August 25, 2008
The Orthodox Jew Who Is A Disgrace To Our Religion
-- Again Protects  Evil

Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

On December 14, 2007 I wrote a post that assailed Michael Mukasey for a statement -- that he doesn't know if waterboarding is torture -- which was a sheer disgrace for someone born into his religion, the same one I was born into, and whose parents were Russian Jewish immigrants who fled evil, as were mine.  A difference between us, of course, is that he went to an Orthodox Jewish prep school and his wife was the headmistress at an Orthodox Jewish school, while I went to public schools and for practical purposes have never practiced religion.  Another difference is that he seems to be the kind of guy who does what it takes to get ahead in the conventional world; he became, after all, a federal judge and then Attorney General for the Axe of Evil. 

Yesterday [July 30, 2008] I read a piece about Mukasey in the July 28-August 3 issue of The National Weekly Edition of the Washington Post.  Obviously speaking of Democrats' desires for an investigation of torture, the Post, immediately after saying that Mukasey had appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the destruction of CIA torture tapes, said this:  "He has resisted Democrats' other requests in part by arguing that their allegations are thin and that coercive questioning strategies were blessed by administration lawyers at the time."

Is the Post kidding?  Did he really say what the Post claims he said?  If he did, is Mukasey kidding?  The allegations supposedly are thin?  Has he read any of the numerous books and articles which now have detailed much of what occurred?  Gimme a break.  This jerk knows the allegations of torture are overwhelming, not thin.  If he said what the Post claims, he was deliberately lying.  Is that what they teach you to do in Orthodox Judaism?  It would be hard to believe. 

And how about the claim that he won't act because "coercive questioning strategies were blessed by administration lawyers at the time."  Those strategies were not blessed by all administration lawyers.  As books and articles make clear, some strongly opposed them.  The military JAGs, two of the civilian general counsels of the services (notably Alberto Mora), a State Department lawyer, an FBI man with a legal degree named Clemente, and others whose names and/or positions don't trip quickly off my tongue (for which I apologize). 

The truth is that not all Government lawyers favored torture.  But there was a small group who did favor it, and who hijacked the Government's decisionmaking process with the approval of such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith (himself a lawyer) and other high officials.  The hijacking lawyers included the likes of Yoo, Gonzalez, Addington, Chertoff, Bybee, Haynes, Bradford, apparently Rizzo and Philbin, Goldsmith (who is managing to get himself white-washed), and others, who of course were urged on by nonlawyers and acted in secrecy -- including secrecy that deliberately kept their conduct from the knowledge of other lawyers who would have been likely to oppose (or further oppose) what they were doing.  This all was put brilliantly by Andrew Bacevich in a recent review of Jane Mayer's new book, The Dark Side.  As Bacevich wrote: 

With the appearance of this very fine book, Hillary Clinton can claim a belated
vindication of sorts:  A right-wing conspiracy does indeed exist, although she
misapprehended its scope and nature.  The conspiracy is not vast and does not
consist of Clinton haters.  It is small, secretive and made up chiefly of lawyers
contemptuous of the Constitution and the rule of law.

* * * * * *

Recast as a series of indictments, the story Mayer tells goes like this:  Since
embarking upon its global war on terror, the United States has blatantly
disregarded the Geneva Conventions.  It has imprisoned suspects, including
U.S. citizens, without charge, holding them indefinitely and denying them due
process.  It has created an American gulag in which thousands of detainees,
including many innocent of any wrongdoing, have been subjected to ritual
abuse and humiliation.  It has delivered suspected terrorists into the hands of
foreign torturers.

Under the guise of "enhanced interrogation techniques," it has succeeded, in
Mayer's words, in "making torture the official law of the land in all but name."
Further, it has done all these things as a direct result of policy decisions made
at the highest levels of government.

In refusing to act on the ground that administration lawyers blessed torture, Mukasey chooses to ignore all the dissenting administration lawyers whom history will laud while it reviles the Yoo crowd, and he chooses to side instead with the Addington, Yoo, Haynes crowd who have committed evil and greatly injured this country.  Nice work for a guy who attended an Orthodox Jewish School, whose wife was headmistress of an Orthodox Jewish school and whose parents fled the style of conduct which he allows Bush, Yoo and company to get away with.

One further point.  It is often said that Jewish neocons -- guys like Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Kristol, Abrams, Lieberman, in my judgment Mukasey, and others -- take the positions they do (on Al Qaeda, Iran, etc.) because of their concern for Israel.  It is also said that they have had outsized influence during the last eight years.  I cannot say these accusations are wrong.  Truth be told, I think they are right.  But my deep concern for Israel and for Jews as a people lead me to revile those bastards because not only have they been a disaster for the United States itself, but they also seem to have gone far toward achieving the very opposite of what they wanted to achieve in behalf of Israel.  By leading the U.S. down a terribly wrong path, they have caused many Americans -- with whom I agree about most other things -- to revile Israel, they have caused Arabs to hate Israel even more, and they have lessened, not increased, Israel's security.  Nice work, guys. 

A while ago, on July 31, 2006, when discussing America's horrible misconduct towards Iran in the early 1950s, misconduct which turned Iranians from a people friendly to America into a nation that has now hated us for over 50 years, I described  actions that -- however unrealistic opponents will proclaim them -- would create a permanent peace between Israel and its neighbors.  Naturally, none of the big shots ever considered such actions -- to be ignored is the fate of non bigshots.  But I still think what I said is right, and have appended pertinent parts of the previous post because the actions listed there would be a way of undoing the harm and evil done by the neocon group, a group to which Mukasey so obviously appears to belong.  Truth to tell, of course, the chances that the appended ideas will be considered now by the big shots is about the same as it was then.  To wit, zero.

Excerpt from Posting

Of course, it is obviously desirable at this point -- maybe even essential at this point -- that there be some kind of overall Middle East settlement, or as close to one as we can get, regardless of the fact that we largely caused the Iranian part of the problem.  With this in mind, my off-the-top-of-the-head recommendation, which should be attempted via a general conference of all the parties (including Hezbollah and Hamas -- let's have none of the shape of the table bullshit of Viet Nam days) would be this:

  • Pace George/DICK, but the United States would apologize to Iran for what America did to Mossadegh.

  • Syria, Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah would agree no longer to ever attack Israel in any way, whether directly, by guerrillas or by terrorists.

  • The area of Lebanon south of the Litany River will forever be a demilitarized zone:  no rockets, no tanks, no artillery, no mortars, no heavy weapons of any type.  This will be monitored and enforced by either a United Nations or a NATO force.

  • Hezbollah will disarm completely.

  • Israel will pledge not to bomb or invade southern Lebanon or any part of Lebanon.

  • There will be a Palestinian state in Gaza and wherever else it has already been decided that there should be such a state.  That state will be a demilitarized one:  no rockets, no tanks, no fighter planes or bombers, no artillery, etc.  This will be monitored and enforced by either a United Nations or a NATO force. 

  • Hamas will be totally disarmed.

  • Israel will agree never to militarily attack the Palestinian state (which will in turn agree never to attack Israel (and will be demilitarized anyhow). 

  • Iran (and Syria too) will forsake nuclear weapons.

  • Iran and Syria will agree not to sponsor, assist, or finance terrorism anywhere in the world.

  • The United States will agree not to invade or take military action against Iran or Syria. 

  • A group of the world's more powerful nations, together perhaps with some Muslim countries, will be the guarantors of the entire arrangement, with the obligation to act militarily against a violator if necessary to prevent or stop the violation.  The guarantors will include the United States, even though it will also be an obligated party under the agreement and could in theory be the target of military action by other guarantors if it were to violate the agreement. 

It is always possible for, and often occurs that, international agreements are broken or prove unenforceable.  Nonetheless, an agreement along the foregoing lines would, one think, mean peace.  Is such an agreement achievable?  Is it not achievable because it asks too much, is too idealistic as to what can be accomplished?  Quite possibly, especially because all parties would have to be reasonable for it to be achieved.  Unhappily, history shows that a need for reasonableness is the biggest argument against it.  But it may nonetheless be worth a try.  For it is transparent that a failure of settlement -- of overall settlement -- could be truly fraught.

This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.  If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu.  Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.


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