Atty. General Appointee Mukasey Strong Supporter of Patriot Act, anti-ALA

Seemingly acceptable though he may be to Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress, President Bush's new appointee for the position of Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey, is a strong supporter of the Patriot Act. The International Herald Tribune reported that Mukasey said in a speech in 2004, "That awkward name may very well be the worst thing about the statute."

More cautiously, The Capitol Times of Madison, WI reports "For instance, in a May 10, 2004, op-ed, which was published as the debate about fixing fundamental flaws in the Patriot Act was heating up, Mukasey defended some of the act's most extreme excesses and dismissively told critics to avoid what he termed "reflexive" or "recreational" criticisms of it." The paper calls the candidate "something less than a rule-of-law man when it comes to constitutional matters. As a contributor to the right-wing editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the retired judge has written several articles that suggest he would have trouble balancing civil liberties and national security concerns."

The Wall Street Journal, endorses Mukasey thusly "Earth to Washington: You finally have the right man for the right job at the right time. Try not to screw this one up." New York Times reports on Mukasey's close connection to Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Guiliani and others in the New York legal community.

Here's today's NY Times editorial on the nominee, which refers to statements Mukasey made in 2004 denouncing the "hysteria" of Patriot Act critics, and lashing out at the American Library Association for trying to protect patrons' privacy..


I'm afraid the issue isn't who is the "best" nominee but rather the "best nominee that Bush will pick."

This is the guy.

I agree Chuck, the best nominee was threatened even before he was nominated.

However I do find this nominee and I share certain views, we both like the PATRIOT Act and think the ALA is a bunch of chicken little reactionary liberals.

I know. Lousy 4th amendment lovers.

The quotes given in the IHT, Capitol Times and NYT articles actually all refer to the very same op-ed piece: "The Spirit of Liberty" from the Wall Street Journal 10 May 2004 p A16. Two main excerpts which address the ALA and its concerns:

More recently, a statute called the USA Patriot Act has become the focus of a good deal of hysteria, some of it reflexive, much of it recreational.

My favorite example is the well-publicized resolution of the American Library Association condemning what the librarians claim to believe is a section of the statute that authorizes the FBI to obtain library records and to investigate people based on the books they take out. Some of the membership have announced a policy of destroying records so that they do not fall into the hands of the FBI.

First a word on the organization that gives us this news. The motto of this organization is "Free people read freely." When it was called to their attention that there are 10 librarians languishing in Cuban prisons for encouraging their fellow countrymen to read freely, an imprisonment that has been condemned by Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, among others, this association declined to vote any resolution of condemnation, although they did find time at their convention to condemn their own government.


What about the section the librarians were so concerned about, Section 215? Well, it bears some mention that the word library appears nowhere in that section. What the section does authorize is the issuance of subpoenas for tangible things, including business records, but only upon approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Such a subpoena can direct everyone, including the record keeper, not to disclose the subpoena to anyone, including to the person whose records were obtained. That section also specifically forbids investigation of a citizen or a lawful alien solely on the basis of activity protected by the First Amendment. It requires that the Justice Department report to Congress every six months on subpoenas issued under it. At last report, there have been no such subpoenas issued to libraries. Indeed, there have been no such subpoenas, period.

Let me hasten to add that it is not impossible to imagine how library records might prove highly relevant, as they did in one case, very much pre-9/11 -- the case of the "Unabomber," Ted Kaczynski. Some of you may recall that Kaczynski was apprehended soon after a newspaper agreed to publish his manifesto, and was caught based principally on a tip from his brother, who read the manifesto, and recognized the rhetoric. But one of the ways that tip was proved accurate was through examination of library records, which disclosed that the three arcane books cited in the manifesto had been checked out to Ted Kaczynski from a local library -- a devastating bit of corroborative circumstantial evidence.

Like any other act of Congress, the Patriot Act should be scrutinized, criticized and, if necessary, amended. But in order to scrutinize and criticize it, it helps to read what is actually in it. It helps not to conduct the debate in terms that suggest it gives the government the power to investigate us based on what we read, or that people who work for the government actually have the inclination to do such a thing, not to mention the spare time.

Mukasey then goes on to argue that the Founders intentionally omitted a Bill of Rights from the original Constitution, instead choosing to leave the Bill of Rights to be established later by amendments -- and he interprets this sequence of events as a signal that the rights guaranteed by those amendments are secondary to the survival of the government represented by the body of the Constitution itself.

Problem is, of course, that although Mukasey's op-ed urges us "not to conduct the debate in terms that suggest it gives the government the power to investigate us based on what we read, or that people who work for the government actually have the inclination to do such a thing, not to mention the spare time," the government and some who work for it have, since the publication of this op-ed, managed to prove that the Patriot Act not only does give them exactly that power, but they do in fact have the inclination and spare time to use it.

But if you put in in context it makes complete sense, we certainly can't have that when we are trying to smear someone.

We are not "trying to smear someone". "We" are trying to report on news and information on a subject of interest to librarians and library users.

Did I say you or LISNews were trying to smear anyone? No.

The comment I was responding to listed in the first sentence newspapers that selectively quoted the judge's writing.

In elementary school the kid who protested his innocence before the teacher even finished asking who put glue in the pencil sharpener was usually the kid who did it.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.