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November 02, 2007


Apparently Feingold remains undecided. Anyone in these parts have any idea why?

It seems that Bush's fondness for inflicting pain goes a long way back. Which, as Tristero says, is why some people equate torture with fraternity pranks.

I can't see why any Dem is conflicted about this nomination, given the way it has played out. He does not seem to be concentrating on the torture issue. He should realize that it is indeed a litmus test, in that if he equivocates on torture, he will not be solid on executive power.

But even more importantly, the more people who are complicit in this, the harder it will be to purge the stain.

Well, this is good news. I had hoped that a virtual lobbying trip up to Vermont, by way of Green Mountain Daily, would yield such results. Though really, I expected as much with or without it.

But I was encouraged to find them discussing the fact that a recent TV news poll up there showed 60+% support for impeachment.

Who would have guessed that a sustained campaign of public discussion of the constitutional issues and their remedy would have produced overwhelming public support for something?

I'm glad Leahy is opposing Mukasey on torture.

What is troubling, is the lack of objection to Mukasey's view of executive power with regard to Congress' perogative to challenge executive privilege and contempt of Congress via the justice system, and his view on the executive's so-called inherent authority to break the law.

Leahy's vote will certainly be of principle, but it will be for naught if just one Democrat on the SJC flips. Everytime the Democrats split their votes, it supports the Republican belief that enough Democrats can be bullied into voting with Republicans. It also embellishes the appearance that Democrats are a weak party, not to be trusted with national security because there's a number of Democrats who, in comparison to the Dems who vote Republican, just don't get how to defend America. The Republicans get to point to Democrats like Leahy and Sanders and ask if America wants to be lead by these types of liberals, the ones who are constently on the losing side of the debate. So not only is the Constitution at stake with this vote, there's also a very damaging framing effort that will become more difficult to overcome.

My vote is on Feinstein for the turncoat. I just sent her an e-mail, and urge others with Senators on the committee who have not been heard from (Schumer, Kohl, Cardin and Feingold) to vote no.

CNN.com is just now saying that two Dems will vote for Mukasey, but they aren't yet saying who the suckers are.

Update: from TPM:
CNN: Schumer and Feinstein will vote FOR Mukasey.

Good thing we didn't take bmaz's bet.

We need to lose Schumer and DiFi: they're really not Dems any more. I wouldn't even dignify them as DINOs.

The Washington Post is reporting on Leahy's announcement. Buried in the last paragraph of the article is this:

The CIA used the technique on three prisoners after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but has since ceased the practice, officials have said.

I've not heard this before. Has anyone? This oen paragraph is just loaded.

First, just three prisoners? Come on. These must be extremely valuable suspected terrorist with high name recognition. The officials must feel that Americans would support waterboarding these people.

Second, who are these officials? How many officials? Has this been corraborated elsewhere?

Third, when did the torture take place?

Fourth, when the did the practice stop?

Fifth, why did it stop?

What I just e-mailed to DiFi:
The Constitution is being shredded, with your willing assistance.
The Geneva Conventions on the treatment of civilians and prisoners are being shredded, with your willing assistance.

By voting for Mukasey, you will be voting for its overthrow and for the installation of a king in the White House.
We will have no rights but what the President-for-Life is willing to allow - and so far, that ain't much.
We will have no remedies but what the President-for-Life is willing to allow - and so far, that ain't much.
We will have no say in government by what the President-for-Life is willing to allow - and so far, that ain't much.

Reflect on this, as we all look forward to the dictatorship to come.

It won't do anything to change her vote. But it will let someone, somewhere, know that we noticed and are not happy.

Kagro, if you're still around, can someone put a hold on this? A filibuster? Do we need Dodd to double up his filibusters (since we KNOW the f***ing Dems will fold like a cheap lawn chair on FISA as well). What options have we got to STOP this???

The procedural device to delay taking the vote on the nominee is simple objection, which is overcome by cloture. Ostensibly, objection (and the call for limiting debate) is justified by "need more time to make up my mind," but the device of cloture is routinely abused as in "I've made up my mind, and you need 60 votes to surmount my objection."

Any 16 Senators can file a cloture motion, and after the elapse of a time definite (one day layover after filing the cloture motion to take the cloture vote, plus 30 hours of time after the cloture motion passes), there WILL be a vote on the underlying matter.

It's not unheard of, but it's unusual for a Senator to insist on the full 30 hours, etc., for various reasons -- that boil down to "why delay the inevitable, it'll just piss off the other Senators." Whatever delay is imposed now will end up with the Senate in weekend sessions to complete the handful of items currently on the plate before November recess.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and Abu Zubaydah wwere both tortured, according to Ron Suskind in "The One Percent Doctrine." Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi was rendered by the CIA to Egypt for torture.

I read somewhere recently that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed endured 2 minutes of waterboarding.

All of these three gave useless information that caused people to panic about bombing supermarkets and shopping centers (remember that?) and they talked about plots that didn't exist. KSM's children were threatened with torture and he reportedly said fine--they will be better off with Allah. As Suskind says, after that hasn't worked, there isn't much left to try.

Torture is truly corrupting, and although as Shumer says, there are other important issues, this is something we will live with (and down) for at least a generation.

-- First, just three prisoners? --

Hehehe. Practice the art of careful sentence construction. Here, I'll help.

The CIA used the technique on three prisoners after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but has since ceased the practice, officials have said.

"Three" means "at least three," and that is attributed only to the CIA directly. There may be other agents, outside of the CIA, acting on behalf of US orders, payments, etc.

"After the Sept 11, 2001 attacks" is a throwaway line. There could have been some before and after that date.

"has since ceased the practice" can be construed to mean only the CIA directly, i.e., the US may still hire the practice -- just not by the CIA. A further layer of indefinite construction is in the words "the practice." A slight change in "the practice" would mean a "different practice" was being used. Say, for example, using a different color board, or a different means of restraint, or just holding the victims heads under water instead of strapping them to a board.

Bmaz called it - Shu and DiFi both fell for the 'trust me', again!

California and New York endorsing Torture and the Unitary Executive!

Being 'pragmatic' on Principles is the slippery slope that leads to depravity.

Shumer and Fienstein aren't leaders, they're witless blind followers with no conscience.

Maybe Leahy deserves a moment to smile at Schumer's plight.

Feingold, (D-Wisconsin) almost always votes for nominees on the grounds that a President is entitled to his own ministers -- the argument he made when he voted for confirmation of Ashcroft back in 2001. He contends that makes the President responsible for the actions of all ministers. I don't necessarily agree with the argument, and find it a bit loony given the custom of doing most everything under the cloak of denialability in the Bush/Cheney administration. None the less if he votes to confirm, I assume that will be the grounds.

I think Schumer's situation is most interesting. He was asked by the White House for a short list of acceptable candidates -- and he more or less fell into it by making recommendations. But Bush played some rather dirty poker in this case, during the first day of the hearing, Mukasey seemed forthcoming, and then he began the doubletalk, which essentially put Schumer on the spot. I think the lesson is never to even try to assist the WH -- they will twist it on you.

What I wonder is why Leahy allowed Schumer to do committee business with the WH. As Chair, Leahy should have required the WH deal with him, not a more junior member of the committee. Does this go back to "go F##k yourself?"

Does anyone really believe that Mukasey will be better than an acting loyal Bushie as AG?

Some kind of deal was made very early on. It's why Feingold has been fudging too. IMO, since Whitehouse was so new, no one let him in on the machinations and he surprised the snot out of them all when he asked that kind of question (you know, a real and relevant one).

This is why there was the delay hearing from Hillary. As the other NY kid, she pretty much had to be in on the deal and once the tide turned, they had to work it out so she could still save face on torture but the deal could go forward.

Who knows what is involved in the deal, but at this point, who cares. We will have not only an AG but a Congress who very openly embraces Presidential torture of innocent people with no recourse. All Whitehouse did was make it very obvious, what was being done. Yippee.

After the MCA orchestration, it's not a suprise, but what a sad legacy. Almost every time I think nothing this Congress does could be more depressingly evil, they go the next unthinkable step, with grins and back slaps.

Here's the question I'd like to see polled:

If Congress began impeachment investigations would you feel:

a) more favorable towards Congress;
b) less favorable towards Congress; or
c) unchanged.


KSM's children are still unaccounted for.

Arar, el-Masri, Padilla, pretty much everyone at GITMO, etc. - they've all been abused and tortured.

Congress doesn't care bc no one in the media makes it the 24 hour cycle story.

I suspect that a lot of these people have contracts somewhere, signed in blood.
Not for music, but for political power.
It's the only way I can think of it: they sold their souls for power, and admitting it is now impossible, because they'll lose everything if - when - they do.
Now they're also responsible for the consequences of their actions (and inactions).
They'd have been better off powerless.

It is a very sad day indeed when America has to look to other countries to uphold the rule of law and human rights because those terms have become meaningless here. I feel sick. I am also convinced that Leahy only announced he would oppose the nomination when he was certain that Schumer and Feinstein would take the fall. He did not have to schedule a vote for Tuesday. He could have gotten his members on the SJC on board with a no vote, prior to announcing anything. It's just like Southwick. And I will bet that Leahy already knows telecomm immunity is going to stick on Thursday as well. All his protestations, whatever they may be, will be for show.

I just looked it up on Wiki, and was appalled! The USA should not conduct any form of toture period. We need to regain our standing in the World as be reputable in our standards. I can't wait for this horrid regime to take a hike. I fear they might want to start WWWIII with Iran.

i detest the idea that -- once again -- sen.
patrick leahy's courageous, fiery rhetoric,
about pol pot using water-boarding, and ike's
cashiering (dismissing) of a general for
allowing his men to use waterboarding, and
prosecuting the japanese after ww ii for in-
flicting this same torture on american p.o.w.s. . .

has all but been rendered IMPOTENT by the
announcements of sen. di fi and sen. schumer.

i detest the idea that mukasey will likely
be confirmed, despite patrick leahy's very
thoughtful re-evaluation of his positions.

now -- having written that, i turn ot the positive:

here's to the hope that mukasey will do just
a little more than the absolute minimum, to
proect his gorund-level troops at DoJ, the
rank and file career prosecutors. . . they've
been twisting in the wind, ever since ashcroft
resigned -- and in truth, probably for more than
two-thirds of ashcroft's term of service. . .

but now it is time to protect what is left of
the department of justice -- time to make sure
that it won't take decades (as opposed to merely
years) after the 2008 elections, to restore the
proud reputation of justice. . . we, as a nation,
need to believe in these law-and -order people
again, almost as much as we need to be sure that
our president does not order torture (any more).

cheers, to one and all -- here's to a tough week.

may the next one be better. . .

p e a c e

There is a sucker born every minute and we are all newborn babies to our Congressional Democratic Leadersheep. I like Mary's poll.

phred -- again, i think se. leahy's remarks
are, and were, genuine. i think we are seeing
a race to the bottom -- i think we all agree
that a NOMINEE who believes waterboarding is
"repugnant" is better than an APPOINTEE who
sez "its all GOOD to me!" (that's kiesler.)

we'll see about teleco immunity.

i think that is a differnet kettle of fish.

p e a c e

We should certainly replace DiFi in CA. I think it could happen.
She's been around much too long, is way too comfortable in her job.

As one of her constituents (and someone who watched dave mcelhatton deliver her golden moment live on TV after the Moscone assassination), I seriously cannot figure out what good DiFi is. Aside from having a catchy nickname, she seems the least Californian of any potential Democratic Senator.

I hadn't seen ReaderofTeaLeaves' comment on the Bush/Schumer thread, but ROTL pretty much called it, that Whitehouse's questioning caused the tailspin. I left a longer comment there.

Meanwhile, standby for the state secrets invocation in the AIPAC journalists trial


Judge Ellis took Sr. status this year and in mid-Oct he was busy dismissing a SWIFT misuse/abuse suit.

Now, he's approved subpoenas to issue against Rice, Hadley and Abrams, but will pretty assuredly be then ready to toss the whole AIPAC suit when the Gov lawyers are "forced" to claim state secrets for the long long list of leaks to lobbyists of info an American citizen would never be given.


Oh. My. Gawd. How can this be happening? Torture by any other name would smell as excremental. Shame on Schumer and Feinstein! Shame on all of the Repugnicans who'll confirm Mukasey. You can easily imagine someone in the Reichstag in 1930s Germany performing such an odious retreat from sanity. But here? Now? It's beyond understanding.

nolo -- It is the job of those in leadership positions to know where their members stand. If he sincerely wanted to prevent pro-torture, pro-UE, pro-politicization Mukasey's appointment, he could have held off scheduling the vote. This has happened on every important piece of legislation by this Congress. At some point you have to hold the leadership to account. They are in favor of Republican policies. I'm done. I gave them every last ounce of the benefit of the doubt that I possess. For the sake of everyone, I sincerely hope your optimism is on the mark and my disgusted pessism is way off base. But I will only believe it, when I see proof. Thus far, the only proof I have is Republican success whether in the majority or minority. Zip on the left side of the ledger.

It strikes me that Mukasey was totally upfront with the positions that he will be taking as Attorney General.

Shorter Mukasey: Torture is against the law, the president says we don't torture, therefore we are in compliance with the law. The ultimate unitary executive minion.

Its Feinstein that screws the pooch again - first that horrible judge Leslie Southwick and now Mukasey. Feinstein's husband owns/runs Perini Corp. Feinstein's sudden resignation from a Sebate committee or subcommittee (maybe 18 months ago) that would appear to be directly involved with contracts involving Perini certainly suggests that there was at a minimum the appearance of a conflict of interest. Or maybe the NSA wiretappers have evidence on Feinstein that enables Bush to get her vote by threatening to expose some dirt.

Always wondered that about Arlen Specter as well - he sometimes says good things and almost always votes the wrong things.

Feinstein and Schumer are no different than LIEberman.

They should be kicked out of the Democratic party - a party which will knowingly enable the torture Presidency if it confirms Mukasey and share responsibility for this tremendous affront to civilized people the world over.

FAS has hosted Judge T.S. Ellis III's Opinion and Order authorizing subpoenas in the AIPAC case.

Court Authorizes Subpoenas of Senior Officials in AIPAC Case

Memorandum Opinion US v. Rosen - Case 1:05-cr-225 E.D.Va.

Interesting reading. The governments sole objection, so far, has been that the evidence obtained would be cumulative, immaterial, or irrelevant. Not a peep (yet) of "state secret."

Under the new "Mitch McConnell Rule", Mukasey needs 60 votes to be confirmed. Does he have them?

I wonder why Ellis closed the courtroom for arguments on the subpoenas during the Summer and said it was bc of classified info?

In any event, Gov is in a bit of a catch-22 on Rice, bc on the one had they have argued in open court and to the court that Rice never gave any national defense info to the defendants - so it will make it that much harder on them to argue she can't be questioned about things she supposedly never said.

Interesting asides - supposedly the indictment indicates that THREE gov officials gave info to the lobbyists, Franklin being one and rumors were that David Satterfield, who was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Baghdad embassy, was the other.

After all the brouhaha, he became a Sr. Advisor to Rice in 2006.

Even this AIPAC opinion has a classified appendix. The courtroom was closed b/c the judge was hearing specific details and counterarguments from the putative witnesses. CIPA at work. If the government says the info is classified, the judge has no choice but to go the CIPA route. Within CIPA, the judge has the power to make evidentiary decisions, permit or deny substitutions, etc., where the judge's decisions are aimed at obtaining a fair trial.

As a dear colleague observed this week, "We are a monstorous people."

Mukasey's ok on torture, Di-Fi and Schumer are ok on torture, and the silence from the general public implies that the collective "we" are ok on torture.

Feingold's methodology is hopelessly outdated, and could stand a tune-up.

How does he reconcile even having a vote on the issue with his position, anyway?

Consent means consent. When you give it, that means something. Not just, "I was here."

Is the fix in?

Have Our leaders -

Reid (shady land deal)
Pelosi (impeachment off table)
DiFi (steering contracts to husband?)
Shumer (must have given Murky a blow job?)
Harman (straight up Traitor)
Rockefeller (SSCI Ph II?)
Reyes (doormat)
etc, etc

been compromised?

Have they thrown away their moral compasses because it doesn't matter to them anymore? Are they powerless against being 'told' how to vote?

Are they human marionettes being moved by inhuman evil?

Are they Goopers?

Thats what I get for hanging around a blog full of smart people; no takers on the money maker bet. And Kagro is right on Feingold. Is that his final answer? A little unsatisfying for him ....

Must vote red

I'm Dead Serious,,,,,,,,we are being played for suckers. This Yellow Congress needs to face another Republican president. Vote red or stay home.
Heil Amerika

Feingold also fails to see the importance of impeachment. We are utterly bereft of leadership in Congress.

Just in case you might be interested, I posted this over at Firedoglake:

BREAKING: From ABC News - Bush Administration Blocked Waterboarding Critic:
A senior Justice Department official, charged with reworking the administration's legal position on torture in 2004, became so concerned about the controversial interrogation technique of waterboarding that he decided to experience it firsthand, sources told ABC News.

U.S. Official Undergoes Waterboarding

Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general, went to a military base near Washington and underwent the procedure to inform his analysis of different interrogation techniques.

After the experience, Levin told White House officials that even though he knew he wouldn't die, he found the experience terrifying and thought that it clearly simulated drowning.

Levin, who refused to comment for this story, concluded water boarding could be illegal torture unless performed in a highly limited way, and with close supervision. And, sources tell ABC News, he believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines on its use.

Bush Administration Blocked Critic

The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin's predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration's legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December of 2004 Levin released the new memo. He said "torture is abhorrent" but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration's previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources say he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general...

cboldt - I was being a bit facetious about the gov's open court arguments being that Rice NEVER disclosed ANY classified national defense information to the lobbyists, but, um, well, the hearing had to be closed bc it was rife with classified info. ;)

EW's going to have to find some wifi to download this one:


Article with much more info about what kind of communications were going on between Qwest and NSA and other telecoms and NSA.

Lots there, but the close will be particularly gratifying to her I bet:

They noted, however, that many in the agency had long thought that monitoring "metadata," such as a phone number, the length of a call, or a series of calls placed from a particular phone, didn't implicate privacy because such information didn't constitute the "content" of a message -- its written or spoken words.

With that, night.

-- I was being a bit facetious about the gov's open court arguments being that Rice NEVER disclosed ANY classified national defense information to the lobbyists, but, um, well, the hearing had to be closed bc it was rife with classified info. --

Heheh. You got me on that one. ;-)

I'm so used to the government asserting secrecy when it has nothing to hide, just because it can, that the irony blew right past me.

Thanks for the tip on the NSA/Qwest article.

And thanks too (big appreciative thanks) for your knowledgeable yet cynical posts. I've learned more than a few things reading your work.

Wear Black on Tuesday.

Pass it on...

Talking Points now has John Dean's opinion of the potential Mukasey nomination posted. He says the committee should take the Elliot Richardson route: insist that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate whether Shrub has committed war crimes - or the nomination dies in committee. (No words are minced.)

Hey your leaders have spoken.
They know what they are doing.

Prove it.

What's Kucinich doing in preparation for the primaries? I searched two Burlington brand local city clerk reports of local ballot measures in November 7, 2006 election; in one city of nearly 700,000 there was a ballot measure to impeach both Bush and Cheney; it won by a wide margin; in the other city of 100,000 a similar measure was victorious by a smaller majority but still over 60% of voters approved impeachment. I think the congress with approval around 12% is out of touch, but smugly thinking that if a majority of cities vote to impeach it will be less than a groundswell. Politicians who ignore popular feedback usually end up voted out of office. History site with nice parchment graphics. I wonder if there are websites which have aggregated the total number of voters who already have approved of the House launching impeachment. Placing a measure on ballots in the primary would give pause to a few folks in office, and might strengthen Mukasey's conservative hand in taughtening the leash on whatever the fourth branch and its subsidiaries are. Now, there's a question some senator on the floor of the full chamber might ask, rhetorically, "Judge Mukasey, is the vice president elected to the executive with the president actually not part of the same branch as the voters thought?"

Mukasey has been a done deal since he was nominated. Waterboarding pales compared to the way he enabled DOJ and endorsed its abuse of the material witness laws while he was on the bench in the Southern District of New York.

Mukasey, with no medical experience other than when he goes to the bathroom, did a medical evaluation in his courtroom after an attorney pointed out his client had been severly beaten by BOP guards, immediately saying "he looks fine to me."

Intel immunity is a done deal as is leaving up future violations to Mukasey and the tyrant who follows him in the Rubberstamp Senate Judiciary Committee. It just gets done on a different day Thursday from Mukasey's confirmation on Tuesday.

If you were under the illusion that any Democrat can get anything you hoped done, and derail complete and consistent Bush rubberstamping, I respectfully suggest you get over it.

They are acting in front of a largely indifferent American population who is getting exactly the lack of Democracy it deserves in the light of their extreme apathy and ignorance of any substantive government issues.

Get used to the fact that you have seen nothing whatsoever substantive from the so-called Democrats aka Bush rubberstamps in the 110th Congress

Waterboarding has been known to be torture for over 600 years. All we're trying to figure out now is how many Dems have been bought or are being blackmailed (like Mukasey himself).

If any Dem votes him out of committee or to confirm, they should be stripped of the Dem label, stripped of committee assignments, censured and voted out of the Senate itself (if that's legal). In fact, I'd go so far as to say someone should get them on a live t.v. camera and call them a traitor to America.

If Dems can't stand up on this one we're a pretty pathetic bunch of cowards and the Republicans would be right to call us weak.

Of course, some say DiFi isn't really a Dem to start with. Some say she bends to whomever speaks nice to her and gives her attention. I hope she uses some common sense and her spine.

On a political note, this should never be considered an example of how a Clinton administration might behave. I don't believe for a second that Hillary is anything like DiFi. She may be a Repub-Lite or an equivocator, but she's not a pushover or weak. Two women can be as different as two men.

-- They are acting in front of a largely indifferent American population who is getting exactly the lack of Democracy it deserves in the light of their extreme apathy and ignorance of any substantive government issues. --

I'm an enemy of democracy (being fiercely independent and a fan of limited republican government), but hand a big huzzah to the observation of a US population who looks to the government for solutions. They deserve the solutions they get.

MarkH: The horror is that DiFi is tough as nails. A friend who is a political bagman (I mean it) describes her as the iciest pol he has ever dealt with.

She is just not on the side of the people; she is a believer in state power uber alles. Always has been.

Being 'pragmatic' on Principles is the slippery slope that leads to depravity.
Ethics 101. I remember the 1968 dem convention in Chicago with Shriners blithely clowning and weathermen advocating violence while thousands marched to end the war and the Dem center was prowar. What has changed in 40 years? It took 4 more years to stop it. We have thought control with the media, we have private armies doing the dirty work that government troops can't legally do. With the recession as poverty increases their is more troops to prod the "Cattle" into submission. Where is civil disobedience today? From Ferlighetti to pragmatism welcome to "1984" Soma addiction is on the rise. Orwell and Burroughs showed it in the raw we see it cloaked in freedom. Pray fervently that does not change.

> Where is civil disobedience today?

Cowed into submission.
Confined to Free Speech Zones.
Surrendering all liquids in containers larger than 3.5 oz.
Presenting our mandatory government ID to the officer.
Excluded from the rally for wearing a "Question Authority" tshirt under its dress shirt, for having a Gore bumpersticker.
Worried more about making the next month's rent than about the rule of law, its Constitutional rights, torture, or an undeclared pre-emptive war of agression.
Afraid of terrorists and that it might be called soft on terror.

We have the government we deserve, the one we have earned by allowing our own decline into being mere consumers, spectators, an audience rather than a citizenry. In a word, sheep.

"...democracy is not something you believe in,
or a place you hang your hat, but it's something you do.
You participate. If you stop doing it,
democracy crumbles and falls apart."
Abby Hoffman

"When the freedom they wished for most
was the freedom from responsibility,
then Athens ceased to be free,
and never was free again." - Edith Hamilton

Kagro X, I don't have an account over at DKos, so since I know you look in over here, just wanted to give you major kudos on your post over there this morning. Thanks for calling out Feinstein and Feingold, who evidently are unaware of the power vested in the United States Congress.

Pete Pierce, I share your rage, but I disagree with your view of the public at large. The majority of Americans oppose Bush's war, his administration, and disapprove of Congress (in even larger numbers than disapprove of Bush). The majority of Americans favor impeachment. The problem lies not with the public, but with a system which is working quite effectively against the public will.

I have been trying to figure out for months now what action citizens can take to bring this abusive government to an end. I have pestered my lawyer friends here with endless questions on the subject. And it ultimately comes down to this, individual citizens do not have the legal standing to prosecute a sitting President. Our only recourse is for Congress to impeach. If Congress refuses to impeach, then our only recourse to to remove them via the next election (anywhere from 1 to 5 years at this point, depending on the individual in question). Meanwhile both parties have done a fine job of terrifying their base supporters into thinking that voting for the other party will lead to the end of civilization as we know it. Not exactly a healthy environment for mounting primary challenges or the ascent of third parties. Hence, I reiterate the public is hamstrung.

Perhaps you assign apathy to the public because you see no visible sign of protest. Yet when was the last time you saw any significant response to a street protest in this country? People don't go, because they don't believe them to be effective. The public expects their representatives to be responsive, but when they are not we are flummoxed by what to do about it, other than waiting for the next election day.

We are seriously caught between a rock and a hard place. I share your rage and sense of impotence at the forces arrayed against our democracy, but what course of action to correct it do you recommend?

By the way, Sen. Feinstein did not "cave".
She is not spineless.
She stands up for her own true principles; always has.

And those principles are:
- more power to the powerful
- more authority for those in charge
- more money for the wealthy
- screw the weak, the poor, and the powerless

She has never been a liberal, although she sometimes imitates one with a fair degree of versimilitude.

Her current term of office ends in 2012.
We have five years in which to find an actual Democrat to replace her. Seems like it should be enough.

phred: go read Dean's letter at TPM yesterday evening. He has an out, if the committee is willing to try it. At worst, we won't be any worse off following his suggestion than we are now. At best - well, we might be able to get some impeachments out of it. And new congresscritters.

Thanks PJ, I read it yesterday. I think Dean's suggestion of requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor in exchange for Mukasey's approval is an excellent one. I worry though with Schumer and Feinstein's premature capitulation that the Dems will once again come away empty handed. Still, I will press my own Senators as well as Sen. Leahey on this point. Lets keep our fingers crossed!

See the articles (eg, ThinkProgress) on Daniel Levin's ouster at the DOJ. He replaced Goldsmith at the OLC until 'Fredo showed up, then was quickly outed. Levin tried waterboarding and quickly concluded it was or "could be" torture. The literature would agree with him. But in AddingtonWorld, Levin committed virtual suicide because his conclusion threatened the Boss with prosecution and hard jail time.

Let's also corrrect the TM (traditiona media) as frequently as necessary. As the Nance article points out, waterboarding is NOT "simulated" anything. It IS drowning: the gag reflex is overcome, the lungs fill with water, panic ensues long before.

Repetitive drowning, repetitive recovery. Whether it results in death is at the mercy, talent and supervision of the interrogator.

I suggest that our Californian friends take an informal poll of their ocean rescue-qualified lifeguard friends. I'd put waterboarding in the category with seeing that tall vertical fin a few yards from your board. Worse, because a tail flip and that fin slides away, whereas forced drowning is guaranteed death unless you piss your pants and spill the beans (regardless of the truth).

phred - I sent Dean's opinion to DiFi, Schumer, and Leahy, on the grounds that they need to know there's still a way to avoid the bottomless pit full of excrement they're about to jump into. (No, that wasn't the phrase I used. But it might have been a good line, if I'd thought of it then.)

Senator Di-Sellout-Fi has authored an op-ed in the LA Times to tell us all how right and bright she is on Mukasey.

Judge Mukasey is not Alberto R. Gonzales. In our confirmation hearings (and subsequently, in writing), Judge Mukasey's answers to hundreds of questions were crisp and to the point, and reflected an independent mind. That's why I intend to vote to confirm him to be our next attorney general. I truly believe he will be a strong advocate for the American people.
The bottom line is this: I hope that Judge Mukasey will fairly and evenhandedly represent the American people and direct the Justice Department wherever the facts and the law lead, not where the White House dictates.

Our nation needs a strong and independent attorney general, and I believe that Judge Mukasey will rise to the challenge.

Well, I certainly feel better now, how about you?

bmaz -- Go take a peek at Kagro's post on that op-ed over at DKos, he dismantles it in fine style ;) No matter how you slice it, there is no excuse whatsoever for the Senate to condone the UE and torture. But, as PJ points out, I would settle for the consolation prize of a special prosecutor. Yep, I sure would. Pardon me while I hum Jailhouse Rock quietly to myself in a fit of hopefulness...

Thanks PJ, I read it yesterday. I think Dean's suggestion of requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor in exchange for Mukasey's approval is an excellent one. I worry though with Schumer and Feinstein's premature capitulation that the Dems will once again come away empty handed. Still, I will press my own Senators as well as Sen. Leahey on this point. Lets keep our fingers crossed!

Posted by: phred | November 03, 2007 at 11:35

i think this an EXCELLENT approach!

dean is spot-on, as ever.

i, too will get on the horn on
monday morning to leahy's office. . .

great contact-point for this idea, phred. . .

here is a one minute, ten second
video of senator leahy yesterday,
in vermont, with an archival montage
of teddy rooselvelt, to boot
. . .

nolo -- great video, thanks for the link! Lets hope we can get the Dems to require a special prosecutor in exchange for Mukasey's approval. If that happens, I think we will both be happy ;) Well, happier ;)

Phred - A) Go Pack! B) GO SUN DEVILS! (Tough road to hoe tonight against the Ducks in Eugene). C) Mukasey was questioned about whether he would ever consider the appointment of special prosecutors, and he replied that he thought the DOJ was capable of handling anything that needed to be addressed. Let me translate that; he means no, he won't consider a special prosecutor, and he does not see anything existing that needs to be investigated. Bush will curl up his lip, whine and flat out refuse any notion of appointing any special prosecutor. This was a non-starter before DiFi and Schumer locked their votes in; it certainly isn't going to be factored in now. The bargaining is over on Mukasey it appears.

Do you think we can anti-depressants made OTC drugs in the next two months? Because I think we'll be needing them until 2009 at least.

And any senators who believe Mukasey's line about Congress passing laws and Bush obeying them - they're not living in the same universe as us. I'm seeing signing statements on just about everything from here to whenever Bush is out of office (sooner rather than later, I hope).

Geez bmaz, your comment started out on such a happy note (Go PACK & Sun Devils!, surely a devil can beat a duck ;) But then you had to go and rain on my parade -- dude I'm desperately grasping at straws here, I need all the hope I can muster...

So you think the special prosecutor angle is hopeless then? Any idea how they managed to get Cox with Richardson back in the day? I realize the Rethugs weren't lockstep goons then as they are now, but was it only through the cooperation of Republicans in Congress that they managed to get a special prosecutor last time?

I'm with you PJ, anti-depressants, plus I should probably go lock up all my sharp objects as well ;)


I certainly agree with you that there is no means for the public to make their government responsive. Congress responds to huge doners only--corporations who line up and buy a trick --I've refined my study of government and Congress to the "Big Whore House" concept which basically is what the sophisticated books analyzing K Street and the lobbying platform that has developed bottom line to.

I hate to sound like such a cynic. I enjoy the comments and learn from them, but I don't believe that there is any effective way to make government responsive in the United States unless you have megabucks or are a large corporation who can afford a gamut of law firms to lobby for you like the list of law firms for Verizon and ATT that successfully lobbied to get Telco Immunity and a bill that's going to pass that turns the US into a police state and eviscerates the 4th amendment in a week or two:

Former Clinton officials lobby for amnesty for FISA lawbreaking

I don't base my assessment of American apathy on the lack of protests although that would be one component in addition to the hypocritical contrast between the always full house sign waving university kids and bands as a backdrop to Chris Tweety Bird Mathews a very superficial skimmer of issues who can't refrain from interrupting his guests after a few words) and the fact that these kids never show up at the polls during any election. A parallel is also how African American talking heads urge that African Americans become engaged with issues only to have a very pathetic African American turn out also at the polls.

Past Presidential elections and Congressional elections with so-called "hip hop get out the vote campaigns" where the vote never began to get out is a case in point.

My main assessment of indifference is the pathetic airheaded TV media cable stations and the network news. The copy that is prepared for the Ken and Barbies to read are aimed at the level of middle school children. They miss every significant point, and make no significant effort to educate their viewers.

The decreasing readership of WaPo, NYTimes, and the major print media is more evidence for me.

Juxtapose that with the exponentially increasing "airhead focus factor" -- the increasing obssession of cable and network news with the minutiae of such world leaders as Britney spears and competing baby daddies.

One would think that kids coming out of school who at least have a superficial ability to use "the google" as Bush calls it, or some search engine would be much better educated, and much better writers because of these new tools. The blogosphere could be another tool that would help their reading and writing abilities.

I find this just not to be the case with high school grads headed to college as compared with years ago, and I don't know what happened to reading lists of classics and the ability to write in this population, but they are both things of the past as far as I can tell. I wonder what teachers are assigning in high schools.

Just because a kid is headed to an Ivy league or any quality school doesn't at all mean that they have read a fraction of what another generation read or that their writing skills are what they used to be in a comparable population a generation ago.

I think this helps breed apathy.

As much as I hate to use a 6yr old's logic and argument, I have a sneaking suspicion that the administration is relying on some truly tortured logic and semantics to confuse the issue. There is such thing as water boarding with consent, as it is just a nomenclature for a technique. In terms of number of instances of water boarding by the government, the ones with consent far out number water boarding as torture/interrogation. Consenting water boarding are used for instructional and experimental purposes. The number of SERE trainees, the number of (now defunct and probably operating under different name) school of americas graduates probably outnumber enemy combatants held and tortured. It is trite reasoning for sure, but keeping the notion of consenting water boarding in mind will allow totally non committed bold faced non-answer to non-contextualized questions such as "is water boarding unconstitutional?". Unlike rape, assault,or for that matter torture, which by definition are non-consenting acts, water boarding is just an illustrative description. (Seriously they will stoop this low given what needs to be protected)

When you see the leakage of such logical construct, you see it in confused messages such as torture being denied on basis of intent and who is doing it (it probably should, to be on message, be who is it being done to).

Don't for a moment assume that the way in which language is being used is on basis of common understanding of public issues. Right now the language being used is precisely to obscure and protect specific criminal acts by specific persons.

Unfortunately this gets the two senators off the hook as well, though they probably have not been read into the semantics of it all.

What I think is going on with Difi was alluded to by one discrete commenter above. After her having been into Daniel's lion's den with Moscone, her psychology is firmed around civil unrest and social miscreancy; while on the board of supervisors she favord the skyscraper builders and expansion of what four decades later became yuppie urban lofts renting for multi $1,000.'s per month as SiliconeValley spread north, or, rather, as the virtual reality innovators reached south and misced with the silicon valley quad core thinfilm mask layout folks and micro became pico and nanoscale. She is a Democrat but somewhat center of FD Roosevelt; and some of her values are progressive; in fact, she is a tolerant person, in my experience. When she was a supe, I refused to vote for her; but the Democrat machine in CA now has two very senior senators and needs to modernize, though Boxer has grown in office greatly and DiFi has a nifty instinct for exposing male obfuscation in hearings and both senators are protective of personal rights well within the mainstream of the modern Democratic party; so, they are good advocates.
An interesting intellectual litmus for Mukasey, I have found, would be to imagine his nomination by a Republican who is less scattered and more centrist than Bush's hodge-podge coalition of regressives and intellectuals. Mukasey's hurdle is all the illicitude Cheney and Bush have foisted upon the entire executive, and the soporific Rovian jawboning that has emasculated the other two branches. but I need to read again just how reluctant Mukasey claims he would be to keep the number of contact points between Justice and White House at the permutation total exceeding 700, if I remember Whitehouse's graphic. One interesting anecdote from his past is the work he did representing Barrons and Wallstreet Journal at a time when the latter was slightly more open. Lucy Dalglish has a nice whitepaper praising Mukasey as protector of journos; but, given the pipelineful of suppressive motions in the courts the current DoJ and administration have propagated, it could be interesting to see what Mukasey would do to rebalance that atmosphere at a time when editors and publishers are hedging their bets. I would expect Cheney's transition workers to be burying archives by the millions throughout the entire next year, Mukasey or no Mukasey; the idea being to revise the history before it can be written. On the bright side, I have read recently that Carl Bernstein gave a funny lecture at the Reagan Library now that it has converted to government management. We will see how that goes, while we keep hoping the vote machines work; Ken Blackwell likely is hoping the runtime works his way once more; say, is this UL seal of approval valid?.

There is such thing as water boarding with consent, as it is just a nomenclature for a technique.

I don't think anyone is arguing about using it in military survival and resistance training.
We're talking about it being used on prisoners.
That's torture, by any definition ... other than the definition this maladministration is using, that is.

You can see a video of waterboarding on HuffingtonPost

In this case the guy voluntarily underwent waterboarding. He admits that he felt he was going to die during the procedure even though he's been through it before (in the military) and even though he knew it was being done on the video for demonstration purposes only.

Some thoughts:
I've heard people ask how if one's head is held in a position below the lungs in waterboarding techniques that this can simulate drowning?

It is true that water would have a hard time travelling up into the lungs in this position (head below the level of the lungs), but this observation overlooks two points:

First: Water is being poured into the cloth pushed into the victim's mouth. If the water is not exiting the mouth or the nose, then the water level IS travelling upwards and, I assume, into the windpipe if enough volume of water is poured in.

Second: The victim periodically is sat upright. If the victim has a mouth full of water and needs to breath at the same time as he or she needs to swallow, choking will ensue if water runs into the windpipe. Then the process repeats.

Below is the "core" of a letter I am sending to my senators, the SJC, and to the editors of various newspapers. Please feel free to use it as a starting point for your own letter. Everyone should write at least to their senators about this.

Here it is:

It looks like the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote to send the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey to the Senate floor for a vote on his confirmation as Attorney General. While the media has focused on the senators’ reactions to his refusal to say that waterboarding is torture, there are more and deeper concerns with Mukasey, such as whether he will enforce contempt charges brought by the Congress, whether he will provide records requested or subpoenaed by the Congress, whether he will perpetuate the shielding the Bush-Cheney administration from investigations of multiple abuses of the United States Constitution and other laws under specious claims of executive privilege.

John Dean, former White House Counsel to President Nixon wrote a letter suggesting to make Mukasey’s confirmation contingent upon the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate if war crimes have been committed (the letter can be read at http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/057806.php). I urge that the Special Prosecutor be appointed and given a broader mandate to look at the warrantless wiretapping, the misleading of Congress and the American public in the lead-up to the attack on Iraq, among a long list of other things.

Congress must take urgent action to right the ship of state before it is damaged further.

Mukasey's won't appoint a special prosecutor, nor will he allow his US Attorney in DC to enforce a Congressional criminal contempt citation. That means he won't investigate the Cheney administration, not for any conduct prior to his coming into office and probably not afterwards.

He will focus on peripheral office clearing and ignore to his staffs' chagrin the elephant in the living room, which means that few of the essential improvements he imagines he wants to implement will take hold.

Mukasey also accepts most of Cheney's unitary executive hogwash. Given that, he isn't likely to conclude that much that Bush does is wrong politically or illegal as a matter of law. But Kagro X still has it nailed. David Addington is and will remain Attorney General so long as Cheney remains in command.

The best hope is that a string of Henry Waxman's are elected in '08 who are willing to investigate, document, and publicly prosecute. Gerald Ford's "let bygones be bygones" fantasies were false: he was promoting silence, not healing, which could only protect the GOP and its top talent. It was wrong in 1974; it would be wrong to repeat it thirty-five years later.

Regarding the comment about waterboarding and how water could fill the lungs when the prisoner is inverted, try sucking on a straw with your nose plugged after first having held your breath for a minute or two. Water can flow up when you are desperately inhaling.

Any lifeguard will tell you that near drowning is a nasty business and requires medical observation and treatment, especially if the water was not crystal clean. ("Drowning" presumes death; waterboarding involves repetitive near drowning.) When done repeatedly by an enemy who doesn't care whether you live or die, it quickly exhausts the prisoner and induces terror.

I like John Dean's idea of demanding the Mukassey appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate war crimes, much like Archibald Cox was forced to do when Nixon appointed him. If Mukassey refuse, then no A.G. we cannot be any worse off with the current Bush loyalist than the next. Both are wholly owned by the telecom corporations.

My definition of waterboarding is the torture that so many people who can't stand the Bush administration will be undergoing when they wake up and see the idiots who are purported Democratic Senators so frightened that they vote Bushie every time. Did I mention that they vote Bushie everytime? So I mean you have Mukasey and he couldn't give a damn about your rights--that's been made crystal clear. You have Telco Immunity as well. Quite a nice dual for one week of flying your rights into the ground.

Here's a link to a talk by Naomi Wolf about the basic steps that are used to dismantle a democracy and how they apply to the US today. I don't want to make your weekend more depressing than it is, but I think by articulating the steps it will be easier to show people who still don't get what is going on. The talk is here

The ten steps she identifies are:

1. Declare the existence of sleeper cells.
2. Create a secret prison system where torture takes place outside the rule of law and very often establish military tribunals that strip prisoners of due process
3. Create a paramilitary force
4. Create a surveillance apparatus for its ordinary citizens.
5. Arbitrarily detain and release citizens,
6. infiltrate citizen groups
7. Target key individuals
8. Restrict the press
9. Recast dissent as treason
10. Declare martial law - months before an election, destabilization

A quote particularly pertinent to this posting is this one:

"Name a society that created a secret prison system outside the rule of law where torture takes place that didn’t sooner or later turn the abuse against its own citizens."

Pete Pierce:

I'm sure you know this but I want to state it anyway: American television "news" is extremely poor on purpose. It's not news, it's the circus part of bread and circuses.

American education is also extremely poor on purpose. That's the bread part. Schools aim, with varying degrees of success, to secure "good jobs" for their pupils. That means turning the kids into functional workers, and giving them the credential needed to get into whatever terminal job is a "good job" in their community. In some neighborhoods that means getting into Yale and investment banking, in others it means getting a high school degree and a job as a cop or welder, but the only purpose of modern schools that I can detect is to properly train young people to be workers. And if they do this well, the parents, no matter what social class they are, will love the schools. Because a "good job" is the bread part of the bread and circuses promise.

It's certainly no accident that there is no critical thinking taught in schools, nor real information found in the news. What possible good could come to those in power, if they gave those two things away to the rest of us??

Now, that Americans are docile enough to accept bread and circuses, and the pursuit of family and/or chosen community (church or any other common-interest group)... well, when times are good I suppose there's no reason not to accept those things. It's not a bad social contract if neither party is cheating. But it looks like the leadership side of that social contract has been masking a deeply deteriorating situation for the USA since maybe the early 70s (?), and relying on our exceedingly naive faith in the "news" to pull off the lie. Apparently they are going to continue to hide our own future from us until it finally arrives all of a sudden, at which point they'll be climbing into helicopters and leaving for their carefully prepared safe havens (while others of them stage-direct the "outraged response"). And at that late date all of the choices and changes and sacrifices that that large American class could have made for itself at various earlier junctures will have been missed. That's what Americans are being cheated of in this broken social contract: the right to make large-scale changes and sacrifices to protect their own children and grandchildren. The leadership won't let Americans find out what is needed until after it is too late, and that is just so they can all make more money on Exxon stock, and that is evil. Or incredibly selfish, which maybe is the same thing.

I think we need to radically accept that congress is not working on our behalf to protect us from the reality that Naomi lays out. They just are not doing the job. So what can we, the american people do to protect ourselves from the inevitable path, if we do not intervene? For every action there is a consequences. What consequences would stop the actions of the evolving fascist state??? And how do we intervene effectively.

I am going to speak on the constitution at work on tues. I am going to ask my colleagues to read "Shock Doctine". Somebody on fdl suggested we write and call Biden and try to get him to organize pressure on Feinstein and Schumer. WE must be the solution because congress will not. We can use those who have been willing to speak out, to the best of our ability but we need to accept that democrats have been infiltrated.

What are the solutions? What positive steps can we take to begin a long slow change?

Feingold is voting against Mukasey. Not only because of the torture stuff, but also because he won't say that the President has to obey the law.

Feingold got it.

I'm wondering this:
If the Republicans become the regional/minority party that they're heading for, can the Dems spit and take over as the two major parties? Would this be better for everyone? Would it even be a viable solution?

Also, how much of the tension in the country these days is the result of the current political mess? Is the government encouraging the tension buildup, in hopes that when it breaks and every starts swinging, we'll swing at the targets they want us to hit? (I wouldn't want to bet on that: I suspect that if we all come out swinging, the government will itself be real high on the list of potential targets.)

(I just got the second appearance in two years of a hate-email against the Eid stamp. This is how it's being spread: underground.)

Very valid analysis Texas Dem, and the worst of it is both parties are cheating in the direction you sketched out. Superimpose Naomi Wolfe's 10 points which she first published in The Guardian and later in her newest book, and we seem entrenched in a grim landscape indeed with no viable way out. Naomi Wolfe has written some diverse books, evolving through feminism, and she is always worth listening to.

It is a fiat accompli that 1-9 were cemented by this administration and the Democrats who have functioned as a compliant appendage to it, and it's just a matter of time for #10. We are pouring enormous sums into Pakistan (that the media rarely mentions of course), and I am doubtful that martial law will there will have a scintilla of impact on terrorism.

Aid to Pakistan in Tribal Areas Raises Concerns

The leadership on both sides of the aisle has done a very effective job of keeping information from most of us, and during the last seven years that information has been more sequestered and firewalled from Americans than ever before, with the momentum for continuing this full speed ahead aided by the eggregious surveillance bill that the Democratic compliant appendage will grin and pass.

Russ Feingold is one person who tries to keep that from happening, but consistently he is roughly shouted down by his own party who lack the integrity to speak out in the way he always does.

Hey your leaders have spoken.
They know what they are doing.

Posted by: Shit stain jodi. | November 02, 2007 at 23:38

Like you, I think Bush is dead wrong about Iraq only I think he lied and you think he made a mistake. If it was a mistake, then why doesn't he bring them home? I don't agree he knows what he's doing shit stain.

Texas Dem, I would recast your take on American schools slightly, but significantly. Schools are there not so much to get students jobs, but to train obedient employees for employers and obedient citizens. I don't know that anyone has said it better or more succinctly than Jerry Farber did in the sixties, first in his essay, then book, Student as Nigger.

"Schools exploit you because they tap your power and use it to perpetuate society's trip, while they teach you not to respect your own. They turn you away from yourself and toward the institutions around you. Schools petrify society because their method, characterized by coercion from the top down, works against any substantial social change. Students are coerced by teachers, who take orders from administrators, who do the bidding of those stalwarts of the status quo on the board of education or the board of trustees. Schools petrify society because students, through them, learn how to adjust unquestioningly to institutions and how to exercise their critical thought only within narrow limits prescribed by the authorities. In fact, as long as a heavy preponderance of a nation's citizens are "good students" and are in some way rewarded for their performance, then dissenters and radical thinkers are no threat and can be permitted to express their opinions relatively unmolested. In the United States, free expression, to the extent that we have it, is a luxury commodity made available by the high standard of living and by the efficient functioning of such disguised forms of repression as schooling.

Schools preserve the status quo in two complementary ways: by molding the young and by screening them. Today almost all of the positions of relative power in the United States are reserved for those who have completed the full sixteen-year treatment, and perhaps a little more. Persons who are unwilling to have their minds and bodies pushed around incessantly are less likely to get through and therefore tend to be screened out of the power centers; the persons who do get through are more likely to accept things as they are and to make their own contributions in "safe" areas. Thus corporations and government agencies insist that executive trainees have a bachelor's degree, often without specifying any particular major. The degree, therefore, doesn't represent any particular body of knowledge. What does it represent? A certain mentality."

Schools basically train us to obey the rules. The only decisions students get are those like choosing a prom theme. Which they exercise when they decide which deodorant to buy.

The one era when schools actually taught student to think and question was roughly from 1958 to 1968. The authorities saw the results - a lot of us did - and went back to the old way of teaching students to obey without asking lots of embarrassing questions.

They didn't do anything about those who learned under that system, though.

If Leahy opposes the nomination, why can't he -- as Senate Judiciary chairman -- block the nomination from proceeding to the Senate?

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