This is not my usual beat nor my usual way of operating, but: on this visit to the U.S. I feel obliged to note, in solidarity with Andrew Sullivan and Matthew Yglesias of the Atlantic (among others), that I hope senators will vote No on the nomination of Michael Mukasey as attorney general.
Here's the reason: The Administration has proven that it cannot be given the benefit of the doubt on questions of civil liberties, expansion of executive powers, or the conversion of its open-ended, ill-defined, decades-long state of "war" into an excuse for permanent, abusive, often secret changes in the balance of rights and powers that is America's greatest constitutional achievement.
On crucial points, Mukasey's second-day testimony amounted to a request that he and the Administration be trusted to do the right thing. Nothing against him personally, but the time for trust has passed. Unless Mukasey explicitly repudiates the most abusive parts of his predecessor's (and his President's) record, the Senate would be negligent and reckless to approve him.
A specific point: the "waterboarding" outrage. As is now becoming famous, Mukasey said this, when asked by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse whether waterboarding was constitutional:
“I don’t know what is involved in the technique,” Mr. Mukasey replied. “If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.”
Either way you slice it, this answer alone is grounds for rejecting Mukasey. If he really doesn't "know what is involved" in the technique, he is unacceptably lazy or ill-informed. Any citizen can learn about this technique with a few minutes on the computer.* Any nominee for Attorney General in 2007 who has not taken the time to inform himself fits the pattern of ignorant incuriosity we can no longer afford at the highest levels.