embassies to sign the condolence books. That is the kind of goodwill we can do without.
Got that? Yes, it's true that if we let our system operate at its best, we will earn [and deserve, he doesn't say] the respect and approbation of the world. But a few lunatics will still hate us, so why bother?
Why bother, indeed? Why do things right if you can't subdue everyone else in the process? Why work with the world when the reward may not be total fealty? Why be a decent human being when there might not be total profit from it? Mukasey apparently did more than drink the Bush/Cheney kool aid. He mainlined it.
Or maybe he was a true believer from the start, which is perhaps even scarier.
Still, it's appropriate that we give Michael Mukasey a thank you for reminding us just how fragile our rights are, how ready we are to abandon them because they're inconvenient, and because honoring what's best in us might not make us successful tyrants.
The Constitution hangs by a thread. We should remember that. Thanks, Mike.