Steven Bradbury is the reason Senate Democrats held pro forma sessions throughout the holiday breaks. They felt so strongly that Bradbury should not receive a recess appointment to the post of assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel, that throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, the Senate was gaveled to order and then immediately out of session, every couple of days. This prevented President Bush from bypassing the Senate confirmation process and unilaterally appointing Bradbury during a Senate recess.
But despite the fierce opposition to Bradbury from Democrats, Bush can't resist poking them in the eye by continuing to renominate him. Bush did it again last month after Bradbury's nomination had expired.
Senate Democrats have good reason for trying to prevent Bradbury from winning the permanent job as head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department - a post he has filled in an acting capacity for more than two years. Bradbury signed a series of legal memorandums in 2005 that authorized the CIA's use of harsh interrogation techniques. He traded his conscience for a bid at a big job.
Bradbury replaced Daniel Levin, who as acting head of the office decided to undergo waterboarding. Levin then issued a strongly worded antitorture memorandum. "Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms," it declared.
Not surprisingly, Bush decided not to nominate Levin. The nomination went to Bradbury, who reportedly proceeded to issue classified legal opinions on detention and interrogation that justified waterboarding and were more in keeping with the administration's longstanding position on the CIA's use of brutality and inhuman interrogation tactics.
Before the Christmas recess, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he offered to confirm 60 stalled Republican nominees in exchange for Bradbury's nomination, but the White House refused to give up the nomination or promise not to appoint Bradbury during the recess. So the Democrats didn't technically recess the Senate.
Bradbury is obviously one of the Bush loyalists. But by justifying harsh interrogation techniques, Bradbury has diminished this country's moral standing and endangered American forces around the world. The Democrats are right. He shouldn't be allowed a permanent posting anywhere near a department named Justice.