FedSoc LiveBlog: Address by Hon. Michael B. Mukasey, Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton and Former U.S. Attorney General

November 14th, 2009

Address by the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey

2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Tells how Mukasey, before being confirmed as Attorney General, said that if President did anything against Constitution he would tell him to change course or he would quit.  So when Congress tried to stop wiretapping, he refused to seek confirmation votes, stating that the statute cannot change the Constitution, which allowed President to defend the nation.

General Mukasey stands to a standing ovation

Commends introducer for fighting against injustice rather than suffering, at considerable expense to himself.

Jokes that he will pick up where he left off last year.  (audience laughter)

References the news this morning that principle operative and mastermind of 9/11 will be brought to U.S. to stand trial.  He considers the decision to be unwise and shows a refusal to accept that we are at war with a religiously idealistic people determined to kill us.

But first some good news on intelligence gathering:

Amendments passed in 2008 have been beaten back, and intelligence gathering authorities have stayed in place. Foreign security specialists were used to devise plans for tracing international money transfers.  DHS said they had used the same type of technique under Bush, what an official called continuity we can believe in. (audience laughter)

More after the jump.

Crime-solving procedures put into effect in 2008, and despite pressures to roll them back, DOJ intends to allow them to work for a reasonable time. Detaining those who are not chargeable, gaining intelligence from those in the field and prosecuting those who can be are all priorities.

But the plan is to abandon the view that we are at war and abandon procedures for such a war.  Obama admin has reverted to a Sept. 10, 2001 mentality.   Cites terrorist attacks around the world against US interests.

Obama Admin said previous admin had unlawfully interrogated and detained terror suspect.  Policy is being fashioned to fit rhetoric, rather than being thought out in advance.

DOJ issued memorandum for how agents can gather intelligence, and allowed our enemies to know the legal and factual limits of our intelligence gathering, which allows them to prepare.

Cites cases and investigations that are being reviewed again even though facts-specific determinations were already made.

Recalls that Bush, by exec order, created military commission, which Congress affirmed, but recent events will “long-circuit” the process by using civilian courts. Cases will have to start from scratch. KSM will again be given the chance to plead guilty for things he has publicly admitted.  He will be able to avail himself of all the steps of the legal process, including evidence, which will provide a cornucopia of helpful information for his allies.  Tribunals and Guantanamo were both created to handle these problems under controlled circumstances.

Apparently, the idea that a military tribunal at Guantanamo would be seen as fair and successful to the public and the world has eluded members of the Obama Admin and Congress. This latest step seems to have resulted from the promise to close Guantanamo.

The General says that if he thought that we all had 3 lives to live, we could live one as a social experiment to see if this result is one we want to live with, but we don’t, so it would require a great deal more optimism than he has to support this “latest experiment.”

The problem is not whether the prisoners will escape, but the odds increase that that city will become a place of murder surrounding the situation

I don’t see anything good coming out of this and I think it would have been better to try these prisoners in the venue that Congress established

It would take a lot more incredulousness than that which I have to be optimistic about this decision.

(Standing ovation)

Read the detainee story at: