While Mukasey argues today that Abdulmutallab has no constitutional rights because he is an "enemy combatant," in 2002 he wrote such a strongly-worded opinion in the case against the enemy combatant designation of Jose Padilla, the so-called Dirty Bomber. Greenwald even acknowledges that the Padilla opinion was one of the reasons Mukasey was "one of the better choices" for A.G.
But today Mukasey now argues the same points for denying Abdulmutallab counsel that the Bush administration did in arguing against Padilla's right to an attorney.
So, I know what you're going to say: Padilla is a US citizen, the other guy isn't. True, and that's exactly what Mukasey wrote in the op-ed. He goes further by saying he rejected the Bush administration's argument "as a convenience to the court and not for any constitutionally based reason." Oh, really? Well why does it say in Mukasey's opinion that Padilla did have a constitutional right to an attorney?
Greenwald ends his piece on a most cheerful note:
The Associated Press is reporting today that the Obama administration (and Eric Holder specifically) are now signaling that it might reverse itself and put the 9/11 defendants before a military commission rather than a civilian trial. Others are reporting that Robert Gibbs suggested the same thing today. I have no idea how much faith to put in those reports, but what I do know is that once you embrace the core Bush/Cheney detention policies by continuing military commissions and indefinite detentions, then you have no principled way to fend off attacks like those from Mukasey. How could the President or his defenders possibly stand up and claim with a straight face that "the rule of law" or whatever lofty standards they want to cite compel civilian trials when they themselves are denying civilian trials to scores of detainees?