Today dubya nominated retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey as Gonzo's successor at the top of the Department of Justice. Most of the articles I have read paint him as a "compromise" choice and a concession to Democrats and all those critical of the Britney Spear's VMA performance that this administration has become (analogy shamelessly stolen from Jezebel).
While I agree that he seems to be less bat shit crazy, I'm not totally sold. As a federal judge, he did seem to adhere to the constitution. He is also the judge that signed the material witness warrant of Joseph Padilla and was involved with his case while it was in New York. At one point during that case, he siding with Padilla over the government.
Since he has retired, however, he has not hesitated to wax poetic (see op ed piece here) about how the war on terror merits different standards for criminal convictions and how our system is not prepared for this on-going struggle. For example, at one point in his op ed, he said:
On one end of the spectrum, the rules that apply to routine criminals who pursue finite goals are skewed, and properly so, to assure that only the highest level of proof will result in a conviction. But those rules do not protect a society that must gather information about, and at least incapacitate, people who have cosmic goals that they are intent on achieving by cataclysmic means.So it seems that when he did adhere to constitutional standards in his courtroom he did it somewhat begrudgingly. Which, to be sure, is an improvement. But now that he is a position of a policy maker, I don't think he will exhibit the same impartiality he once had as a trial judge. While he seems competent (again, an improvment), I do not believe that he really is a concession to democrats or will significantly change the administration's stance on the war on terror.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is said to have told his American captors that he wanted a lawyer and would see them in court. If the Supreme Court rules--in a case it has agreed to hear relating to Guantanamo detainees--that foreigners in U.S. custody enjoy the protection of our Constitution regardless of the place or circumstances of their apprehension, this bold joke could become a reality.