You know, I never thought a high-level Bush cabinet appointee would outflank Dick Durbin on the left, but, well, here you go:
Not only did Michael Mukasey repudiate the so-called 2002 “torture memo” signed by Office of Legal Counsel chief Jay Bybee — which appears to have survived in spirit, if not in letter — but he compared U.S. torture to the Holocaust.
The Bybee memo is “worse than a sin, it’s a mistake,” Mukasey said. He referenced the photographs taken by U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camps in 1945 to document the “barbarism” the U.S. opposed. “They didn’t do that so that we could then duplicate it ourselves.” Beyond legal restrictions barring torture clearly, torture is “antithetical to everything this country stands for.”
Holy crap. As you’ll recall, in 2005 Dick Durbin read a description of US torture techniques on the Senate floor and followed it with this comment:
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Obviously, Durbin wasn’t comparing the Bush administration to Nazis or Soviets. He was saying that the worst excesses of America are starting to approach the standard operating procedures of totalitarian states with regards to detainment. He didn’t say that Guantanamo was the equivalent of a Gulag or concentration camp, and he certainly didn’t compare our torture to the Holocaust.
But Mukasey did. Look, I don’t even think that the worst torture this administration has condoned is so much as in the same ballpark as the final solution. There’s a big difference between widespread, nonlethal torture and the systematic destruction of ethnic groups. If I were the ADL, I’d be getting pissed right now.
But not as pissed as I suspect Bush is. Mukasey implicitly compared the person who appointed him to the highest law enforcement position in the country to Hitler. There are all kinds of weird things about that. If Mukasey is working for a man he considers the moral equivalent of Hitler, how does that not make him a collaborator on par with Quisling? Does Mukasey think Bush should be sent to the Hague? Etc., etc.
My best guess right now is that Mukasey was being purposefully hyperbolic, with the full knowledge and consent of the Bush administration, so as to ease his nomination along. That he would actually believe the words that came out of his mouth is inconceivable.