Turley: Attorney General Mukasey acting 'without principle'
The announcement by Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Tuesday that he regards illegal hiring practices in the Department of Justice only as violations of civil service laws and not as crimes came under withering criticism from legal expert Jonathan Turley on MSNBC's Countdown.
"The attorney general would have had a lot more credibility if he actually prosecuted government officials on occasion," Turley told Keith Olbermann. "He said he would not prosecute what is defined as a war crime in the case of torture. He would not prosecute on the electronic surveillance crimes. ... He has been standing in the way of investigations. And now ... he's just saying, 'You know, they got away and what can I do about that?'"
"He is not prosecuting government officials," Turley summed up, "and I'm afraid he's doing it without principle."
Turley also noted that, while he agreed with Mukasey that "it would be unfair" to dismiss all the Justice Department personnel who were hired as the result of partisan decision-making, he has a particular concern with the immigration judges.
"It's clear that the standards used to select those judges were not based on the merits and were based on their political alliances and associations," Turley stated. "Those are people rendering decisions over the lives of others."
In response to a question from Olbermann about whether Mukasey is "just another Bush hack," Turley replied, "It's not fair to call him a sycophant like Alberto Gonzales, but he is a remarkable cynic."
"He seems to believe that he has the discretion not just to prosecute but to define what crimes are," Turley explained. "He is treating himself as the sole decision-maker. ... In so doing, he's making a wonderful argument for re-instating the independent counsel act."
Turley added that although the recent rejection by an appeals court of Valerie Plame's civil suit against government officials responsible for her outing may have been legally correct, it provides another argument for restoring the independent counsel act. "It shows that there is no independent basis to protect people like Plame," Turley emphasized. "She was done wrong."
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast August 12, 2008.