Behind Closed Doors

The hearings over whether Michael Mukasey ought to be confirmed as United States Attorney General were a bit contentious in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but he did pass. However, as heated as they were in public, the private grilling was even worse. I can’t divulge my sources, but I happen to have obtained the secret transcripts of the behind-door sessions. Here are a few excerpts:

* * * * *

Senator SCHUMER: “Moving on to other matters, Mr. Mukasey, I would like to discuss your opinions on certain racial matters. Would you say that you find the use of the n-word abhorrent?”

Mr. MUKASEY: “Yes, Senator, I do find that word abhorrent. It is a sad legacy of a terrible portion of our history, and I not only eschew its use, but I have contempt for those who use it today.”

Senator SCHUMER: “And would you say that anyone who would use it is a racist?”

Mr. MUKASEY: “As a general principle, I believe that to be a fairly reliable indicator, but is not in and of itself a clear indication of racism, Senator.”

Senator SCHUMER: “So, you do NOT think that the use of the n-word is racist, then?”

Mr. MUKASEY: “I did not say that, Senator. I said that it might be true in most cases, it is not an absolute fact.”

Senator SCHUMER: “So, you have no problems with the use of the n-word?” Am I understanding you correctly?”

Mr. MUKASEY: “No, sir. Merely that there are circumstances when its use is not prima facie evidence of racism. For example, it is often used in modern rap lyrics, by blacks referring to themselves and other blacks.”

Senator SCHUMER: “Mr. Mukasey, I am deeply troubled that someone the president considers worthy of the position of the nation’s highest law-enforcement official would be so openly racist.”

Mr. MUKASEY: “Senator, I did not say that. I merely pointed out that simply using that word is not a guarantee that the speaker is a racist. Black comics have also used that word, with great effect — Eddie Murphy used it extensively in his stand-up acts, and Richard Pryor even put out an album entitled ‘Bicentennial N-word.'”

Senator SCHUMER: “Mr. Mukasey, this is just too much of an affront to the American people, to have as Attorney General of the United States a man who exhibits such flagrant racism.”

Mr. MUKASEY: “Senator, simply using the word is not sufficient to prove racist intent. Mark Twain, in ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ named a character ‘Nigger Jim,’ yet showed the cruelty and inhumanity and evil of racism and slavery. But I would hardly call Mark Twain a racist, simply because he used the word.”

Senator SCHUMER: “Let the record show that the witness did, indeed, use the word “nigger.”

* * * * *

Senator KENNEDY: “Er… ah… Mr. Mucousy, I would like to bring up the details of the torture technique more commonly referred to as ‘waterboarding.’ And could someone freshen my ‘water?'”

Mr. MUKASEY: “Senator, please, my name is Mukasey, not ‘Mucousy.’ And while I am familiar with the general principles behind that interrogation technique, I have not been briefed on the particulars as it may or may not be practiced by agents of the United States government, and therefore cannot render an informed opinion on whether or not it truly constitutes torture under the letter of the law.”

Senator KENNEDY: “So, Mr. Muskie, this torture method called ‘waterboarding.’ As I understand it, the victim is strapped to a 1967 Oldsmobile and… (AIDE interrupts Senator KENNEDY and whispers in his ear)… er… ah… strapped to a wooden board and immersed in water to partially drown the victim?”

Mr. MUKASEY: “Senator, it’s Mukasey. And that is one variant, as I understand it. But there are other variants that actually do not involve drowning, but merely the sensation of drowning without actually endangering the victim or introducing water into the lungs. As these interrogations are highly classified, I have not been briefed on the particulars and therefore cannot make any sort of informed judgment on the matter.”

Senator KENNEDY: “Mr. Musicky, there can be nothing more terrifying than drowning. The sensation of water filling up your lungs as you press your face into the upholstery… er, mask… to try to escape a horrifying death… (AIDE provides Senator KENNEDY with fresh cup of amber-tinted water)… sir, anyone who could allow that to happen to another human being has no business holding office in the government of these United States.Mr. Chappaqid… er, ah, Mr. Chairman, I have no further questions for this disgrace of a human being.”

* * * * *

Again, these were from the closed-door portion of the hearings. I can not and will not divulge my sources who leaked me these details.

Update: Yes, as “Y. Goober” points out, Senator Schumer is indeed backing Mr. Mukasey’s nomination. Either my transciptionist made an error, or Senator Schumer switched his position at some point after these closed hearings. My apologies for any confusion.

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