senator tom harkin lambasts administration for middle ages mentality

Democrat says ‘king’ Bush no longer honors right that dates to Middle Ages

Mike Aivaz and Nick Juliano
Published: Friday November 9, 2007
Newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey will not rein in President Bush, who views himself as having the nearly unchecked executive power of a monarch, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) says.

“Are we just going to have another attorney general that’s just going to kowtow to the king — the president. I’m sorry I get those terms kinda confused here when I’m talking about Bush; I don’t know if he’s king or president,” Harkin told his colleagues from the Senate floor Thursday.

“According to the last attorney general (Bush) was king, and maybe this one believes the same thing, he can do whatever he wants to,” Harkin continued. “But even in 1215, the King of England was held to the standard of habeas corpus. I guess we want to turn the clock back to before the Magna Carta.”

Harkin spoke shortly before the Senate voted to confirm Mukasey as attorney general, after the nominee weathered criticism of his refusal to declare waterboarding illegal torture. The Iowa Democrat criticized that position and the nominees refusal to commit to the notion that detainees in the war on terror — including American citizens — deserve habeas corpus guarantees, which require that anyone in captivity be charged with a crime or released.

“We need an attorney general to tell this king that he’s wrong, and that the rule of law will apply and the rule of law says we will not torture,” Harkin said. “We will not be like our enemies. That will send a stronger signal to the world than anything else we can do.”

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