[Mb-civic] Worse Than Ashcroft
michael at michaelbutler.com
Thu Dec 2 17:39:55 PST 2004
Go to Original
Worse Than Ashcroft
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice
Monday 29 November 2004
Bush's new attorney general helped write the Patriot Act and supported
His sharp intellect and sound judgment have helped shape our policies on the
war on terror, policies designed to protect the security of all Americans
while protecting the rights of all Americans.
- George W. Bush, announcing the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as
attorney general, The New York Times, November 11
The American people expect and deserve a Department of Justice guided by the
rule of law.
- Alberto Gonzales, accepting the nomination, The New York Sun, November
When you encounter a person who is willing to twist the law...even though
for perhaps good reasons, you have to say you're really undermining the law
- Jim Cullen, retired chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal
Appeals, referring to Alberto Gonzales, National Public Radio, November 11
I do not approve of filibustering presidential nominees, no matter who is
president, because the Constitution, along with the Federalist Papers, makes
clear that the whole Senate is to give advice and consent to these
presidential nominees. But if I were a senator, I would be sorely tempted to
filibuster Alberto Gonzales. The Democrats, still shell-shocked by their
second loss to Bush, and by the size of the Hispanic vote for the president,
are not likely to filibuster Gonzales. But since Gonzales will be more
dangerous to our liberties than Ashcroft, I will begin here to show how low
the standards have become for the chief law enforcement officer of the
nation. Maybe at least the American Bar Association and the Association of
the Bar of the City of New York will stand up against Gonzales.
I must credit National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg, an experienced
analyst of constitutional law and a reporter who never stops digging to get
to the core of Gonzales's ominous record as White House counsel. On November
11, she pointed out: "Gonzales was responsible for developing the
administration's policies on the treatment of prisoners; for developing a
new definition of torture to allow more aggressive questioning of prisoners.
He developed the policy that allowed the indefinite detention of American
citizens deemed to be enemy combatants without [being charged] or [having]
access to counsel. . . . The Supreme Court, though, rejected that [Gonzales]
theory . . .
"Top legal brass in the army, air force, and navy say that Gonzales
deliberately left them out of developing policy on the treatment of
prisoners because he knew they would oppose."
On November 10, Totenberg quoted retired general Jim Cullen of the U.S.
Army Court of Criminal Appeals, who says Gonzales directly contradicted
established military and international law. He added that Gonzales realized
that "the Judge Advocate Generals Corps would never sanction departures from
the Geneva Conventions or engaging in practices that the common man would
regard as torture." (Emphasis added.)
Says the Senate Judiciary Committee's clueless attack dog in these
matters, Charles Schumer, about Gonzales: "I can tell you already he's a
better candidate than John Ashcroft."
There's a lot more about Alberto Gonzales that will prepare you for what
to expect for the next four years from the Justice Department. In a January
2002 memorandum to George W. Bush, he emphasized that this new war on terror
"renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy
prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions." (Emphasis added.)
Gonzales also told George W. Bush that in denying these "detainees"-many
of them now held at Guantánamo for nearly three years without
charges-prisoner of war status under the Geneva Conventions, the president
didn't have to worry about being held accountable by the courts. As
commander in chief, his actions were unreviewable.
Said the Supreme Court, in June, concerning the accuracy of the advice
from the next attorney general of the United States about deep-sixing U.S.
citizens, "We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank
check for the president when it comes to the rights of [American] citizens."
And the Court also ruled he was wrong about the noncitizen prisoners at
Alberto Gonzales, moreover, will not in the least disturb John Aschroft's
beloved USA Patriot Act, because Gonzales helped write it, and he wholly
agrees with his patron, the president, that nothing in it should be changed
despite the act's "sunset clause" that allows Congress to review sections of
the act by December 2005.
As the February 11 Financial Times reports, Gonzales, as counsel to the
president, worked "to bar top White House officials from testifying before
the commission that investigated the September 11 attacks." Nor has Gonzales
shown any interest in an investigation of the accountability of leading
administration officials, including their compliant lawyers, for the
egregious abuses of the Abu Ghraib prisoners, to which Gonzales contributed.
Bluntly, an editorial in Financial Times (not a notably radical newspaper)
says of Gonzales: "As well as being a longtime personal friend of the
president, he is publicly associated with discussion within the
administration of how to sidestep national as well as international
constraints on the use of torture in interrogation in the prison camp at
If there ever is an honest investigation of who is ultimately responsible
for what happened there and at Abu Ghraib, Mr. Gonzales might well be in the
dock, along with Donald Rumsfeld and a number of the defense secretary's
Next week: Alberto Gonzales's role, and record, as legal counsel to the
then chief executioner of the United States, Texas Governor W. Bush, in
deciding on the petitions for clemency from 57 of the 150 men and two women
executed during Bush's six years as governor. Gonzales was central to
amassing that record-unrivaled by any other governor.
Those who know Gonzales, however, keep saying he's a nice guy.
Jump to TO Features for Thursday December 2, 2004
© Copyright 2004 by TruthOut.org
More information about the Mb-civic