President Bush lashed out at Congress Thursday for holding up the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey for attorney general and attempting to block necessary intelligence measures in the War on Terror.
Addressing a packed room at the Heritage Foundation, Bush reminded the audience of the threat of radical Islam and that the terrorists “intend to build a totalitarian Islamic empire.” He spoke of retired federal Judge Michael Mukasey’s qualifications for attorney general and urged lawmakers to seal his nomination.
Bush said national sercurity requires a full cabinet team, which the holdup of Mukasey’s nomination is preventing in time of war. The Senate Judiciary Committee has stalled the confirmation due to Mukasey’s refusal to take a legal position on interrogation techniques — specifically waterboarding — for prisoners. Because the CIA interrogation program is classified, Mukasey has not been fully briefed. Bush said if the Committee blocks Mukasey on these grounds, “they would set a new standard for confirmation that could not be met by any responsible nominee for attorney general.”
If Mukasey did make a statement on the matter, Bush said, it could give terrorists a “window” into American actions, guiding them to train soldiers for techniques to resist questioning. A Senate Judiciary Committee vote is schedule for next Tuesday. Mukasey has received bi-partisan support but some Democrats – such as Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy – are now saying they will oppose Mukasey.
Senate sources told Human Events Thursday that Mukasey’s confirmation is not in real danger. The problem is that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is now feeling a bit lonely as the only Democrat certain to vote in favor of Mukasey in committee. Senate Democrat leaders are apparently searching for another Democrat on the committee who will vote for Mukasey and give Schumer cover.
Leaving the subject of Mukasey, the President went on to the Protect America Act, which is scheduled to expire in February. (That act was a six-month temporary extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) enacted in a rush as Congress left for the August recess.
Some lawmakers now oppose the Protect America Act due to what they say is an infringement on civil liberties. However, Bush said it is vital to national intelligence and would provide the US the ability to intercept plans of attack.
If the Act expires, Bush said it will result in a major intelligence gap that America cannot afford.
“The terrorists are communicating with each other and are plotting new attacks…we need to know what they are planning,” said Bush.
In addition to these cases of inaction, Congress has not yet proposed an acceptable war supplemental funding bill. Bush said nearly 75% of funding requests were submitted in February, allowing plenty of time for Congress to review them and make a decision. In their attempt to manipulate funding bills to keep promises made earlier this year, Congress has stalled necessary finances and security for the country and the US military during wartime.
The President condemned congressional leaders for attempting to combine military and veteran funding with a labor, health and education bill that would provide millions of dollars in extra spending.
“It’s hard to imagine a more cynical ploy than holding funding for our troops and our wounded warriors hostage in order to extract $11 billion in wasteful Washington spending,” said Bush.
He requested a clean veterans funding bill by Veterans Day and said some in Washington should “spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists…and the requests of our commanders on the ground and less time responding to the demands of MoveOn.org and Code Pink protestors.”
Code Pinkos lined the sidewalk of the Heritage Foundation’s entrance prior to the day’s event.
This is the second time in a week that Bush publicly condemned the 11% approval rated Congress for their lack of action on important national matters. He ended yesterday’s brief session by saying he believes in 50 years an American president will speak at Heritage and say, “Thank God that generation that wrote the first chapter in the 21st century understood the power of freedom to bring the peace we want.”
President Bush wasn’t the only one to bash Congress yesterday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “I don’t approve of Congress, because we haven’t done anything that — we haven’t been effective in ending the war in Iraq. And if you asked me in a phone call, as ardent a Democrat as I am, I would disapprove of Congress as well." Well, that makes it unanimous.